Department History

 The Department of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE) at the University of Michigan School of Public Health (U-M SPH) has played an important part in the history of the school and the field of health behavior and health education.  Please read on to learn more about the impact of our faculty and research, dating back to the founding of the school in 1941.  

Irwin “Rusty” Rosenstock

Mabel Rugen

Scott Simonds

Marshall Becker

Sherman James

Noreen Clark



  • 1941The U-M regents establish a School of Public Health, including a program in Health Education within the Department of Public Health Practice.  Mabel Rugen is among the first SPH faculty assembled by Dean Henry Vaughan to teach in the area of health education, which would eventually become the HBHE program. 
  • 1971HBHE professor Scott Simonds is appointed as a member of the President Nixon's Committee on Health Education.  The Committee's report in 1973 resulted in an infusion of funding in to the field of HBHE.   
  • 1972HBHE professor Marshall Becker pioneers a study using the Health Belief Model to understand how patients' beliefs affect their willingness to follow medical regimens and providing practical guidelines for physicians to follow when transmitting medical information to patients.   
  • 1975The Department of Health Behavior & Health Education is established.  The Masters program is extended from one to two years, and the PhD program is approved.  At this time there are 48 students enrolled in the Department, more than double the enrollment before this time.   
  • 1976HBHE professor Irwin "Rusty" Rosenstock leads a statewide work group on health education whose recommendations inform the first state of Michigan Public Health Code. 
  • 1990The dual degree program is established between HBHE and the School of Social Work (MPH/MSW) providing students with a skill-based education focused on the many intersections of health and social work.   
  • 1992HBHE professor Arline Geronimus originates an analytical framework called "weathering" that posits that the health of African Americans is subject to early health deterioration as a consequence of social exclusion.   
  • 1994SPH consolidates into 5 Departments, resulting in the integration of many faculty from Population Planning & International Health and Public Health Planning & Administration into HBHE.  This leads to growth in the enrollment and research in the Department.   
  • 1995HBHE professor and Chair Noreen M. Clark is selected as the Dean of SPH and serves from 1995-2005.   
  • 1995HBHE professor Victor Strecher founds the Center for Health Communications Research, a multidisciplinary initiative aimed at creating and implementing more effective health interventions.  Future directors include HBHE professor Ken Resnicow.       
  • 1995HBHE professor Barbara Israel founds the Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center, originally funded through a Cooperative Agreement with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention through their Urban Research Centers Initiative.    
  • 1998HBHE professor Sherman James founds the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health, which moved the field to focus on ethnicity and health disparities more profoundly.  Future directors include HBHE professors Harold "Woody" Neighbors and Cleopatra Howard Caldwell.     
  • 1998HBHE professor Marc Zimmerman founds the Prevention Research Center to promote safe and healthy futures through prevention research. 
  • 2000HBHE professor Noreen Clark is elected to the Institute of Medicine.   
  • 2005HBHE professors Barbara Israel, Amy Schulz & Edith Parker co-author the widely used "Methods in Community-Based Participatory Research for Health" textbook.  This book shows how researchers, practitioners, and community partners can work together to establish and maintain equitable partnerships using a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach. 
  • 2005HBHE professor Noreen Clark founds the Center for Managing Chronic Disease to broaden our understanding and widening the societal lens regarding the problem of chronic disease.  Future directors include HBHE professor John Piette.     
  • 2005HBHE professor Noreen Clark is named the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor of Public Health.   
  • 2006HBHE professor Noreen Clark is named the Myron E. Wegman Distinguished University Professor of Public Health.   
  • 2006With the opening of the newly constructed SPH Crossroads and Tower complex, HBHE centers and programs move to the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Henry Vaughan (SPH I) building.   
  • 2008The dual degree program is established between HBHE and the Genetic Counseling Program (MPH/MS) providing students with an innovative learning experience that includes academic training, research skill development, and clinical instruction addressing issues that occur at the intersection of the two fields.  HBHE professor Scott Roberts serves as the program Co-Director.   
  • 2009HBHE professor Neal Krause is named the Marshall Becker Collegiate Professor of Public Health in recognition of his work on health gerontology and religious coping. 
  • 2009HBHE professor José Bauermeister founds the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities dedicated to the improvement of physical and mental health among oppressed and marginalized populations, both globally and locally.   
  • 2010HBHE professor Marc Zimmerman founds the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center, one of six National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention funded by the CDC.  
  • 2012HBHE professor Ken Resnicow is named the Irwin Rosenstock Collegiate Professor of Public Health in recognition of his work on health communications and motivational interviewing. 
  • 2012HBHE professors Rebecca Cunningham and Marc Zimmerman provide leadership in the founding of the Injury Center, one of nine Injury Control Research Centers funded by the CDC.   
  • 2015HBHE professor Gary Harper served as the Director for Undergraduate Education as SPH launched its first undergraduate program in public health.   
  • 2017HBHE professor Marc Zimmerman is named the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor of Public Health in honor of his work in the area of adolescent health and resiliency.   

Interesting Facts & Figures

  • Since 1975, over 1,407 students have graduated from the HBHE MPH program.
  • Since 1975, over 102 student have graduated from the HBHE doctoral program.
  • Since 2002, HBHE faculty and research centers have been awarded over $202 million in research funding

Leadership Roles & Awards

Years Faculty member Role
2017-present Cleo Caldwell Department Chair
2015-present Gary Harper Director for Undergraduate Education
2014-2016 Cathleen Connell Department Chair
2012-present Vic Strecher Director, Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship
2010-14 Nancy Janz Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
2004-13 Marc Zimmerman Department Chair
2005-10 Edith Parker Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
1995-2005 Noreen Clark Dean
2001-04 Cathleen Connell Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
1999-2003 Sherman James Department Chair
1995-99 Barbara Israel Department Chair
1987-95 Noreen Clark Department Chair
1987-93 Marshall Becker Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
1983-87 Marshall Becker Department Chair
1975-83 Irwin "Rusty" Rosenstock Department Chair

Year Center Name Leaders
1995 Center for Health Communications Research Vic Strecher; Ken Resnicow
1995 Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center Barbara Israel
1998 Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture & Health Sherman James; Woody Neighbors; Cleo Caldwell
1998 Prevention Research Center Marc Zimmerman
2005 Center for Managing Chronic Disease Noreen Clark; John Piette
2009 Center for Sexuality & Health Disparities Jose Bauermeister
2010 Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center Marc Zimmerman
2012 Injury Center Jean Shope, Rebecca Cunningham, Marc Zimmerman

Year Awardee Category
2016 Amy Schulz Excellence in Research
2013  Arline Geronimus Excellence in Research
2009 Ken Resnicow Excellence in Research
2005 Marc Zimmerman Excellence in Research
1996 Neal Krause Excellence in Research
2016  Elizabeth Mosley  Outstanding GSI Award
2015 Jose Bauermeister Excellence in Teaching
2015 Emily Youatt Outstanding GSI Award
2007 Barbara Israel Excellence in Teaching
2015 Laura Jadwin-Cakmak Excellence in Diversity
2015 Sharon Sand Excellence in Staff Service
2014 Lara Thomas Excellence in Staff Service
2014 Lynda Fuerstnau Excellence in Diversity
2013 Amy Schulz Excellence in Diversity
2011 Susan Franzen Excellence in Staff Service
2010 Barbara Israel Excellence in Diversity
2008 Everett Roberts Excellence in Staff Service
2007 Woody Neighbors Excellence in Diversity
2006 Shirley Hatto Excellence in Staff Service
2006 Cleo Caldwell Excellence in Diversity
2005 Susan Morrel-Samuels Excellence in Staff Service
2003 Jackie Cormany Excellence in Staff Service

Year Name Award
2010 Victor Strecher The 4th University of Michigan Distinguished University Innovator, recognizing faculty for the development of innovative technologies and the demonstration of their transformational potential.
2014 Cathleen Connell The Academic Women's Caucus selection committee presented the Rhetaugh G. Dumas Progress in Diversifying Award to the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education in the School of Public Health.  Dr. Connell accepted the award on behalf of the department. 
2014 Brian Zikmund-Fisher The Henry Russel Award, one of the highest honors the University bestows upon junior faculty, is conferred to faculty members who have demonstrated an extraordinary record of accomplishment in scholarly research and/or creativity, as well as an excellent record of contributions as a teacher.