The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health announced a gift of $5.5 million from Jonathan Lavine, MBA ’92, and Jeannie Lavine, AB ’88, MBA ’92, to establish the Lavine Family Professorship of Humanitarian Studies. The professorship will promote the study of a range of humanitarian issues, including the intersection of humanitarian relief, disaster preparedness, and public health.
This gift builds upon the Lavines’ prior investments in Harvard’s humanitarian work. In 2011, they contributed $5 million to the School, establishing the Lavine Family Humanitarian Studies Initiative, which helped to expand the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and support the training and education of humanitarian relief workers at the Humanitarian Academy.
The Lavine Family Professorship is the first professorship in the history of Harvard that is specifically dedicated to humanitarian studies and public health, and one of just a handful of similar professorships in this field worldwide. It is unique in its association with a humanitarian academy and a university-level academic concentration aimed at improving professionalism and efficacy in humanitarian field work and crisis response.
“The Lavines share the conviction that we must address the human side of humanitarian relief—by equipping future humanitarian leaders to translate the most up-to-date evidence into fieldwork to ensure that humanitarian efforts are efficient, effective, and have a lasting impact on the lives of people in conflict and crisis.”
— Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH Lavine Family Professor of Humanitarian Studies and Director, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
The first incumbent of the Lavine Family Professorship is Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH. VanRooyen is director of HHI, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a professor at the Harvard Chan School and Harvard Medical School. He has served as an emergency physician and health specialist in over 30 countries affected by war and disaster, including Bosnia, Chad, Darfur-Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, North Korea, Rwanda, and Somalia. He has worked in the field as a relief expert with several nongovernmental organizations, including CARE, International Medical Corps, Oxfam, Physicians for Human Rights, Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, and Save the Children. VanRooyen has been a policy adviser to several organizations, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and World Health Organization, and serves on the board of overseers of the International Rescue Committee.
In 2012, VanRooyen founded the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard. The only program of its kind at a major research university, the Humanitarian Academy is dedicated to creating a professional pathway for humanitarian leaders by educating current and future generations of leaders in the field.
The Lavines are active members of the Harvard Chan Board of Dean’s Advisors and have served as co-chairs of the Campaign for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health since 2013.
“Improving the quality and effectiveness of humanitarian work is a major focus of our philanthropic efforts, because having well-trained professionals on the ground can mean the difference between helping people when they need it most and making an unfolding crisis even worse,” says Jonathan Lavine, who serves as Co-Managing Partner of Bain Capital. “Supporting strong leadership at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard is a great way to ensure this important work continues.”
Says VanRooyen, “I am deeply grateful to Jonathan and Jeannie for their support and confidence over the years. The Lavines share the conviction that we must address the human side of humanitarian relief—by equipping future humanitarian leaders to translate the most up-to-date evidence into fieldwork to ensure that humanitarian efforts are efficient, effective, and have a lasting impact on the lives of people in conflict and crisis. Jonathan and Jeannie’s commitment to establishing a permanent legacy of humanitarian leadership at Harvard is a transformative investment for the field and an inspiration to all of us at HHI.”
“This gift is a wonderful example of Jonathan and Jeannie’s visionary philanthropy and inspirational leadership,” says Dean Michelle A. Williams, ScD ’91. “In addition to contributing more than $10 million to support the School’s humanitarian work, they have helped the School develop vital relationships with leaders in business and philanthropy, and they have been a constant source of wise counsel to me and to my predecessors Dean Julio Frenk and Acting Dean David Hunter.”
With this gift, the Campaign has surpassed its initial goal of $450 million, over and above the naming gift of $350 million from the Morningside Foundation of Gerald Chan, SM ’75, SD ’79, and Ronnie Chan.