Professor Barbara Curbow
June 28, 2019

As of July 1, 2019, Professor Barbara Curbow, who has served as chair of the Department of Behavioral and Community Health since 2014, will pass the chairship to Professor Robert S. Gold. 

In her five years as chair, Dr. Curbow has made significant contributions to the department and to the School of Public Health. Among the accomplishments of which she is most proud is being able to sustain the school’s Prevention Research Center during a period in which its primary funding lapsed (but research activities continued), and being part of the team that has successfully secured new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding for its reboot. Dr. Curbow will serve as a co-investigator for the newly-funded PRC, which has a focus on supporting LGBTQ mental health. The PRC will officially launch with an event on National Coming Out Day (October 11) this year. 

Dr. Curbow has also led many changes and improvements in the department, including a curriculum redesign for the undergraduate community health degree that emphasized better preparing students for careers through a variety of professional development and community engagement opportunities. 

“Our undergraduate curriculum was established long ago and focused primarily on health education,” said Dr. Curbow. “My goal was to update it to bring in more of the social and behavioral sciences, more current methods and more courses focusing on special populations courses and communications. Students were asking for more specific skills to prepare them for jobs.” 

In addition to curriculum updates, Dr. Curbow worked to secure donor support for undergraduate students while they are doing their full-time internship requirement, which can be a financial challenge for some students since the experience is unpaid. The Margaret W. Bridwell Internship Scholarship and Outreach Endowment has enabled the department to support more students with financial need each semester. 

Though no longer serving as chair, Dr. Curbow is still committed to the successful development and launch of several new online degree programs, including the forthcoming DrPH degree and the online MPH that the department will offer beginning this fall. 

In addition to her leadership role with the Prevention Research Center, Curbow also has plans to launch a colorectal cancer study looking at the trend of people getting cancer at younger ages (in their 30s and 40s) and ways to support young people to get screened and treated. And she says a new book or two is in the works -- one a textbook on poverty and public health for undergraduates and another exploring how the framework of public health can help people to better engage with and understand differing viewpoints.

Dr. Gold, who is currently serving as the School of Public Health's Director of Educational Innovation, will continue those responsibilities along with his new role as BCH chair. His role as chair is anticipated to be for a two-year period. 

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