Cultivating the Future Leadership of Public Health

January 28, 2021
GPH New Building


I’m honored and excited to serve as the inaugural director of GPH’s new DrPH program. The events of the past year have shown that leadership matters, and public health must deliver leaders who can overcome the challenges laid bare by the COVID pandemic, anti-racism protests, and the many other crises jeopardizing global health and wellbeing.

The DrPH is the highest professional degree in public health, yet the percentage of accredited schools of public health offering it actually decreased from 2017-2019, and fewer than half (43 percent) now include the degree (CEPH DrPH Trends). This presents GPH with the crucial task and responsibility of helping to fill the emerging gap in public health leadership.

The Framing the Future Task Force, convened by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), presented a vision for the 21st century DrPH graduate, which aims for developing “…a transformative leader with expertise in evidence-based public health practice and research who is able to convene diverse partners, communicate to effect change across a range of sectors and settings, synthesize findings, and generate practice-based evidence…” (ASPPH).

This vision shapes the GPH DrPH program and our goal of training innovative leaders who will develop, implement, and disseminate evidence-based programs and policies to address global public health issues, framed by a health equity lens. Our strengths, including our impressive interdisciplinary faculty, global health networks, and location in New York City, will serve as exceptional resources for our students.

One of my priorities will be cultivating a learning community of students. Public health is a collaborative field, and engaging students to support each other in their professional development will help produce a lasting global network of public health leaders.

I’d like to thank all those who agreed to serve on the new DrPH Committee: Julie Avina, Jo Ivey Boufford, Yang Feng, Andy Goodman, José Pagán, Niyati Parekh, and Emmanuel Peprah. I look forward to working with them, and I welcome the contributions of all interested faculty. I hope that many of you will become faculty mentors for our DrPH students. Together, we’ll create a distinctive DrPH program that builds the future, transformative leadership of global public health.


Cheryl Merzel

Cheryl Merzel, DrPH, MPH
Director of the DrPH program
Director of Educational Advancement and Assessment
Clinical Associate Professor of Community Health Science and Practice