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Environmental Public Health Programs Granted National Accreditation

RELEASED: Aug. 1, 2005

EAU CLAIRE — The environmental public health graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire was granted accreditation for the first time by the National Environmental Health Association.

Both the undergraduate and graduate programs received conditional accreditation, which is the norm for a new program up for first-time review, said Crispin Pierce, assistant professor in the department of public health professions and coordinator of the ENPH program.

"The only stipulation is that our programs have appropriate levels of faculty support," Pierce said. "Many hours went into putting together the self-study documents, hosting the site visit team last February, and presenting our program before the accreditation board in June. We are very pleased with the results, which provide many benefits to our current and future students."

Pierce said accreditation means greater regional, national and international recognition of UW-Eau Claire's graduate program, which is now one of only four programs in the nation to receive this distinction.

ENPH graduates work for regulatory agencies and industries concerned with environmental quality. Their work is directed toward controlling environmental health hazards. They protect the lives of others by making sure that food isn't contaminated or drinking water doesn't contain infectious organisms.

Masters students graduating from UW-Eau Claire's program will now be able to take the Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian exam directly upon graduation instead of being required to have at least two years of field experience to be eligible for this opportunity.

They also will be eligible to participate in the Commission Officer Student Extern Training Program of the U.S. Public Health Service.

"Graduation from an accredited program is a requirement to enter the U.S. Public Health Service. These federal jobs offer excellent benefits and exciting opportunities and are offered exclusively to graduates from accredited programs," Pierce said.

Finally, according to Pierce, UW-Eau Claire's ENPH graduate program is now eligible to apply for grants through the Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs, which last year awarded more than $70,000 in funds to recruit students, enhance diversity and carry out the association's mission.

Currently 40 students are enrolled in the undergraduate and graduate ENPH programs. There are 2.2 full-time faculty. Pierce expects those numbers to grow with increased demand for the accredited programs.

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JW/JB

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