History & Mission

The School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota is a nationally ranked top 10 institution. Our school offers a superior array of advanced degrees and is home to numerous world-renowned research and training centers.


Through excellence in education, research, and community engagement, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health advances health — from scientific discovery to public impact — by enhancing population health and preventing disease in the United States and globally.


1874 – Charles Hewitt, the secretary of the Minnesota State Board of Health, begins offering a class in sanitary science covering topics in personal and community hygiene, epidemic diseases, and physiology.

Late 1800s – Various university departments create programs in public health disciplines such as biostatistics, environmental health and epidemiology.

1939 – Drs. William and Charles Mayo provide endowment to help establish School of Public Health and a Mayo Professorship in Public Health.

1944 – The Board of Regents passes a motion to create the School of Public Health. Gaylord Anderson named head of the new school, but is serving in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. Student Health Service director Ruth Boynton serves in his place.

1948 – The school is the first in the country to grant a master’s degree in hospital administration.

1953 – NIH calls for a national expansion of biostatistics programs and offers grants to each public health school to help them grow. By the 1960s, the SPH biostatistics program trained more graduates than any other public health school in the country.

1954 – The School of Public Health spreads across five buildings on campus to accommodate for its growing size.

1958 – SPH founds the nation’s first graduate program in epidemiology.

1961 – Faculty member Ancel Keys appears on the cover of Time Magazine following his Seven Countries Study, which compared diet, risk factors, and rates of heart attack and stroke.

2000 – SPH establishes the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), one of the country’s best assets to help states monitor and understand trends in rates of health insurance coverage and access to care.

2005 – John Finnegan becomes Dean of the School of Public Health.

Lee Stauffer
Ancel Keys in the lab
Laboratory photo