Harvard University Receives Transformational Gift for the School of Public Health

School will be renamed in honor of the late T.H. Chan

For immediate release: Monday, September 8, 2014

Boston, MA – Harvard University announced today that The Morningside Foundation, established by the family of the late Mr. T. H. Chan, has pledged $350M to support the School of Public Health (HSPH) which last year began its second century of research and teaching with a campaign to address four global threats: pandemics, harmful physical and social environments, humanitarian crises, and failing health systems.

A formal announcement is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Monday, September 8 at HSPH. [Update: Watch a recording of the event.]

The gift of endowed funds is being made by The Morningside Foundation. The foundation has long supported higher education through student scholarships and professorships at universities in both North America and Asia, including a professorship in radiobiology at HSPH in 2012.

“The field of public health drives discoveries that lead to healthier, longer, more productive lives.  This extraordinary gift from the Chan family will enable Harvard’s School of Public Health to tackle intractable health problems and to translate rigorous research into action and policy worldwide,” said Harvard University president Drew Faust. “The Chan family’s generosity sends a signal to the world: this is the public health moment. We are honored by this gift; it will inspire a new generation of public health leaders.”

“The Chan family’s transformational gift will help us empower current and new generations of talented and diverse students and faculty to address the complex health threats challenging the US and the world,” said HSPH Dean Julio Frenk. “Their commitment to education and their belief in the power of public health is an inspiration, and their generosity will ensure we have the resources to continue to develop the most innovative solutions that will enable millions of people to live longer and healthier lives, now and in the future.”

According to Frenk, the gift will support students and faculty whose works are dedicated to slowing and reversing four global health threats:

  • Old and new pandemics ranging from malaria to Ebola to obesity and cancer;
  • Harmful physical and social environments ranging from air and water pollution to the impact of gun violence and tobacco;
  • Poverty and humanitarian crises, including war and natural disasters;
  • Failing health systems around the globe, which make healthcare unaffordable, inefficient, and inaccessible to many.

“The Chan family is deeply committed to the promotion of public health,” said Chan family trustee Mr. Peter S.A. Edwards. “The family and its trustees are delighted to contribute to so distinguished a university as Harvard to create this permanent public benefit as a memorial to the late Mr. T. H. Chan.”

“On behalf of my mother and my brothers, I want to express how pleased we are that the legacy of our late father can be honored by this gift to HSPH. He was a generous man who was a staunch supporter of education. He also wanted to support scientific research to alleviate human suffering. He would be very pleased with this gift today and all the good works that this gift will enable,” said Harvard School of Public Health alumnus Dr. Gerald Chan, SM 75, SD 79, a spokesperson for The Morningside Foundation.

Dr. Chan earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from HSPH in the 1970s. While he was a student there, his father visited the school. It is fitting that a gift from the family’s foundation be given to HSPH in honor of Mr. T.H. Chan. In recognition of the gift, the school will be renamed the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Established in 1913, Harvard School of Public Health enters its second century with a long history of accomplishments by faculty and alumni, including the invention of the iron lung to treat polio; key discoveries that led to the creation of the polio vaccine; strategies that enabled elimination of smallpox and are now leading to the elimination of guinea worm disease; creation of the Designated Driver Campaign in the US; research that inspired stricter Clean Air Act regulations saving millions of lives; development of checklists that made surgery safer worldwide; and research that linked trans fats to heart disease, including subsequent successful efforts to remove most trans fats from the food supply. The School has more than 400 faculty members and teaches 1,000-plus full-time students from more than 60 countries and 39 US states and Washington D.C.

The Campaign for Harvard School of Public Health was launched in 2013 as part of The Harvard Campaign. The Chan gift represents the largest single donation in Harvard’s 378-year history.

For more information:

Harvard School of Public Health Facts
President Drew Gilpin Faust’s Campaign Vision
President Drew Gilpin Faust biography
President Drew Gilpin Faust Headshot
Dean Julio Frenk biography
Dean Julio Frenk headshot