Dr. Michael Deichen, director of UCF’s Student Health Services, will play a big role in how universities nationwide prepare and respond to epidemics and other health emergencies during the next two years.

Deichen recently was named chair-elect of the American College of Health Association Emerging Public Health Threats and Emergency Response Coalition. The 383-member coalition focuses on the increasing concern posed by pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases, helps plan for them and acts as a key communicator between the federal government and universities in responding to threats.

Deichen will be the key liaison between the coalition and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on many national health-related matters that impact college students and the landscape of higher education. He has vast experience preparing for potential risks at the second largest university in the nation. During his 14 years at UCF he’s helped prepare the campus for everything from MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and pandemic flu to measles and Ebola.

He also has been instrumental in bringing new health-related programs to students. For example, he was the founder of UCF’s Type 1 Diabetes Support Group.

“My role on the ACHA coalition will best position me to protect UCF students from emerging public health threats and help other universities with their emergency preparation and response,” Deichen said. “While these are situations we hope to never face, we can mitigate risk by being prepared, having key partners in place, and learning from each other’s experiences.”

The coalition is part of the American College Health Association. The organization, with more than 800 institutional members, has been linking university health professionals nationwide since 1920 and provides policy, guidance and support for universities with health-service centers on their campuses.

“The coalition serves the needs of college health professionals by sharing the latest information about current public-health threats, and helping college campuses to prepare for and develop response plans for outbreaks and other disruptions in campus life,” said Craig Roberts, departing chair of the coalition and medical staff member at University Health Services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison . “In the big picture, we are part of an organization focused on keeping college students healthy, engaged and successful in their academic careers.”

Deichen is a practicing family medicine doctor and has a master’s degree in public health. He serves as the vice president of the Southern College Health Association, which is the regional group of the national organization.