PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (May 10, 2023) – Prairie View A&M University is no stranger to the field of health. Just in the past year, the University celebrated the 100thth anniversary of the first class to graduate from its College of Nursing.

For nearly a decade, the Undergraduate Medical Academy has demonstrated the integration of leadership development and pre-medical science with great success.

Wellness in Houston, launched during the pandemic, delivers educational workshops, programs and other events focusing on health, wellness, finance, nutrition and agriculture to residents in the Greater Houston Area.

And just last spring, PVAMU made history by becoming the first Historically Black College/University to launch not one but two degrees in public health.

PVAMU will add to its long list of “firsts” in the health care field this fall by opening a new school. Following recent approval by The Texas A&M University System and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the University will establish a School of Public and Allied Health.

The new School will house growing programs in the current Department of Health and Kinesiology and the new degrees in Public Health.

“Degree programs in the Department of Health and Kinesiology have grown over the last several years to support approximately 900 majors in Kinesiology (BS), Health (BS, MED/MS), and Physical Education (MED/MS),” Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs James M. Palmer said in a memorandum to the campus community today. “This is the fastest growing department and set of majors on campus. Behavioral Aspects of Health and Public Health constitute the fastest growing bachelor’s fields across the nation.”

The new School of Public and Allied Health will increase the visibility of the University, establish new health-related partnerships, and support cutting-edge research in critical mission-driven areas. “The School will identify and attract highly qualified faculty and students from diverse perspectives, cultures, ethnicities and socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds with a specific interest in improving the health of our communities,” Palmer said.

Before her departure, immediate past president Ruth J. Simmons sought confirmation from the Brown Foundation, Inc. to utilize the $1 million they donated to help establish the new School. “We are grateful for their investment,” said Palmer. In its initial stage of establishment and growth, the School will be led by an executive director.

“I am quite pleased to report that the current Department Head of Health and Kinesiology, Dr. Angela Branch-Vital, has agreed to assume this role,” said Palmer. “Dr. Branch-Vital has ably led her current department through unprecedented growth and worked with Dean of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Alphonso Keaton to establish the Public Health degree.”

“This is a very exciting time for Prairie View A&M University,” said Keaton. “The newly approved School of Public and Allied Health will serve as a model learning center, providing innovative curriculum and research opportunities in Public and Allied Health, which will create a learning environment that will allow our students and faculty the opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address health and health care disparities across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups in Texas, nationally, and globally.”

With a Ph.D. from the University of Texas School of Public Health and concentrations in epidemiology and biostatistics, Branch-Vital is poised to lay the foundation for the new School and pursue accreditation through the Council of Education for Public Health.

“I am immensely excited about the numerous opportunities the School of Public and Allied Health will offer to our students, institutions, and targeted populations,” said Branch-Vital. “Our school will be committed to academic excellence and top-tier research to promote a holistic quality of life.”

Introducing the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources

PVAMU farm

In addition to the announcement of PVAMU’s new School of Public and Allied Health, one of the University’s other eight colleges and schools is set to undergo changes in time for the fall semester. The College of Agriculture and Human Sciences will become the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources to accommodate new degrees in natural resources and nutrition, plus the move of its Master of Science in Human Sciences program to the Whitlowe R. Green College of Education .

“Initially, the MS in Human Sciences program was broad, offering various courses that prepared students for employment in settings related to social services. Over the years, the program furthered its transformation by shifting its focus to mental and family health counseling,” said Palmer.

The program’s move will provide more students with greater access to courses in mental health. It will also provide a solid foundation for preparing certified school counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed mental health counselors under one academic unit. In addition, “such a configuration would benefit current and prospective students seeking one or more certifications or licenses,” Palmer said.

Moving forward, the WRGCOE will work towards developing a 60-semester credit hour degree that supports requirements for state licensing. The current 36-semester credit hour degree will eventually be phased out.

In regards to CAHS’ new name and following discussion and input from the College’s faculty, staff, 20-member Advisory Board, and university leadership, the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources is more inclusive of the disciplines represented, better reflects the scope, reach and diversity of the College and its signature programs, and will facilitate student recruitment.

“As we became a premier 1890 institution and College of the First Class, we are preparing students and the five million Texans across the communities we serve to develop solutions for the challenges that lie ahead,” said CAHS Dean Gerard D’Souza. “Given our wide range and complexity, the two-year planning process included analyzing performance metrics critical to cementing our role as a modern land grant university, the only one in the greater Houston area. This intentionally and strategically positions us to respond to the growing needs of students for majors, careers, and experiential learning opportunities in high-demand areas such as nutrition and wellness, animal and pre-veterinary sciences, agricultural science education and teacher certification, nature- based solutions to energy and climate change adaptation and mitigation which, among other core areas that span the entire food supply chain, contribute to a more secure and sustainable future.”

PVAMU officially welcomes its new School of Public and Allied Health and College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources on Sept. 1. “These continue to be exciting times for PVAMU and its growth and evolution,” said Palmer.