Approximately four-fifths of the grant will be placed in an endowment to support faculty and students of the new school of public health, which is slated to open in the fall of 2011 after the accreditation for the Master of Public Health program is completed. The grant will also be used to support public health initiatives across the state.
Indiana faces a number of public health challenges. According to the 2009 America's Health Rankings, it has the second highest prevalence of tobacco use, behind only West Virginia, and is among the ten worst states for obesity, high cholesterol, infant mortality, and deaths due to stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.
"Major deficiencies in our region and state are resources, research, and trained personnel in the area of public health," said Fairbanks Foundation chairman Leonard J. Betley. "Health studies consistently show that disease prevention through public health initiatives has a significant impact on the physical and economic health of a community. Creating a...school of public health is a step long overdue, and we are pleased to be part of the effort."