July 2019

UNT launches public health degree to meet need for ‘most in-demand jobs’

A new report shows that six of the eight jobs with the most job growth are in the healthcare industry.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – According to a new CareerCast report, health professions have the highest rate of job growth in the U.S. and the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service (HPS) is ready to prepare students for those careers with a new Bachelor of Science in Public Health. The degree program, which is housed in the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services, prepares professionals to promote health and identify, prevent and solve health problems at the community, local national and global levels.

Dr. Neale Chumbler, dean of the college who has a background in public health, says he’s excited to offer a degree program that will prepare students for these careers.

“The majority of these high-demand healthcare professions require only a bachelor’s degree and we’re here to prepare you for these entry level health jobs – in fields such as health education, environmental health, industry and government sectors, as well as other positions in hospitals,” Dr. Chumbler said. “These are all rewarding professions that you can jump into as soon as you walk out of our doors with your HPS public health degree in hand.”

The degree, which requires 39-credit-hours in the major, provides a broad perspective of public health and graduates may choose from a wide variety of specializations including:

  • Community health
  • Nutritional health
  • Epidemiology
  • Social and behavioral health
  • Policy and health management
  • Health communications and public relations
  • Environmental health
  • Health disparities


There also are options for minors in a variety of areas including addiction studies, applied gerontology, emergency administration and planning, and more.

Two new faculty will be joining HPS as part of the program – Dr. Chisom Odoh and Dr. Liam O’Neill. Dr. Odoh is a graduate from the University of Louisville and has just completed her post-doctoral fellowship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. O’Neill will be transferring from the UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health.

“We are extremely proud of the rich diversity and interdisciplinary culture of our department. The addition of such brilliant scholars and experienced educators will further enhance our mission to be innovative educators and produce meaningful scholarship that will strengthen the professional capacity of our students and broaden services to the community at large,” said Dr. Chandra Carey, department chair and associate professor.

For more information on the new Bachelor of Science in Public Health, visit rhs.hps.unt.edu/publichealth or call (940) 565-2488.


Literacy program at UNT aims to prevent reading challenges in preschool-aged children

In 2016-17, approximately 55 percent of children in Denton county schools met grade level expectations for reading on the STAAR test. UNT Speech and Hearing Center hopes to ultimately improve that percentage with a new preschool literacy program.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service (HPS) Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology is offering a language-literacy preschool at the UNT Speech and Hearing Center to ready children for entry into kindergarten and first grade. Dr. Theresa Kouri, principal lecturer and clinical director for speech-language pathology, is using evidence-based educational practices for children ages 4 to 6 that have been proven highly effective in preventing reading delays and strengthening pre-literacy skills. The training strategies are appropriate for children regardless of their reading level and include guided language-literacy instructional activities in a curriculum that focuses on speech production, expressive and receptive language skills, as well as pre-literacy skills, such as phonics, sight word recognition and print awareness.

“It has been demonstrated that early intervention is the most effective mechanism for preventing more pronounced literacy delays during early and later elementary school years,” Dr. Kouri said. “For example, in many of our school-aged clients with dyslexia, many early and basic literacy skills are weak or missing. It is believed that had these skills been established earlier through effective early intervention, a number of reading delays may have been reduced.”

The UNT language-literacy preschool will be offered in the morning two to three days per week depending on a child’s programming needs. It will include large and small group instruction as well as individual therapy sessions if needed. The cost is $100 per week, but full or partial scholarships – funded through the generosity of the Dallas Scottish Rite Foundation and Independent Bank – are available as needed or requested.

Dr. Neale Chumbler, dean of the college, says this program is one of many in HPS that’s making a difference.

“I applaud Dr. Kouri’s hard work in leading an innovative service delivery program for children in Denton who can benefit tremendously from strengthening their pre-literacy skills,” Dr. Chumbler said. “This program, which employs cutting-edge techniques, is one of several key HPS services that aims to improve the health and well-being of the community.” 

Parents with children in Dr. Kouri’s summer preschool program say they’ve seen improvement in their children’s ability to build and recognize words and identify letter-sound associations, as well as increase vocabulary and speech production skills.

To register for the program or for more information, call (940) 565-2262.


UNT receives $400k grant to develop programs to help prevent homelessness and criminal recidivism in rural communities

The grant from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will be used to expand their Healthy Community Collaborative program to less densely populated areas of Texas.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service (HPS) has received $400,000 in funding from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (THHSC) to expand its Healthy Community Collaborative (HCC) program, which promotes collaboration between public and private sectors to help increase access to much-needed services for people experiencing homelessness, mental illness, or who might have co-occurring substance abuse or primary care health issues, to rural communities. Subject matter experts in the departments of Public Administration, Rehabilitation and Health Services and Criminal Justice are teaming up to develop and implement a learning community and provide consultation and training services for emergency personnel, clergy and other community leaders in rural areas so they can development their own programs for at-risk populations.

“Rural areas often do not have access to the same mental health, behavioral health or recovery-oriented resources that are available in urban areas,” said Dr. Abraham David Benavides, associate professor of Public Administration and co-principal investigator for the grant. “Our college has extensive experience designing learning communities and we aim to arm stakeholders with the tools they need to help prevent homelessness and criminal recidivism.”

Various rural counties have been identified for the 15-month project including – Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Gonzales, Marion, Harrison, Panola, Victoria and Lamar. Others are expected to join as well.

“By training community leaders in these areas to recognize the barriers to successful recovery and providing them with appropriate, evidence-based mental health and/or substance use disorder interventions , post-arrest jail diversion options, housing services and meaningful job development strategies, we anticipate a positive impact for individuals who are homeless and those with repeated arrests,” said Dr. Chandra Carey, chair of the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services and co-principal investigator for the grant. “Hopefully, the success of this program will demonstrate that it can be implemented throughout the state and ultimately improve the quality of life for these individuals and service provisions within these communities.”

Dr. Neale Chumbler, dean of the college, says this project demonstrates the importance of interdisciplinary research. 

“This generous funding from THHSC allows our talented faculty across departments to implement their skillsets and use their expertise to impact not only the lives of at-risk individuals, but to empower communities to provide much-needed resources that may not otherwise be accessible to their populations,” Dr. Chumbler said. “I look forward to seeing the results of this project, and what other funding and research opportunities it may bring about that allow this college to continue to make a difference locally and globally.”