In 1958, the college opened its doors with just 10 faculty and 15 students in three degree programs, and over the ensuing decades, it made enormous strides. As we reflect on the college’s six decades, I want to recognize the contributions of the former deans. Due in no small part to their achievements, the college today is known and respected for its leadership in education and research and for its contributions toward improving the health of individuals and communities, locally, nationally and globally.
Darrel J. Mase, Ph.D., (dean 1958-1971) was one of the original consultants who formulated plans for a new health center encompassing interdisciplinary health education, research and service. The college he founded drew praise from John Gardner, the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, who testified before a congressional committee in 1965 that the college should become a model for the nation.
Dr. Mase was elected founding president of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, and worked with fellow deans and lawmakers to secure critical federal funding for health professions schools through the Allied Health Professions Personnel Training Act of 1966. He never shied away from sharing his philosophies on health education and his outspoken advocacy earned him the nickname “Mr. Allied Health of America.”
Howard K. Suzuki, Ph.D., (dean 1971-1979) was instrumental in the formation of Alpha Eta Society, the national allied health honor society that was modeled on the honor society our college established in 1966. He also led the creation of the Southern Association of Allied Health Deans at Academic Health Centers.
Under his leadership, the college received sizable federal grants to improve and expand its academic offerings. These included a $585,000 grant from the Veterans Administration to establish a Bachelor of Health Science degree program, Florida’s first.
Richard R. Gutekunst, Ph.D., (dean 1980-1995) took an important role in health workforce development as the president of the Florida Alliance of 100+ for Health-Care Manpower. This group brought together representatives from public and private health care facilities, educational institutions and government agencies to address a severe shortage of health care workers in Florida in the 1980s.
Dr. Gutekunst also provided policy leadership at the national level as president of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions and was elected a fellow of the association, its highest honor.
Robert G. Frank, Ph.D., (dean 1995-2007) spearheaded several major initiatives, including significant increases in degree programs and research funding, and the construction of the HPNP Complex, placing most of the college’s departments under one roof for the first time in the college’s history.
His most lasting legacy may be leading the process to receive approval to add public health to the college’s mission, hiring some members of the public health leadership team and setting a goal to achieve accreditation as a school of public health, a goal the college met in 2009.
In the tradition of these great leaders, the faculty, staff and students of the College of Public Health and Health Professions will continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to excellence in education, research and service. We are ready to meet the public health and health care needs of the next 60 years.