Following a successful year as interim chair of the Department of Social and Public Health, Dr. Tania Basta was selected from a national pool as the permanent chair and is excited to continue at the helm of the department.
Basta was appointed to the position in July 2016 to replace Dr. Douglas Bolon. After a nationwide search, Ohio University decided in July 2017 that Basta was the right person to continue leading the department.
In a recent interview, Basta was asked what she enjoyed about the first year as chair.
“It’s nice to be the one who gets to guide the strategic planning for the department and help decide where we want to go in the future,” she said. “The one thing I’ve enjoyed the most is motivating the faculty to want to elevate our department to be known for something that sets us apart from other departments, colleges and universities.”
That direction and purpose is rural public health.
Basta said that the direction of rural public health fits naturally with the department in that much of Appalachia is considered rural. She said that not many programs in the country have a rural health focus so having that niche also helps the department stand out on a national level.
Recently, the department began a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program that has a rural social and behavioral health focus. Basta said this complements the existing rural-focused Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program and the Appalachian Rural Health Institute (ARHI), which are both housed in the Department of Social and Public Health.
“We should be recruiting students who have an interest in rural health, and we should be recruiting faculty who are conducting rural research. If the Department of Social and Public Health is known for rural health nationally, we will succeed in recruiting students and faculty and elevating our department to national prominence for rural health,” said Basta.
Students in the seven different programs offered by the department are able to have practicums and clinicals in rural areas and have been successful in doing so, she added.
Currently in the process of putting together the department’s strategic plan, Basta said she is looking at all of the programs that are accredited to make sure they maintain that accreditation while also looking at other programs to see if there is a way to move them toward accreditation. She said that accreditation allows for the programs to gain national and international exposure and would likely increase interest in rural public health.
Having worked for the university since 2006, Basta clearly calls the campus home. Her new role will allow her to continue to take on new challenges.
“Managing a department is very different than teaching every day and doing research in my own little bubble. I think I’ve met the challenge fairly well and have enjoyed the successes I’ve seen in the faculty,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the next several years to see where this department will go.”