Six golden shovels wielded by University officials, students and
the state surgeon general broke ground yesterday for a
125,000-square foot addition to the School of Public Health.

The addition will replace the east-west wing of the Henry F.
Vaughan Building, also known as SPH 1, and will house modern
laboratories, classrooms, conference rooms and community-focused
research space.

Renovations will also be conducted on SPH 1.

“This is one of the strongest schools of public health in the
nation,” said Glenn Fosdick, University alum and member of the
School of Public Health Board of Governors.

“They desperately need not only the additional space but also
the renovation,” Fosdick added.

The School of Public Health was recently ranked 5th in the U.S.
News and World Report yearly ranking.

University President Mary Sue Coleman spoke at the event,
emphasizing examples of innovative research at the School of Public
Health since its inception in 1943.

Director of the Poliomyelitis Vaccine Evaluation Center Thomas
Francis, for instance, developed the first influenza vaccine and
oversaw the U.S. Army’s flu vaccine program in the 1940s.

Later, in field trials involving almost 10 million children, he
proved the effectiveness of his former student Jonas Salk’s polio

This year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the nasal
spray flu vaccine FluMist, based on technology developed by
epidemiology Prof. Emiritus Hunein “John” Maassab, another former
student of Francis.

“This is such a wonderful group of faculty with … a history of
discovery and public work,” Coleman said.

“I’m really glad we can provide them with the facilities to do

Coleman and other attendees at the groundbreaking said that the
renovations are long overdue.

“Jonas Salk visited us just before his death,” said Public
Health Dean Noreen Clark.

“He looked at me and said, ‘It looks exactly the same.’

“I said, ‘Do you think if we opened the refrigerator, we’d find
your lunch?’ “

The addition will include a five-story connector that will form
a bridge across Washington Heights Street from SPH 1 to the SPH 2

Construction is expected to be completed in 2006.

The project is designed to maximize interdisciplinary
collaboration, foster communication between researchers and
students and promote connections with local and regional groups,
Clark said.

The addition will feature shared laboratory space, an
information technology hub and state-of-the-art conference rooms,
she said.

State Surgeon General Kimberlydawn Wisdom -who is also a School
of Public Health graduate – helped break ground.

“The investment in this new public health building represents an
important step in the right direction,” she said.

Epidemiology students Rebecca Danhof and Chasity Wellnitz,
co-chairs of the Public Health Students Association, also took part
in the event.

“I think it will be good to integrate the departments together,”
Danhof said.

Both said students have had little input regarding the
renovation design.

“I did sit in on a couple committee meetings last year,
discussing the plans,” Wellnitz said.

But Environmental Health Prof. Martin Philbert said the planning
committee and architects got input from all the faculty, unlike
planning processes outside the University in which he has been

“For the first time we’ll have a building that reflects the
interactive and interdisciplinary nature of public health – it
won’t just permit them, but promote them,” he said.








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