INDIANAPOLIS — Fairbanks School of Public Health Founding Dean Paul Halverson was recognized Monday, November 6, with one of the highest distinctions in the state of Indiana, the Sagamore of the Wabash. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the governor of Indiana and is a personal tribute given to those who have rendered distinguished service to the state.
Halverson began his career at Indiana University in 2013 as the Fairbanks School’s founding dean, a role reserved for the first dean of a newly established school. Founding deans shape the direction of the school by hiring key faculty and establishing grounding partnerships.
“Through the close partnerships with the city, county and state, and innovative approaches to the public’s greatest public health challenges, Dean Halverson has had a significant impact on public health in Indiana,” said Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, interim chancellor of IUPUI. “Dean Halverson exemplifies the spirit and dedicated record of service to the people of Indiana recognized by this impressive honor.”
In his role as founding dean, he served as a senior health advisor for the state health commissioners as well as the governor’s office, and led the Indiana Health Systems Review, which led to a role in the Governor’s Public Health Commission and increased funding for public health in Indiana. In addition, Halverson led the creation of an academic health department within the Marion County Public Health Department, led by Dr. Virginia Caine.
Halverson also co-led the Indiana Prevalence Study, a scientific study over three phases to measure the spread of COVID-19 through the state of Indiana. This study was the first and most comprehensive random sample study of its kind in the US and the world. The results of this study informed the statewide policy framework that governed the use of masks, social distancing, business capacity and predicted COVID-19 surges. It also uncovered the loss of taste and smell as symptoms of positive cases.
“Working to improve public health requires collaboration across many sectors,” said Halverson. “It is often work that is only recognized when something is going wrong. Governor Holcomb has been a valued partner in improving public health in Indiana. This award is truly an unexpected honor.”