Fall 2013 Welcome Back Message
Dear Members of the HSPH Community,
I hope you all had an enjoyable summer. It is my pleasure to welcome you to a very special year at Harvard School of Public Health. This fall marks the 100th anniversary of the launching of the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers, which is now the Harvard School of Public Health. In this, our centennial year, it is important to both celebrate our past – and look to our future. As you can perhaps imagine, our first class of students in 1913 was not nearly as large or diverse as the group of new students who arrived on campus last week. That first class had just 8 students – all men, all from the United States. This year we have 515 incoming students (joining 480 continuing students), 61 percent of whom are women. One third of our exceptionally talented students come from outside the US, representing 52 different countries. US citizens and permanent residents come from 40 states, and 43 percent of them consider themselves members of a minority. This diversity is a source of strength for our School, and I remain committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive community at HSPH.
To prepare for the School’s future, this fall we will formally announce an extensive capital fundraising campaign at HSPH, which will be part of a larger effort involving the entire University. This year we will also begin rolling out key components of a new educational strategy, which is the outcome of three years of intensive innovative collaboration by faculty and students.
I would like to take just a few moments of your time to provide you with a few additional details on these upcoming initiatives.
HSPH Centennial Celebration
The faculty at HSPH has pioneered the field of public health education since the School first began as the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers in September 1913. Over the past century we have been constantly innovating, evolving, and implementing changes in response to new knowledge and ideas.
To design a celebration befitting our remarkable history, the Centennial Committee — led by Dr. Joseph Brain and comprised of faculty, staff, academic appointees, and students — has developed a number of exciting projects which will reflect on that history. Our Office of External Relations has also developed a number of activities to commemorate this major milestone. The centerpiece of our fall Centennial festivities with occur during a two-week period in late October and early November and will include a special celebration at the School on October 25 to which the entire HSPH community is invited. In addition, we will host a groundbreaking symposium on November 1focused on innovations in education. Overall, we can look forward to the more than 40 targeted Centennial events that have been planned to date throughout the year. For more information about upcoming events — and to learn fascinating details about our shared history — please visit the newly launched Centennial website (www.hsph.harvard.edu/centennial)
Harvard University will formally embark on an ambitious capital fundraising campaign this fall. While the goals for the University’s campaign and for HSPH’s segment of that campaign have not been announced yet, I can assure you that this will be the largest fundraising effort in the School’s – and the University’s – history.
September 21 marks the official start of the public phase of the University-wide campaign, with HSPH launching our own effort on October 24-25 in conjunction with the Centennial festivities. Throughout that two-day period, we will hold a series of events for faculty, staff, students, and donors alike. The following weekend, November 1-4, we will hold Centennial and campaign celebrations geared specifically to our alumni.
The Campaign will focus on supporting the people, ideas, and infrastructure needed to address four major threats to global health: old and new pandemics; harmful physical and social environments; poverty and humanitarian crises; and failing health systems. By raising money through the Campaign to support our faculty and students who are dedicating their careers to work in each of these areas, we can develop tools to eradicate diseases; prevent pollution and promote healthier communities; advance health as a human right; and ultimately lead change and educate the future leaders in public health.
For HSPH, this multi-year effort will build upon the activities we have put in place over the last several years to better support the School and its mission by growing our fundraising and external relations activities. These activities have already borne significant returns. In FY2013, for example, efforts by our faculty and our Office of External Relations raised $63.3 million from individuals, corporations, foundations, and organizations—up from $26.4 million in FY2010. The percentage of alumni contributing to the School has nearly doubled in the past four years, from approximately 7 percent in 2009, to almost 14 percent in the last two years.
We look forward to providing more information about the Campaign in the weeks and months ahead.
Roadmap/Second Century Symposium
As I mentioned in my previous letters to you, the sign of strength in an organization like HSPH is our ability to build on existing excellence and to be constantly improving and re-envisioning how we can do even better what we already do very well. In 2010, the faculty at HSPH embarked on a process of re-examining how and what we teach students. As most of you know, we named this effort the “Roadmap to 2013,” with the goal of determining how the School can build on its significant strengths and develop new capabilities to educate more effectively the public health leaders for the 21st century.
Last year, our faculty voted unanimously in favor of three important efforts: (1) to create a new professional leadership degree, the DrPH, set to launch in summer 2014; (2) to re-shape our master’s degree programs to address the differing types of career goals our students have; and (3) to begin the academic planning process to create a potential new leadership PhD program in Population Health Sciences for those pursuing academic careers.
As both a centerpiece of our Centennial celebration this fall and as an opportunity to engage the field in spirited discussion of the future, we look forward to hosting The Second Century Symposium: Transforming Public Health Education, to be held on Friday, November 1 at the Martin Center at Harvard Medical School. I hope that you will join President Drew G. Faust, Provost Alan M. Garber, MIT’s Provost Chris A. Kaiser, and me for this exciting day. The Symposium will showcase our School’s new educational strategy and convene the field in a conversation about needed changes to public health education. Panels include distinguished thought leaders from HSPH and across Harvard, deans and faculty from other schools of public health, and leaders in public health practice. Please visit the Symposium website (http://hsph.harvard.edu/second-century-symposium) to learn more and to register.
As Mike Kan reported to the community last spring, after four years of declining fiscal performance, the School improved its overall financial position for the second year in a row, with the deficit in its management result declining from $12.0 million in FY2011 to $7.6 million in FY2012 to $1.7 million this past year. While we expect expenditures for one-time deferred maintenance on our facilities to impact our results this year, we believe that we can achieve break even, or perhaps a slight surplus, as early as next year. That said, achieving these results may require difficult trade-offs as well as an openness to change from all of us in the ways in which we carry out our everyday tasks. In addition, it is important to reiterate that our fiscal environment is still uncertain, and we remain concerned about the impact that sequestration, a diminished grant pipeline, and our upcoming federal indirect cost negotiations might have on the School’s fiscal performance. We will continue to keep you posted on our progress in this area as events develop.
I look forward to speaking with you all in greater depth about these important initiatives at our Town Hall on Tuesday, September 10from 4:00 – 5:00 pm in the Kresge Cafeteria. In the meantime, I encourage you to think creatively about the many ways in which you contribute to our mission. As we embark on this celebratory year, I remain inspired not only by those who have come before us and by the life-changing discoveries and policies that they have established over the past century, but also by each of the innovative, creative, and passionate leaders that make up the School today. I look forward to the ongoing opportunity of working together as we develop powerful ideas for a healthier world.
Dean of the Faculty