School of Public Health Renamed with $350 Million Gift, Largest in Harvard History

Julio Frenk, the dean of the School of Public Health, said last week that the money from Morningside will touch all areas of the school’s operations. He focused on four particular threats to public health, including pandemics like Ebola, environmental concerns such as pollution, humanitarian issues like poverty and collateral damage from war and violence, and inefficient systems of healthcare.

“[The Chan family’s] generosity will ensure we have the resources to continue to develop the most innovative solutions that will enable millions of people to live longer and healthier lives, now and in the future,” Frenk said.

Frenk said that the money will also fund the school’s continuing commitments to student accessibility and faculty development. He added that the school is considering introducing a series of research awards and grants, as well as new funding for non-tenured faculty to take sabbatical semesters, new support for big data computing and management, and a student loan forgiveness program.

“Student debt is my number one priority, as it has always been,” Frenk said.

University officials told The Crimson last week that, for a smaller institution like the School of Public Health, the Chan gift has the power to alter the school’s trajectory. The School of Public Health, which often sends graduates into less lucrative careers than some other Harvard schools, has traditionally had difficulty matching the fundraising clout of the College, Law School, and Business School. The school draws significantly from federal and non-federal sponsorship—sources that fluctuate and are often referred to as ‘soft money’—which together made up 70 percent of its budget in fiscal year 2013.


“We are very grateful that this school, with its strong public service mission, is going to have this kind of funding and support,” University President Drew G. Faust said in an interview. “The School of Public Health is so dependent on federal funding and soft money for such a substantial portion of its operating budget. It’s great to have some solid foundation apart from those soft money resources that we can depend on.”

Last year, the School of Public Health set a goal of $450 million for its portion of the Harvard Campaign at a ceremony also celebrating the school’s centennial. Frenk would not say if he plans to adjust the $450 million target, but he did commit to continuing the school’s fundraising campaign for the next four years.

—Check for updates.

—Staff Writers Amna H. Hashmi and Christine Y. Cahill contributed to the reporting of this story

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


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