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California is blessed to have more schools and programs of public health than most states in the nation (and more than most countries), providing a vast array of undergraduate and graduate degrees of public health, scholarly research and community service activities. Yet currently no formal mechanism exists to allow for collaboration among the 31 SPPH, information sharing on research, curriculum and practice-based internships, nor to provide a “bully-pulpit” platform for advocating for population-level health, particularly for the state’s structurally vulnerable populations.

At the request of Dr. Bob Ross, President of The California Endowment, in 2016 Berkeley Public Health (BPH) began engaging over 30 of its academic colleagues across the state along with leading foundations working in the public health space in an important conversation about how we work together as a network of research, education and philanthropic institutions to reduce health disparities for low-income people and communities of color.

Through a series of in-depth key stakeholder interviews conducted in 2018, we asked, “How could SPPH be a greater force for accelerating progress on health equity in California if they were able to develop a common vision, leverage the strengths and assets of individual schools for a common set of goals and actions, and increase coordination?”

BPH dean Michael Lu, MD, MPH, has convened his fellow SPPH deans, directors and chairs in California to discuss topics of common interest and concern.  In light of the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable populations in California, the effects of the pandemic on public health training and education, and the Black Lives Matter movement calls for racial justice, in 2020 Dean Lu began organizing monthly SPPH meetings to share best practices, problem-solve together, and take collective action. This learning and action network has been co-hosted by Dean Lu’s CSU counterpart, with robust attendance from all three systems – UCs, CSUs and private universities (see below for list of 31 public health deans, directors, and chairs who have participated in the meetings).

Agenda topics have included:

  • Best practices in remote instruction—quality online teaching in the time of COVID
  • Developing anti-racism action-plans — How can we become anti-racist institutions and systems in our pedagogy and practices?
  • Health Policy Advocacy – Elevating our Collective Voice to Influence Policy in Sacramento
  • Taking collective action for public health — What can we do together that we can’t do as individual faculty members or schools/programs?
  • Formalizing our work — How would a CA-SPPH association be governed, managed, funded and sustained over time?  


The deans and directors of the 31 SPPH have planned and taken a number of specific actions in early 2021 that are winnable and demonstrate collective impact, including:

  • Encouraging vaccine acceptance within our own university systems, our local communities, and throughout the state of California (see shared statement here);

Participant List

  • Michael Lu, Dean, School of Public Health
    University of California, Berkeley
  • Cheryl Anderson, Dean
    University of California, San Diego School of Public Health
  • Hala Madanat, Director, School of Public Health
    San Diego State University
  • Eyal Oren, Interim Director, School of Public Health
    San Diego State University
  • Walter Zelman, Chair and Professor, Department of Public Health
    California State University, Los Angeles
  • Kirsten  Bibbins-Domingo, Vice Dean for Population Health and Health Equity
    University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
  • Arnab Mukherjea, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Public Health
    California State University, East Bay
  • Yoshitaka Iwasaki, Professor and Chair, Department of Public Health and Recreation, College of Health and Human Sciences
    San Jose State University
  • Jesus Ramirez-Valles, Director, Health Equity Institute (HEI)
    San Francisco State University
  • Marty Martinson, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Public Health
    San Francisco State University
  • Lal Mian, Interim Department Chair, Health Science and Human Ecology
    California State University, San Bernardino
  • Irene Yen, Professor of Public Health, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
    University of California, Merced
  • Nancy Burke, Professor of Public Health, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
    University of California, Merced
  • Pamela Krochalk, Health Science Program Chair
    California State University, Dominguez Hills
  • Ron Brookmeyer, Dean, Fielding School of Public Health
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Bernadette  Boden-Albala, Director and Dean, School of Population Health
    University of California, Irvine
  • Kamiar Alaei, Department Chair, Health Science
    California State University, Long Beach
  • Helen Hopp Marshak, Dean, School of Public Health
    Loma Linda University
  • Sonsoles De Lacalle, Chair of Health Science
    California State University Channel Islands
  • Daramola Cabral, Professor of Public Health and Population Health Sciences
    California State University, Monterey Bay
  • Nicole Henley, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Science and Human Ecology
    California State University, San Bernardino
  • Oladele “Dele” Ogunseitan, Professor of Environmental Health, Science, and Policy
    University of California, Irvine
  • Christina Holub, Interim Program Director, Assistant Professor
    California State University San Marcos
  • Bethany Rainisch, Associate Professor
    California State University, Northridge
  • Salvador “Sal” Esparza, Professor
    California State University, Northridge
  • Kaitlin Bahr, Associate Professor, Department of Health Sciences
    California State University, Northridge
  • Kara Zagrafos, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health
    California State University, Fresno
  • Gayle Cummings, Assistant Dean and Program Director, Public Health Program
    Touro University
  • Deirdra Wilson, Assistant Professor and Chair of the Joint/Dual Degree Program
    Touro University
  • Lisa Goldman Rosas, Research Director, Program on Prevention Outcomes and Practices
    Stanford University
  • Megan O’Banion, Associate Dean, School of Nursing & Health Professions
    University of San Francisco
  • Richard Watanabe,  Vice Chair for Education, Keck School of Medicine
    University of Southern California
  • Michael Mink, Department Chair, Department of Public Health, College of Health and Human Services
    Sacramento State University
  • Michael Cousineau, Clinical Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Family Medicine
    University of Southern California
  • Morry Rao Hermón, Director of Philanthropy
    University of California, Berkeley (staff support)

List of Schools and Programs of Public Health in California

31 SPPH—seven UCs, 14 CSUs, and 10 private universities:

  • University of California (7)
    • *Berkeley, School of Public Health (MPH Program, DrPH, PhD)
    • *Los Angeles, School of Public Health (MPH, PhD, DrPH)
    • *Irvine, Program in Public Health (MPH Program, PhD)
    • San Diego (MPH Program, PhD)
    • *Davis, MPH Program
    • Merced, MPH Program
    • San Francisco, Public Health Nursing Program; Epidemiology & Biostatistics; Global Health
  • California State University (14)
    • *San Diego, School of Public Health (MPH, PhD)
    • *San Francisco, MPH Program
    • *San Jose, MPH Program
    • *Fresno, MPH Program
    • *Fullerton, MPH Program
    • Los Angeles, MPH Program
    • *Northridge, MPH Program
    • *Long Beach, MPH Program
    • *San Bernardino, MPH Program
    • San Marcos, MPH Program
    • Sacramento State, MPH Program
    • California State University, East Bay, BS in health Science with concentration in Public Health
    • Dominguez Hills, in process of developing graduate program in Public Health
    • Channel Islands, BS in Health Science broadly focused on public health
  • Private Universities (10)
    • *Loma Linda University, School of Public Health (MPH, DrPH, PhD)
    • *University of San Francisco, MPH Program
    • *University of Southern California, MPH Program
    • *California Baptist University, MPH Program
    • *Charles R. Drew University, MPH Program in Urban Health Disparities
    • *Claremont Graduate University, MPH Program, DrPH
    • Mount Saint Mary’s University, MS Program, Health Policy & Management (not an MPH)
    • *National University, MPH Program
    • Stanford University, MS in Community Health & Prevention Research; PhD in Epi; Dual MD/MPH
    • *Touro University – California, MPH Program

* Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredited