Dean’s message: The multiplying effect

[ Winter 2011]

“Philanthropy” comes to us from the ancient Greek word “philanthropos,” which means “loving humankind.”

Loving humankind. As flowery as that may sound today, it is the animating mission of the Harvard School of Public Health. All the work we do—from research to education to policy translation—has that value at its core.

And as the School has shown, philanthropy has a proven multiplicative effect. It is an investment that pays off again and again—in the lives and dreams of individuals, in the aspirations and well-being of societies.

Those who have donated their time and their treasure to furthering the School’s mission help fund the training of 500 new graduates who go out into the world each spring, fueled by passion and knowledge, to make a difference.

Their donations finance early stages of research on an innovative idea, ultimately building a priceless scientific base.

Their gifts enable the facts about “what works” in public health to find their way to key decision makers.

Philanthropy’s multiplying effect can be seen at the highest echelons of global and national health policy. Six of the last 10 directors of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are HSPH alums. So is Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former prime minister of Norway, who served as director-general of the World Health Organization from 1998 to 2003. So is Suraya Dalil, acting minister of public health in Afghanistan. So are countless others occupying influential positions in government, civil society, global organizations, and business.

The scientific insights sown at the School take root around the world. Whether it be the designated driver program, limiting trans fats in food, developing better treatment programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of AIDS, or analyzing the effects of health reforms around the world, research at the School is saving lives and improving the health of millions.

Over the centuries, philanthropy has taken different forms. What began as charity is now seen as a practical means to create a better life. Today’s idea of civic investment—in which enlightened citizens invest in a worthy social cause—is one that I especially like. The returns are almost incalculable: the greater good of humankind.

I would like to thank all those who have given to the School for your philanthropy and for your investment in the health of the world. Together with our students, faculty, and staff, you are truly contributing to that greater good.

— Julio Frenk is Dean of the Faculty and T & G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development, Harvard School of Public Health