Two universities, one mission: Better health for all

As a child of a single mom in the military, Willow Wallace grew up poor and moved around a lot. College, she says, “wasn’t on my radar.”

Now, with help from scholarships, she is set to be among the first to graduate from the new OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. Her goal: to become a medical doctor and researcher specializing in infectious diseases.

About the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health 


Undergraduates: 1,600

Graduate students: 270

Faculty: 150

Degrees: 16


Top 3 Undergraduate Programs

  • Health Studies: Health Sciences
  • Health Studies: Community Health Education
  • Applied Health & Fitness

Top 3 Graduate Programs

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Management & Policy

“As a kid who came up in poverty, I saw a lot of the burden disease places on families,” Wallace says. “Now I’m learning it’s such a complex topic. So many other factors go into disease and disease prevention.”

Portland State University and Oregon Health & Science University joined forces to create Portland’s first school of public health with a shared vision of educating the next generation of public health leaders and ending health disparities in Oregon and around the globe. 

The school now has a founding dean, Dr. David Bangsberg, and a new permanent home in a $100 million health and education center expected to open on Southwest Fourth Avenue and Montgomery Street in September 2020. 

OHSU is a nationally prominent research university and Oregon's only public academic health center. PSU is a national model for community engagement and academic innovation. Together, the two universities offer unmatched opportunity for students to learn in the classroom and in real-world settings.

Graduates earn a degree endorsed by both universities and go on to careers in rapidly growing fields such as medicine, research, education, fitness, nutrition and policy.

Willow is the type of student leaders had in mind when planning the collaboration, Bangsberg says. One of the goals of the School of Public Health is to educate underrepresented and marginalized students so they can return to improve lives in the communities they came from.

“Being a great doctor requires deep empathy for and understanding of suffering,” he says. “Being a great leader requires patient and steady tenacity in a difficult and complex situation. Willow has these traits in spades.”

Photo: Willow Wallace works in a lab at the Collaborative Life Sciences Building.