Public Health alums: Don’t dismiss EOH department

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Dear President Pestello,

We as graduate alumni of the SLU CPHSJ respectfully express our united deep concern for the possible de-establishment of the Environmental & Occupational Health (EOH) Department, which has existed as a degree program for over 25 years.

The EOH Department has empowered alumni and students to prevent fatal waterborne diseases globally, curb the spread of Zika virus through vector control nationally and reduce lead exposure in children in the St. Louis area. Without the EOH department, SLU would no longer be preparing environmental health practitioners who impact the most essential of resources affecting everyone’s health locally and globally in keeping our land, water and air safe. At a minimum, this equates to a significant loss to the St. Louis region, given that there is no equivalent replacement program in any of the neighboring schools.

SLU’s EOH Department is fundamental in training public health practitioners. Graduates have and continue to work in areas to prevent arsenic contamination globally, reduce Missouri lead pollutants and monitor air radiation in St. Louis. EOH alumni have worked with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. military, and urban and rural communities with cross-cutting competencies for mitigating and preventing disasters. To lose a program that contributes so significantly to the success of public health endeavors would unquestionably have a lasting harmful impact on SLU stakeholders.

Although we realize that the University has difficult decisions to make regarding its structure, we encourage you to reconsider de-establishing the EOH Department at Saint Louis University. It has never been a more critical time to not only sustain but strengthen the field of public health. The loss of this department would inevitably impact the quality of the entire program, as environmental health is a core component of public health. The College for Public Health and Social Justice is key to our Jesuit mission, and environmental health is inextricably woven into the field of public health.

We urge the University and college to support the EOH Department and its widespread impact on students and the public health field. We ask you to continue to seek alternatives in sustaining this crucial program. We welcome discussion on how we can support this critical program in a way that is feasible and rewarding for all its stakeholders and continue to support the Jesuit mission.

Respectfully,

Saint Louis University College for Public Health & Social Justice Alumni

Stephen Passman, MPH

Gregory Doyon, MPH

Nikhil Kothegal, MPH

Kee-Hean Ong, MPH, PhD, CIH

Leslie Tornburg, MPH

Erica Suhling, MPH

Tyler White, MPH, REHS

Parul Mahajan, MBBS, MPH

Jenna Vavra, MPH

Kristen Stevens, MPH

Emily Bixler, MPH, CPH, ATC

Ying Wang, MPH

Matthew Baxendale, MPH

Olaniyi Olayinka, MBChB, MPH

Daniel Berg, MD MPH

Regina Hawkins, MPH

Stephen Goo, MPH

Jill Miller, MPH

Alexandra Feld (Schwach)

Mark Krupa, MPH

Jake Gilliland, MPH, MSC

Tosin Akinlade, MPH