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History of the Master of Health Services Administration Program

The Master's degree in Health Services Administration began in 1979 when the Kansas Legislature, recognizing a need for professional leadership in health services, appropriated $200,000 for the University of Kansas to create the program. Then Vice-Chancellor Deanell Tacha asked Professor Ray Davis to be the founding chair of the Department of Health Services Administration and to undertake development of the MHSA degree program within that Department. Davis hired two established health services researchers and national experts in the academic health services administration field, Barbara McCool and Montague Brown, as consultants for conceptualizing the program and curriculum. The program officially began in 1982 with three students and three faculty members, Mary Zimmerman, Joe Harkins, and Ray Davis. However, soon after being hired, Harkins was asked to serve as the Secretary of the Kansas State Department of Health and Environment, so while he agreed to teach a course in the new program, the program essentially began with only two regular full-time faculty members as well as a number of adjunct and part-time instructors, including Harkins, McCool, Brown and Robert McLean, a health economist from the School of Business. The Department of Health Services Administration was not organizationally located in a School but, in the initial years, reported directly to Vice-Chancellor Tacha. The program's offices were in the Watkins Home building on the Lawrence campus.

At the end of the 1980s, the KU administration required that the Department find a School in which to locate. In 1990, the Department became part the School of Pharmacy and was located on the top floor of Malott Hall. From 1982 to 1999 classes were offered in Topeka, Lawrence and Overland Park, although the Department's administrative center remained in Lawrence. In 1993, KU built the Edwards Campus in Overland Park and the Department agreed to teach the majority of its classes on the Edwards Campus. The Department remained in the School of Pharmacy and kept its administrative offices in Lawrence until 1999.
In 1999, the Department became part of the KU School of Medicine and moved its offices to the Medical Center campus in Kansas City, Kansas. At that time it also changed its name to the Department of Health Policy and Management. By 2000 all classes were offered on the Medical Center campus.

Two additional programs were added to the Department of Health Policy & Management. In 2005, the Department began the Community Health Center Executive Fellowship (CHCEF), a professional development program for mid and upper level managers of Federally Qualified Health Centers and Look-Alikes. In 2009, a Ph.D. in Health Services Research was added to the Department. As of July 1, 2019 the Department of Health Policy and Management and the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health merged to become the new Department of Population Health.

The MHSA program is strong. It has been continuously and fully accredited since 1989, at first by the Accrediting Commission on Education for Health Services Administration (ACEHSA) and then by ACEHSA's successor, the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). We are currently the only accredited MHSA program in Kansas and in the Kansas City Region. The faculty are a talented and diverse group featuring both practical experience and scholarly excellence. We are proud of our ability to provide students with real world experience and experiential learning. Like our faculty, our student body is diverse in both world view and experience. We have a strong cadre of alumni, including scores of hospital CEO's and vice-presidents.

Last modified: Oct 11, 2019
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