IU School of Public Health-Bloomington dean to return to teaching, research

  • July 19, 2016


BLOOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Mohammad R. Torabi, founding dean of the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, has announced that he plans to step down from his administrative role and return to the faculty at the successful conclusion of a national search for his successor, expected no earlier than June 2017. By that time, he will have led the school for seven years, and served IU and the school in faculty and leadership capacities for 35 years. A search committee will be appointed in the fall.

Torabi was appointed dean Jan. 1, 2012, having served from November 2010 as interim dean of the school’s previous incarnation, the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, founded in 1946. Under his leadership, the school successfully navigated the Council on Education in Public Health’s rigorous accreditation process, becoming an accredited school of public health in 2015. 

“The entire campus is deeply grateful to Dean Torabi for his stellar leadership during the transition of the school from HPER to public health,” said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel. “Dean Torabi successfully shepherded the school through its first accreditation process and has hired first-rate faculty members who are increasing multidisciplinary collaboration across our campus. With his characteristic care for the school and its community, Dean Torabi has provided a long lead time to ensure that we can have a national search for the school’s next leadership, and that the leadership transition, whenever it occurs, will be seamless.”

In the year ahead, Torabi will continue to hire exceptional faculty, keep up momentum with fundraising goals and ensure that the school he loves continues to grow and expand.

During Torabi’s tenure, the school has created one new department, the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics; expanded its master’s degree programs; increased credit hours and undergraduate enrollment; added bachelor’s degrees in environmental health and epidemiology; and launched a living-learning center for students focused on public health in Briscoe Residence Center. The school has made major advances in career services and academic advising, requiring all School of Public Health majors to meet with an assigned advisor before registering for class each term, while also offering more frequent access to targeted career fairs and guidance on internship acquisition and success.

In recent years, the school has advanced its mission to train multidisciplinary researchers who serve communities throughout Indiana, the nation and the world. The School of Public Health has more than 2,400 community members participating in school partnerships, and more than 1,000 individuals are taking courses from the school’s free, online workforce development portal, “Public Health & You.”

Torabi and his leadership team have helped elevate the research profile of the school, expanding international partnerships and disease-prevention programs. More than half of the school’s full-time faculty members are engaged in international initiatives, many pioneering new approaches to global health challenges such as Zika and Ebola.

Graduate and undergraduate research has also increased under Torabi’s direction. In the 2014-15 academic year, nearly half of faculty publications included student co-authors, who are studying many of the most pressing public health challenges facing the nation and the globe, such as obesity and healthful eating, rural health and other health disparities.

Over the past five years, annual private giving is up 350 percent, and the school’s private endowment balance has doubled, with more than 50 percent of the bicentennial campaign goal of $30 million achieved. 

Torabi’s retirement from the dean position will allow him to resume his personal research focus on the measurement and evaluation of school and public health education programs and factors associated with health behavior. His research extends into health promotion and key factors related to individuals' decisions in the prevention of drug abuse, cancer and HIV/AIDS infection. His research (some co-authored) is published extensively in a variety of major journals in the field, including American Journal of Health Behavior, American Journal of Health Education, Journal of School Health, Behavior Medicine and Health Education Journal.

Torabi has served as a research consultant for various state and national organizations, among them governmental and nongovernmental agencies, and he has presented his research at major national and international conferences. He served on the board of directors of several national and international organizations in his field, including presidency of the American Academy of Health Behavior, and is a fellow of five national organizations. 

He started his IU career in 1982 as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Applied Health Science and moved through the ranks from assistant professor in 1984 to Chancellor’s Professor of Applied Health Science in 1997. Along the way, he acted as coordinator and then director of graduate studies; co-director of the Rural Center for Study and Promotion of HIV/STD Prevention and Institute for Drug Abuse Prevention; and director of the Center for Health and Safety Studies, among other roles and responsibilities.

Torabi earned a Bachelor of Science (1975) and Master of Science in Public Health (1978) at Tehran University, a Master of Public Health at IU (1984) and a Ph.D. at Purdue University (1982).

Mohammad Torabi

Mohammad Torabi

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