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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.jpgIn 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 served as a professor emeritus in both the School of Public Health and the College of Veterinary Medicine until his death on 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. (His dual appointment ended with the closure of the public health program in the Dental School in 1992.) 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 received his MD from Tulane University in 1948, and his MS from the University of Minnesota in 1957. He joined the University of Minnesota as a medical fellow in the Department of Medicine in 1953. From 1956, he was 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.jpgBright Dornblaser received his BA 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.

Kralewski, John

Kralewski.jpgJohn Kralewski received his BS in Pharmacy in 1956, his Masters in Hospital Administration in 1962, and his PhD in 1969, all from the University of Minnesota. He was founding director of the Institute for Health Services Research at the University from 1977 until 1998.

Leyasmeyer, Edith

Leyasmeyer.jpegEdith Leyasmeyer received her PhD 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 1972-81, she worked in the Area Health Education Center at the University of Minnesota, first as the Associate Director 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.

Spradley, Barbara

Barbara Spradley was born and raised in China to missionary parents. She and her family returned to the United States during World War II after being detained as prisoners by the Japanese in 1943. In 1969 she began her Minnesota career as the assistant supervisor of public health nursing at the Minneapolis Combined Nursing Service. She has been an instructor, assistant professor, adjunct faculty member, and associate professor at the College of St. Catherine and the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. She became assistant director of the Program in Public Health Nursing in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in 1983.

Stauffer, Lee

Stauffer.jpgLee Stauffer receive 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.jpgRuth Stryker-Gordon received her BA in Public Health Nursing from the University of Minnesota in 1948 and her MA in Education from the College of St. Thomas in 1967. She worked as a tuberculosis field nurse for the Minnesota Department of Health for a year after graduating from nursing school, and from 1954-58 worked as a school nurse for the Minneapolis Board of Education. She worked as a pediatric nurse, supervisor, administrator, and instructor at various Twin Cities hospitals during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1972, she became assistant professor in the Center for Long Term Care Administrative Education in the Program in Hospital and Health Care Administration in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

Veninga, Robert

Veninga1.jpgRobert 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 (SPH) at the University of Minnesota, serving as an assistant dean from 1972 to 1976, and as associate dean and executive officer of the SPH from 1976-1980. From 1985-87, 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. He earned his B.S. in 1954 in Mathematics and Education while in the Air Force ROTC. He earned his M.S. in 1956 in Biostatistics and Mathematics, and his Ph.D. in 1963 in Biostatistics and Public Health. While working on his Ph.D., from 1958 to 1959, Weckwerth taught Biostatistics in the School of Public Health and also worked in Chicago as the head of the Department of Research and Statistics of the AHA and as Assistant Director of Hospital Research and the Educational Trust. Weckwerth returned to the University of Minnesota as a summer program administrator and lecturer. Because of his experiences in Chicago, 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.