Clark University, City of Worcester forge academic health partnership

February 26, 2014
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The Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise at Clark University will partner with the Worcester Division of Public Health.

The City of Worcester and Clark University announce the creation of an innovative Academic Health Department, the result of a partnership combining scholarship and practice to improve public health.

The city's Division of Public Health and the University's Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, together through the Academic Health Department, will harness a variety of relationships and, based upon consideration of local needs and resources, will focus on the following:

  • Community engagement/Improve the public's health
    The ultimate goal is to ensure that prevention and intervention efforts are supported by science and effective practice to improve the public's health through the Community Health Improvement Plan.
  • Student education/Workforce development
    Engaging with timely, relevant topics to increase knowledge and skills, this two-way communication contributes to both workforce development and faculty connection with practitioners.
  • Practice-focused research
    Relevant research opportunities are identified as stakeholders discuss needs, emphasizing the iterative cycle where research translates to practice and practice informs research.
  • Shared funding opportunities
    Existing resources may be leveraged or new ones identified through collaboration.

"We're gratified to play a key role in this collaboration, which should benefit the city as well as the University," said Clark University President David P. Angel. "Clark's intellectual resources and foundation of student engagement in the community make the University a valuable ally in this effort to improve and transform public health in Worcester and beyond."

John G. O'Brien, the Jane and William Mosakowski Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at Clark University and past president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care and a national leader in advocating for the health of vulnerable populations, and Worcester Public Health Director Derek Brindisi led the Academic Health Department partnership process.

"We are extremely excited to foster this renewed relationship," Brindisi said. "People may say, ‘Why Clark?' I say, look at everything Clark already does in the areas of GIS, urban planning and global health. Their programs touch on everything we do or want to do in public health."

Several Clark faculty actively provided guidance throughout, O'Brien noted. They include: Marianne Sarkis, professor in the department of International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE); fellow IDCE professors Laurie Ross, Ellen Foley and Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger; John Brown, Mosakowski Distinguished Faculty Research Fellow; and Jacqueline Geoghegan, professor of Economics.

In 2013, Worcester announced its Community Health Improvement Plan, a roadmap to making Worcester "the healthiest city in New England by 2020," particularly by improving outcomes among residents in need of improved living conditions and better access to consistent, high-quality care.

Creation of the Academic Health Department marks the beginning of a new offensive to improve health outcomes for Worcester residents facing poor nutrition, untreated mental illness, violence and injury. The goal is to foster healthy behaviors that will curtail more serious illnesses later on — in effect improving lives, cutting treatment costs and preserving communities.

For more information, contact the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, at 508-421-3872 or

The mission of the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise is to improve the effectiveness of government and other institutions in addressing social concerns through the successful mobilization of use-inspired research. Learn more about use-inspired research.