CHHS Public Health Program Coordinator Says He Will Never Fully Retire from the Public Health Field

CHHS Public Health Program Coordinator Says He Will Never Fully Retire from the Public Health Field

During his five years at CHHS, Public Health Professor and Program Coordinator Randy Cottrell transformed the Public Health Program through its accreditation by the Council for Education and Public Health, the addition of new concentrations like gerontology and global health and the hiring of outstanding new staff members.

Randy, a native of Ohio, was a first-generation college graduate, who had planned on being an accountant. Because of his love for physical activity and sports, Randy pursued physical education instead.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green University, he taught health education to sex and drug offenders at a state mental hospital. He then taught physical education and health at a community college for five years. While working on his master’s degree at Bowling Green, he felt the bug for public health.

“I still like physical education,” Randy said, “but health is much broader than just the physical activity.”

Randy received his doctorate in health education from Pennsylvania State University in 1982. He moved to Oregon and spent 30 years working for the University of Cincinnati. During this time, he conducted research and published over 70 articles in areas such as worksite health promotion, coordinated school health, program evaluation and professional development. He has authored and co-authored eight textbooks in the areas of stress management, weight control, foundations of health education and research methods.

During Randy’s time at CHHS, the Public Health Program has expanded from 110 to 240 students. He taught courses in health planning, research methods, global health, and human sexuality and aging. He has enjoyed developing new curriculums and seeing the positive growth in the students and program as a result.

“Public health is looking at the entire public,” Randy said. “Not just in the U.S., but around the globe. We can no longer isolate ourselves when there is an outbreak of a disease.”

By teaching the global health courses, he has been able to address topics like international diseases and the media’s influence on public perception, which has a large-scale impact around the globe.

Randy is an avid traveler and has taught in many states and countries. In 2011, he was named a Fulbright Scholar and spent six months teaching and conducting research at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. He has also traveled to Ireland and Brazil to speak on issues of public health. Last year, he led a group of UNCW students to University of Swansea in Wales for six months. The experience was a highlight of his time here at CHHS.

Upon retirement, Randy plans to move back to his home state of Ohio. He is a member of the Society of Public Health Education’s Board of Trustees and the Foundation for the Advancement of Health Education and will continue his involvement with the two groups. He has also accepted the role as a chair of a task force that will reevaluate the competencies and sub-competencies of a health education specialist. After that, he will begin a 12-month research program.

Despite his official retirement from CHHS, Randy will never fully retire from public health. He has poured his heart and soul into the field and will stay connected for more years to come.

Randy’s advice to individuals aspiring to be in the public health profession is “definitely do it. It is a great field. Particularly, if you have a place in your heart to help people who are underserved or have little access to help. It isn’t a field where you will get very wealthy, but you will have a lot of personal satisfaction from the work that you do.”

“UNCW is a fabulous institution,” Randy said. “I have been happy to be a part of it for the last five years, and I will continue to watch it grow and develop.”