Purdue University Department of Public Health: A Brief History

Written By: Rebecca Hoffa, rhoffa@purdue.edu

Although Public Health is the newest department in the College of Health and Human Sciences, its history goes back to its original home in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, where the program offered a bachelor’s degree option as well as a master’s degree option, beginning in 2006.

However, the start of the College of Health and Human Sciences in 2010 led to discussions of the need for a world-class university to address the critical needs of public health. In doing so, the college developed the Public Health Graduate Program in 2014, which aimed to provide likeminded students with academic options and career paths for improving all aspects of the healthcare system. Richard Mattes, distinguished professor of nutrition science, directed the program, which offered three tracks, one of which was a combined degree that allowed undergraduate students to obtain both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at an accelerated pace.

In 2019, the Purdue University Board of Trustees approved the establishment of a new Department of Public Health with Mattes as the head. The new department became home to the undergraduate public health program, which was moved to the College of Health and Human Sciences from the Department of Health and Kinesiology, as well as the college’s Public Health Graduate Program. Read more about the realignment.

Since its establishment, the Department of Public Health has continued to grow, offering new degree options and research opportunities to promote the health of populations both national and internationally.