Stephen M. Shortell, dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, has announced that he will complete his service as dean effective July 1, 2013. Shortell will remain at the School of Public Health as the Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management.
Over the course of his more than 10 years as dean, Shortell has moved the School forward in addressing today’s and tomorrow’s public health challenges. One of the most serious challenges faced by schools of public health is how to meet the critical shortage of trained, culturally competent public health professionals. With that in mind, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, under Shortell’s leadership, has expanded educational opportunities on a number of fronts.
Early in Shortell’s tenure, in 2003, the School reestablished an undergraduate major in public health, which had ceased decades earlier. The major has grown to include over 300 students and received UC Berkeley’s Innovation in Education Award in 2006. Its success and popularity led UC Berkeley to provide additional resources to expand enrollment in the program.
In 2008, the School created the Center for Health Leadership to develop the diverse leaders needed to help solve the health challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Through practice-based seminars, courses, internships, and community projects, the center strengthens graduate students’ leadership competencies and opportunities, and prepares them to be effective health leaders and professionals.
To train the profession’s current leaders, the School established the Global Health Leadership Forum, a certificate program for health care leaders and executives focusing on globally-sourced innovations in health policy, technology, and management. Since its inception nine years ago, this executive education program has trained more than 230 leaders from 51 countries, including senior health leaders of nations and and senior executives of enterprises such as insurance, pharmaceutical, health care delivery, and health care. Shortell was instrumental in developing the forum and serves as one of its faculty directors.
Most recently, the School launched a largely online M.P.H. program—the first online degree program at UC Berkeley—that allows working professionals to earn a UC Berkeley-quality master’s degree in public health without leaving their jobs. The self-supporting program, currently in its second semester, will provide important resources for the School.
One of the School’s most significant accomplishments under the dean’s leadership is the increase in the diversity of the School’s enrollment: The percentage of enrolled underrepresented minority students increased from 9% in 2005 to 25% in 2012.
Since Shortell began his service as dean, the School has successfully recruited 20 new faculty members across a wide range of fields and disciplines. It has also further enhanced its long-established strength in research by creating a number of new research centers, including the Center for Global Public Health, which has ongoing investigations in 30 countries worldwide; the Berkeley Center for Health Technology; the Center for Green Chemistry, the Center for Exposure Biology; the Health Research for Action center; and significant expansion of the Bixby Center for Population Health and Sustainability. The School consistently ranks among the top two to three units on the Berkeley campus in terms of outside research funding.
In 2008, the School launched “The Campaign for the School of Public Health,” part of the Berkeley campus’s fundraising campaign, which ends in December 2013. To date, the campaign has raised $107 million toward a goal of $110 million. This includes the creation of a $3 million endowed chair in global public health; a $2 million endowed chair in health policy and economics; and a $2 million endowed chair in informatics, comparative effectiveness, and outcomes research. Other funds raised include a $5 million gift from Kaiser Permanente to support students who aim to serve underserved and vulnerable populations, and a $500,000 gift from the Kalmanovitz Foundation to support public health doctoral students (to be matched by the Berkeley campus). In addition, the School received a $15 million gift from the Bixby Foundation, $5 million of which is dedicated toward a new building for the School of Public Health.
Statewide and nationally, Shortell has served in numerous leadership roles. He is chair and principal investigator of California’s Right Care Initiative, which is designed to improve health plan and medical group performance on measures related to better diabetes and cardiovascular care. He is an ongoing adviser to the Health Policy Institute of Kaiser Permanente. He chaired a 31-person Blue Ribbon Committee to review the health care needs of residents in San Francisco’s South of Market Area in conjunction with California Pacific Medical Center’s health care campus building plans and its St. Luke’s Hospital. He also served as first chair of the technical advisory committee for the Integrated Health Association’s Pay for Performance program. He currently serves as the chair of the The Berkeley Forum to Improve California’s Health Care System and is on the Governor’s Task Force on the state’s “Get Healthy California” initiative. Nationally he has been an adviser to the President on health care reform legislation, served on a number of IOM committees, and chaired the Association of Schools of Public Health Education Committee that developed the field’s first competencies for the M.P.H. degree.
“Steve Shortell has made important and lasting contributions to Berkeley and to the field of public health,” said George W. Breslauer, UC Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost. “We have been fortunate to have someone with his vision at the helm.”
Before joining UC Berkeley, Shortell was the A.C. Buehler Distinguished Professor of Health Services Management at Northwestern University from 1992 to 1998, and a faculty member at the University of Washington from 1974 to 1982. He earned an M.B.A. at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1970, and a Ph.D. in behavioral science from the same school in 1972. He earned his master’s degree in public health at UCLA in 1968.
By Michael S. Broder