Excuse us for saying so, but this is really big freaking deal. We’re talking about the seventh largest gift to an institution of higher learning ever, and it’s for public health. It’s to the Harvard School of Public Health, no less, and it’s coming out of total left field.
How left? Morningside Foundation left. Heard of ‘em? Yeah, neither had we.
Turns out the foundation is based in Hong Kong, and led by two brothers, Ronnie and Gerald Chan. Gerald Chan attended the School of Public Health in the 1970s, earning a master’s degree in medical radiological physics, and a doctorate in radiation biology. He worked as a research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, too, before leaving in 1986 to form the Morningside Group with his brother. From thence arose the foundation.
It was founded in 1996, and its stated mission is forwarding higher education in the U.S. and Asia. It’s given several million dollars to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as well as Johns Hopkins University, the Yale-China Association, and UCLA. Also, it likes Jesus. It’s done a lot to support Christian education, giving to Bibles for America, the Christian Research Institute, and others.
But back to the big gift. It’s an unrestricted $350 million, to help the Harvard School of Public Health take on the biggest health challenges in the world.
The gift specifies four major global health threats to focus on: pandemics like Ebola and malaria; unsafe physical environments like those caused by everything from gun violence to tobacco smoke; poverty and its associated humanitarian crises; and floundering healthcare systems worldwide.
One way funds will be used is to provide support for qualified students from developing nations, encouraging them to study public health at Harvard and return home free of the burden of debt.
The gift will also allow the school to invest more in ideas, and to improve its facilities.