Winter 2014 Welcome Back Message

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back! I hope that each of you had a wonderful break and enjoyed special time with friends and family. Time away from our everyday tasks can be remarkably restorative. I am confident that, as always, you return to your work and study community with renewed enthusiasm and vigor.

The start of a new year provides an ideal time to reflect on where we have been and where we are heading. As we continue to celebrate our first hundred years as an institution, we recognize the formative events that helped make HSPH the extraordinary institution that it is today. We also look forward with excitement to the future. When I began my tenure as your Dean—five years ago this month—it was my goal to build on that tremendous foundation to make HSPH the first school of public health for the 21st Century. I am extremely pleased to be able to say that we are well on our way.

Last semester, in addition to celebrating our Centennial and launching a $450 million Capital Campaign, we hosted the Second Century Symposium: Transforming Public Health Education, which was extremely well-received.  Nearly 500 people, including numerous deans of schools of public health, faculty, and thought leaders in different fields of education, engaged in powerful conversations about the future of teaching and learning in general and as it relates specifically to public health. It was also at the Symposium that we unveiled our New Educational Strategy, which, after three years of dedicated effort on the part of so many of you, will come to fruition during 2014 and the following years. Indeed, the first cohort of students in the new DrPH program is scheduled to arrive in July. This year will also see the completion of our efforts to make a version of the MPH core available through HarvardX, generating materials that will further enrich the learning experience for our residential students. And this is just the beginning of many transformative changes that, just like a century ago, will project our School as the leading institution of higher education in the field of public health. In terms of the New Educational Strategy, implementation will be the key word for 2014 and beyond.

At the same time, I plan to launch this year a comprehensive review of our research strategy, similar in scope and depth to the one we embarked on almost four years ago for education. It is my overriding priority to consolidate our position as the top research school of public health in the world. To achieve this aim, we must anticipate the many forces of change that will define the research enterprise in the decades to come—from new and exciting scientific opportunities to a changing funding landscape. I hope that you will all feel inspired to participate in this crucial exercise. Details about it will be forthcoming in the course of the next months.

To complete the circle of knowledge—the framework that integrates all dimensions of our mission—we will continue to deploy novel and rigorous approaches to policy translation. The School has a unique role to play as an open space with the intellectual stature to convene all relevant parties involved in improving health around the world, including leaders from government, civil society, industry and, of course, academia. Our faculty and researchers continue to make invaluable contributions translating research into major policy changes.  In the coming year, we can also look forward to additional stimulating webcasts from the Leadership Studio, while we continue to expand our executive education programs and the innovative fora with ministers of health and finance.

All of our excellent academic work relies on efficient management and responsible stewardship of the resources that have been entrusted to us by research funders, benefactors, and indeed by our own students through tuition. While the School’s financial position has improved, we will continue to focus on improving the efficiency of our operations and diversifying the sources of financing. In this last respect, we have built our resource development capacity to take full advantage of the unique opportunity offered by the Harvard Campaign.

In sum, 2014 starts with great promise of even greater accomplishments for our School. This semester, the Centennial celebrations will continue, including plans to embed the time capsule in its resting place in FXB, where it will remain for the next 50 years. Please check the website in the coming days for information about the upcoming placement ceremony. There will also be several academic events to continue to celebrate our first hundred years. The Centennial festivities will culminate on Commencement, which will be a very special day.

Thank you for all that you do to make Harvard School of Public Health such a thriving community.

With my best wishes for a healthy and productive New Year,

Julio Frenk, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
Dean of the Faculty, Harvard School of Public Health
T & G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development,
Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School