Campus & Community

$12.5M to support innovation in education at HSPH

5 min read

Donors provide additional $2.5 million to improve health systems performance globally

A major effort under way at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) to redesign its educational strategy has received significant new support of $12.5 million from the Charina Endowment Fund and Richard L. (M.B.A. ’59) and Ronay Menschel of New York City.

The Transforming Public Health Education Initiative Fund will support development of innovative materials, technologies, and approaches required to redesign the master’s degree program for health professionals and to develop a new leadership doctorate in public health. The innovations will also benefit other graduate degree programs at the School as part of an overall effort to better prepare 21st-century students to achieve maximum impact in their careers.

The $12.5 million will underwrite efforts by the HSPH faculty to infuse the educational experience at HSPH with more case-based and field-based “real world” learning opportunities. It will also accelerate efforts at the School to develop “flipped classroom” experiences, in which lecture-style material is increasingly delivered online before class, while classroom time is spent by students and faculty actively engaging together to develop strategies for solving the types of problems students will encounter in their careers.

The fund will support the development of revised and enhanced master’s-level curricula to be made available to students in 2015, and a new doctor of public health (Dr.P.H.) degree that the School will offer for the first time beginning in 2014. Both degrees will continue and strengthen the HSPH tradition of preparing students for leadership careers in public health.

The overall support to public health in the past year by the Charina Endowment Fund and the Menschels is $15 million. Their support includes an earlier $2.5 million to fund Ariadne Labs, a joint initiative of HSPH and Brigham and Women’s Hospital headed by Atul Gawande to improve health systems performance in the U.S. and globally through simple checklists and other innovations that reduce surgical errors, increase the safety of childbirth, and produce better planning with patients for end-of-life care.

This new funding for education builds on a gift HSPH received in 2012 from an anonymous donor for $5 million for curriculum development and scholarships for a new doctor of public health (Dr.P.H.) program at the School. The School also received a $500,000 grant from the Medtronic Foundation in 2011 to support efforts to enhance its educational programs, and a $300,000 grant for faculty training from the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT).

“This combined funding, totaling $18.3 million, shows a remarkable level of philanthropic interest in, and commitment to, public health education in the U.S. and globally. It positions us well to continue to educate the public health leaders of tomorrow,” said Julio Frenk, HSPH dean. “As soon as this fall, students at the School will begin to benefit from the generosity of these gifts through the enhanced classroom experiences they will encounter.”

The Transforming Public Health Education Initiative Fund will also support facilities development to make these innovative and team-based approaches to education possible. It will facilitate opportunities for HSPH faculty to collaborate with other faculty across Harvard to improve students’ educational experiences, and will provide support for faculty to learn new ways of teaching content that will more actively involve students in learning.

“Public health students preparing for leadership roles in government, nongovernmental agencies, and private firms need both in-depth knowledge in specialized areas of public health and a wealth of competencies that enable them to work collaboratively across the wide range of disciplines involved in improving the world’s health,” said Frenk. “We are re-envisioning our approach to education in our professional programs to enable our students to meet the rapidly changing needs of the field.”

“We support Harvard School of Public Health with our philanthropy because we believe in the importance of public health and the opportunity to expand the knowledge and skill sets of future public health leaders through the use of technology and case studies examining evolving health challenges,” said Ronay Menschel.

“Improving learning leads to better-prepared students who can more successfully address the major public health issues facing the world today,” said Richard Menschel. “Better-educated public health leaders have the capacity to improve the health of us all.”

“To transform public health education for the 21st century we must supplement traditional lectures with case-based teaching and with team-based learning, simulations, and other experience-oriented opportunities,” said Frenk. “Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Charina Endowment Fund and Richard and Ronay Menschel, we will harness the latest advances in educational technology and give our faculty the time they very much want to learn new teaching methods and infuse their courses with these new instructional approaches.”

Richard Menschel, a senior director at Goldman Sachs, lives in Manhattan with his wife, Ronay, who is the chairwoman of Phipps Houses and The Trust for Governors Island. They have three daughters: Charis ’97; Sabina ’99, M.B.A. ’05; and Celene ’04, M.B.A.’13. Ronay is a Cornell University graduate and a past vice chair of its board of trustees. Over the years, the couple has shared their generosity with several Harvard Schools and programs, including the Business School, the Graduate School of Education, HSPH, and the Harvard Art Museums. Richard Menschel’s involvement with Harvard includes many leadership roles, including national co-chair of the Harvard University Campaign in 1992-99, service on the University Campaign Executive Committee, and honorary co-chair of the forthcoming HSPH Capital Campaign. Richard Menschel is a recipient of the Harvard Medal.