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Academic Health Center Oral History Project

About the School of Public Health

Public health programs were part of the University beginning in 1874. However, it was not until 1944 that the Board of Regents created the School of Public Health. In the years that followed, the School of Public Health added more and more areas of expertise. The University became the first in the country to grant a master’s degree in hospital administration in 1948, for example, and founded the nation’s first Ph.D. program in epidemiology in 1958.

Please click here for a timeline of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Anderson, Robert K.

RK Anderson.jpg In 1956, Robert K. Anderson came to the University of Minnesota with a joint appointment as a faculty member in the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Public Health. He served as the Associate Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine from 1965 to 1971. With Ruth Foster, he invented the Gentle Leader® Headcollar in 1982. In his dual roles in veterinary medicine and public health, Anderson co-founded and served as director of CENSHARE, the Center to Study Human-Animal Relationships and Environments, one of the first centers to train and promote companion animal therapy. He retired in 1985. He died October 12, 2012.

Bakdash, Bashar

BBakdash Pic.jpg Dr. Bashar Bakdash arrived at the University of Minnesota in 1974 and held a dual appointment in the School of Dentistry and the School of Public Health. In 1988, Dr. Bakdash became director of the Division of Periodontology. At the time of his interview, Dr. Bakdash was serving as interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in addition to his position as professor and director of the Division of Periodontology.

Blackburn, Henry

black002.jpgHenry Blackburn earned his M.S. from the University of Minnesota in 1957 and became a medical fellow in the Department of Medicine in 1953. In 1956, he became a faculty member in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene in the School of Public Health, where he worked with Ancel Keys. Upon the retirement of Dr. Keys in 1972, Dr. Blackburn was appointed director of the Laboratory, a position he held until its merger with the Division of Epidemiology in 1983. He then became head of the new Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, a position he held until 1990.

Dornblaser, Bright

dornb001.jpg Bright Dornblaser received his B.A. in 1949 and his masters in hospital administration in 1952 from the University of Minnesota. From 1967 until the early 1980s, he directed the School of Public Health's Program in Hospital and Health Care Administration.

Kane, Robert

RKane.jpg Dr. Robert Kane was dean of the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health from 1985 to 1990. He holds the Minnesota Chair in Long-Term Aging and has served as director of Clinical Outcomes Research since 1993 and director of the Center on Aging since 1994.

Kralewski, John

Kralewski.jpg John Kralewski received his B.S. in Pharmacy in 1956, his Masters in Hospital Administration in 1962, and his Ph.D. in 1969, all from the University of Minnesota. He founded the Institute for Health Services Research at the University in 1977 and served as director from 1977 until 1998.

Leonard, Barbara

BLeonard.jpgDr. Barbara Leonard earned her master's in 1965 and her Ph.D. in 1983, both from the University of Minnesota. She served as a professor in the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing at the University. Dr. Leonard founded the Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs in 1993. She retired in 2010.

Leyasmeyer, Edith

Leyasmeyer.jpeg Edith Leyasmeyer received her Ph.D. in Hospital and Health Care Administration from the University of Minnesota in 1968. She joined the faculty of the School of Public Health in 1971. From 1972 to 1981, she worked in the Area Health Education Center at the University, first as the associate director and then as director. In 1980, she joined the dean's office in the School of Public Health, working as the Interim Dean, Associate Dean and Executive Officer, and Dean (starting in 1996). She retired in 2001.

Luepker, Russell

RLuepker.jpg In 1976, Dr. Russell Luepker joined the University of Minnesota and became part of the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, which later part of the Division of Epidemiology. He became associate director of the Division in 1986 and served as Division head from 1991 to 2004. He became director of Graduate Studies for the Division in 2004 and continues to serve on the faculty in the School of Public Health.

Spradley, Barbara

Barbara Spradley has been an instructor, assistant professor, adjunct faculty member, and associate professor at the College of St. Catherine and the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. She became assistant director of the Program in Public Health Nursing in the School of Public Health at the University in 1983.

Stauffer, Lee

Stauffer.jpg Lee Stauffer received his Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota in 1955. He joined the faculty of the School of Public Health in 1955 as a sanitarian and assistant professor. From 1970 to 1982, Stauffer served as Dean of the School of Public Health. He retired from the University of Minnesota in 1991.

Stryker-Gordon, Ruth

Stryker-Gordon_Ruth.jpg Ruth Stryker-Gordon received her B.A. in Public Health Nursing from the University of Minnesota in 1948. In 1972, she returned to the University as an assistant professor in the Center for Long Term Care Administrative Education in Hospital and Health Care Administration Program in the School of Public Health. She became an associate professor in 1979. She retired in 1989.

Veninga, Robert

Veninga1.jpg Robert Veninga earned a baccalaureate, masters, and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota during the 1960s and early 1970s. In 1969, he joined the faculty of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, serving as an assistant dean from 1972 to 1976, and as associate dean and executive officer of the School from 1976 to 1980. From 1985 to 87, he was division head of Health Management and Policy.

Weckwerth, Vernon

VWeckwerth.JPG Vernon Weckwerth completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Minnesota. Weckwerth returned to the University of Minnesota as a summer program administrator and lecturer. He became a professor of hospital administration in the School of Public Health in 1964. During his tenure, he began the Independent Study Program, tailored as an executive training program particularly for rural administrators. In that same year, Weckwerth became a coordinator for the Office of Continuing Hospital and Health Care Education. In 1969, he also became a professor in the Department of Family Practice, which he launched. He formally retired in 2009, but continues to do work with the University.