On Monday, Harvard announced the largest gift in its history, $350 million to the School of Public Health from the Morningside Foundation, a Hong Kong group run by two Hong Kong brothers, Ronnie and Gerald Chan. The school will be renamed for T. H. Chan, the brothers’ father. (Gerald Chan earned degrees from the School of Public Health in the 1970s – a master’s in medical radiological physics and a doctorate in radiation biology.)
This will be the seventh largest donation ever made to an American institution of higher education.
According to Harvard officials, this gift will be used in the following four areas: pandemics (like cancer and obesity); failing health systems; poverty and humanitarian crises; and harmful environments (like pollution or violence). The Ebola outbreak, for example, would hit three of four areas – it’s a pandemic that relates to poverty and highlights a significant health system problem.
Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, says that the gift will give students more financial aid and enable the school to expand its programs. “It’s always been, as the whole field always is, under-resourced,” she said. “It’s overwhelmingly dependent on money from federal grants that are under threat….We’re all realizing how important public health is as we become more global and diseases are shared across boundaries.”
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