The way we were - CEPH turns 45!

While we were all enjoying the quiet of the holidays last month, CEPH turned 45! When CEPH was born, Richard Nixon had just resigned in disgrace, and Gerald Ford became the 38th president of the United States. We were in the midst of a worldwide recession; daylight saving time started four months early; and the nationwide speed limit was set to 55 miles per hour to conserve fuel, which cost 42 cents a gallon. Notable inventions were the MRI scanner and liposuction. Barbra Streisand topped the charts with “The Way We Were,” and Stephen King published his debut novel, “Carrie.”

CEPH’s proud parents were the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) and the American Public Health Association (APHA), who had been conducting the accreditation process since 1946. The person who shepherded the transition to CEPH was John Romani, who later became president of APHA but who, at the time, was the chair of APHA’s Committee on Professional Education. John Romani was a professor of health administration at the University of Michigan. Members of the joint advisory committee that hammered out the agreement to start an independent accrediting agency included the following:

Representing ASPH:

  • Reuel A. Stallones, Dean, University of Texas
  • W. Fred Mayes, Dean, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Lee Stauffer, Dean, University of Minnesota

Representing APHA:

  • William Hiscock, Regional Planning Council
  • Quentin Smith, University of Florida Department of Community Dentistry
  • Clarence E. Pearson, Metropolitan Life Insurance

The CEPH articles of incorporation were signed by the executive directors of ASPH (Ray Cotton) and APHA (William McBeath) and by the APHA employee who would become CEPH’s first executive director (Maggie Matthews). Since that time, CEPH has only had three more executive directors – Janet Strauss, Pat Evans, and Laura Rasar King. The articles were filed in Washington, DC on December 11, 1974. When CEPH was founded, it accredited 10 schools of public health, and its founding board members included Frank Ellis (APHA), Larry Gordon (APHA), Doris Roberts (APHA), Reuel Stallones (ASPH), Lee Stauffer (ASPH), Larry Green (ASPH), Leslie Martin (Public Member), and Allan Tucker (Public Member).

We owe a debt of gratitude for the foresight of our founders and their commitment to quality education in public health. Thanks to them, the ASPPH, APHA, and CEPH partnership is thriving, and CEPH's reach has expanded. Today, we accredit 210 public health training units in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 6 countries. These units include 67 schools of public health, 127 public health programs located in settings outside schools, and 16 standalone baccalaureate programs. We have just over 50 official applicants for accreditation expected to join the ranks of the accredited - phasing in over the next three years. 40% of the accredited units offer a public health bachelor’s degree, 44% offer a doctoral degree, and all but the 16 bachelor’s-only programs offer the MPH. Among these degree programs, we track over 2,700 individual concentrations. Public health education is growing, strong, and vibrant! I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings!

Written by: Laura Rasar King, EdD, MPH