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After twenty years, the School of Health Professions is still going strong.

The School of Health Professions celebrates its 20-year anniversary in 2021. Photo by Keith Borgmeyer

Published on Show Me Mizzou May 5, 2021

Mizzou health professions alumni are at the center of the pandemic, serving as public health analysts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, running companies that provide medical oxygen to hospitals, and treating patients as respiratory therapists. But if the coronavirus had hit before the early 2000s, that might not be the case.

Twenty years ago, the School of Health Related Professions was a unit in the School of Medicine. The university didn’t have a public health program or a health sciences program. With limited resources, the school within a school lacked the capacity to expand. Yet there was a growing shortage of health professionals in Missouri.

So, the faculty, spearheaded by then Director Richard Oliver, BS MT ’71, M Ed ’73, PhD ’77, petitioned the board of curators to become a freestanding unit, and, in 2001, the School of Health Professions was born.

Since then, the school has launched numerous degree programs, including a bachelor’s and master’s in public health and a bachelor’s in health sciences, which is now the No. 1 major at MU on campus. Students work alongside faculty in multiple outpatient clinics, providing much-needed services to the community. Faculty from 13 disciplines conduct collaborative research in health disparities, language development, autism interventions and stroke rehabilitation. And alumni have become leaders in their field, shaping the future of health care delivery in Missouri and beyond.

Dean Kristofer Hagglund doesn’t see the school slowing down any time soon: “We will play a critical role in community health and sophisticated team-based health care. That includes advancing workforce diversity and reducing health disparities. When it comes to research, I predict that our school will more than double its productivity. And, who knows, maybe we will also obtain a new state-of-the-art facility.”

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