$10 million anonymous gift to Harvard’s Public Health School supports scholarships, doctoral-level public health leadership training

Harvard Chan School courtyard

For immediate release: September 12, 2016

Boston, MA – A $10 million gift to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health from an anonymous donor was announced today to support financial aid for students in the School’s Nutrition and Occupational Health Sciences programs, and to provide significant program support for the School’s Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Program.

The anonymous donor, who has now made gifts to the School totaling more than $17 million, says the purpose of the new gift is to inspire the spirit of Prajna, a Sanskrit word that conveys ultimate wisdom – wisdom that cannot be reached by developing intellect alone, but entails insight from experience and understanding through the engagement with all that surrounds us.

The donor hopes the gift will further inspire the School’s community to integrate discovery research and practice to compassionately advance the welfare of humanity.

To achieve that goal, $7 million of the gift is designated to fund the Doctor of Public Health program, which the School’s new Dean Michelle A. Williams called “one of the School’s signature endeavors to provide vital leadership and management training, as well as public health expertise to extraordinary students.”

According to Dean Williams, “The DrPH program draws a small group of extremely accomplished students each year who will graduate ready to have an immediate and sizeable impact on public health globally. Long-term, we anticipate our DrPH students will become the next generation of health ministers, executive directors of nongovernmental organizations, and leaders of major hospitals and health care organizations around the globe. I am exceedingly grateful for this gift to help enhance and sustain this vital program and its accomplished students.”

The funds for the Doctor of Public Health program will provide:

  • A $5 million endowment to establish the Julio Frenk Professorship of Public Health Leadership. Named in honor of Julio Frenk, who served as Dean of the Harvard Chan School between 2009-2015, the professorship will provide enduring leadership for the DrPH program. “When I reflect upon my time at the Harvard Chan School, the establishment of the Doctor of Public Health program stands out as one of the most important accomplishments of my tenure,” said Frenk, who is now President of the University of Miami. “I am extraordinarily honored that the donor was inspired to establish a professorship in my name for the leader of this very important doctoral degree program.”
  • $1 million in current use funds will support the ongoing growth and competitiveness of the Doctor of Public Health Program.
  • $1 million in endowed funds will provide scholarships to Doctor of Public Health Program students. The three-year doctoral program includes a full year in which students work on individualized projects in the field to address complex problems of public health policy and use advanced analytical and managerial tools to lead organizational and societal change. Recipients of scholarship aid resulting from this gift will be called Prajna Leadership Fellows.

An additional $3 million being given by the donor will provide:

  • $1.25 million in endowed and current use funds for scholarships in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Residency Program at the School, which is a two-year training program for physicians leading to board-eligibility in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, one of the three specialties of Preventive Medicine. Recipients of scholarships from this program will be called Prajna Fellows of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
  • $1.75 million in endowed and current use funds to support doctoral candidates in the School’s Department of Nutrition. This is to double the endowment established for the Prajna Chair’s Scholarship in Public Health Nutrition to honor Dr. Walter Willett. Recipients of scholarship aid from this endowed and current use fund will be called Prajna Chair’s Scholars.

“Scholarship aid is one of my top priorities for our School,” said Dean Williams. “We have been working particularly hard over the past five years to improve scholarship aid. It is vital that talented students are able to pursue their passion for improving people’s health in whatever arena they choose. This generous gift will enable more students to achieve that goal by minimizing the debt they may incur for graduate-level study.”

For more information:

Todd Datz

photo: Craig LaPlante


Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.