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School of Public Health Receives $12.5 Million Gift

By Matthew Q. Clarida, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard School of Public Health has received a gift of $12.5 million which will support a significant revamping of the school’s curriculum, the school announced Monday.

The gift comes from the Charina Endowment Fund and two of the fund’s directors, Richard L. Menschel and Ronay Menschel. The money will go towards the establishment of the Transforming Public Health Education Initiative Fund, which will aim to support new degrees and a general reworking and modernizing of the school’s curriculum, the School of Public Health said in a release.

“This facilitates and energizes our faculty and our school,” said Ian Lapp, associate dean for strategic educational initiatives at the School of Public Health. “This level of support is a strong endorsement of the school’s educational strategy.”

That strategy, Lapp said, was revamped three years ago, when the School launched a three-year plan “to assess and strategically revise” its curriculum in anticipation of its centennial, which is this fall.

Since the launch of the plan, called the ‘Roadmap to 2013,’ the School of Public Health has brought in about $18 million in support, said Lapp. In addition to the Charina gift of $12.5 million, the school has received gifts of $5 million from an anonymous donor to fund a new doctorate of public health degree, and $500,000 from the Medtronic Foundation in support of general curricular reworking, according to Lapp and the press release.

In addition to the new doctorate of public health—which has been approved by the School of Public Health and is set to launch in 2014—the recent outpouring of support has enabled the school to develop a Ph.D. in population health sciences. If approved by the School’s faculty and GSAS, the new program will be offered as early as 2016, according to Lapp. Additionally, the new gift will fund an enhanced curriculum for the master’s of public health degree, beginning in 2015.

“It’s very exciting because it allows the school to move really far ahead in the curriculum change business,” said Robert J. Blendon, senior associate dean and director of the division policy translation and leadership development, of the new gift.

Blendon, who is also a professor of public health in a position endowed by the Menschel family, noted that the gift would allow the school to introduce more case-based learning into its curriculum and to continue its movement into online education. Four of the courses currently offered on HarvardX, the Harvard subsect of the online learning platform edX, are from the School of Public Health, according to the platform’s website.

“This has been a clear strategic vision of our dean and myself and others to be in on the MOOC [massive open online courses],” said Lapp.

“This [support] is because [of the vision of] the Deans and the faculty [of the School of Public Health],” Lapp said. “This is an unprecedented gift and truly unprecedented funding for a school of public health.”

—Staff writer Fatima Mirza contributed to the reporting of this article.

—Staff writer Matthew Q. Clarida can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MattClarida.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction and clarification:

CORRECTION: Sept. 18, 2013

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Harvard School of Public Health’s new doctorate of public health degree has been approved by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

CLARIFICATION: Sept. 18, 2013

An earlier version of this article described a new degree program at Harvard School of Public Health as a doctorate of population studies. To clarify, the program is a Ph.D. in population health sciences.

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