In 2010, when Lynn R. Goldman accepted the position of dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, her mother asked her one question.
“Lynn, what does a dean do?”
For Dr. Goldman, the answer was simple: “All the things you taught me”—above all compassion and responsibility toward others.
Dr. Goldman was formally installed Tuesday as the Michael and Lori Milken Dean of Public Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health. The ceremony, held at the school’s new building, featured remarks by Michael Milken, chair of The Milken Institute; George Washington President Steven Knapp; Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Lerman; and Victor Dzau, president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
A world-renowned epidemiologist, pediatrician, educator, and former Environmental Protection Agency regulator, Dr. Goldman is only the second endowed dean at the George Washington University.
Describing the installation as “a true honor,” Dr. Goldman gave a special thanks to Michael and Lori Milken and Sumner M. Redstone for their “vison and generosity.”
“I especially thank the Milkens for their understanding the critical importance of leadership as shown by their establishing the Michael and Lori Milken Dean,” she said. “And together with the vision, values and commitment of the leadership at the George Washington University, this incredible institution is fully and visibly committed to public health.”
The School of Public Health and Health Services was renamed the Milken Institute School of Public Health last year in recognition of exceptional and generous contributions from the Milken Institute, the Sumner M. Redstone Charitable Foundation and the Milken Family Foundation. These gifts—totaling $80 million—mark the largest donation ever received by the university.
“Under [Dean Goldman’s] tenure, the school has truly come into its own,” President Knapp said. “Now in its 18th year, it’s recognized as one of the nation’s premier schools of public health. Dr. Goldman’s leadership last year led to the historic announcement of a combined $80 million gift from the Milken Institute, the Milken Family Foundation, and the Sumner M. Redstone Foundation. That generous gift will ensure that the school will continue to rise in stature and fully realize its mission of advancing public health both nationally and globally.”
In his remarks, Milken described the collaboration between GW and The Milken Institute on a range of public health initiatives over the past few years, including 2012’s Celebration of Science at GW and the 2014 Summit on Public Health and Prosperity, an event co-hosted by the CDC Foundation in Atlanta.
Milken said the Milken Institute School of Public Health has the potential to shine “the brightest light” on the major public health issues of the world.
“With the decision-makers within half a mile of where we sit today, we believe our partnership with the George Washington University can change these priorities, not just for the United States but for the world,” Milken said. “It takes leadership to make these things happen, and we couldn’t be happier with the leadership of the Milken Institute School of Public Health and of the George Washington University.”
Calling Dr. Goldman “one of the most distinguished academics in the field of health policy,” Dr. Dzau praised her for her academic and policy work and her contributions to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which includes membership on the IOM Council, planning the first IOM annual meeting on the topic of environmental health and work on an initiative that aims to improve outbreak response and preparedness spurred by the recent Ebola outbreak.
“My feeling is many people are intimidated by the complexities of science, medicine and policy, but Lynn is one of those [people] who has mastered all three and has devoted her life to using them for the good of humankind,” Dr. Dzau said. “We are incredibly fortunate to have people like Lynn, who use their positions and platforms to further the interests of those who don’t have a big voice.”
Dr. Goldman discovered her passion for public health as a co-administrator for the Berkeley Free Clinic while she was an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley.
“As much as I loved helping individuals, I felt frustrated by patching people up and then sending them back out into the environments that were making them sick in the first place,” she said. “I realized that my true passion would be to go as far upstream as possible to prevent the conditions that were causing ill health.”
Calling her dean appointment a “privilege,” Dr. Goldman noted that support for student scholarships— including the Michael and Lori Milken Public Health scholarship program—faculty research and recruitment, and new facilities like the Milken Institute School for Public Health Building are critical to help the school continue to transform the future of public health.
“Looking around there today, I do not sense the ghosts of the past that haunt many academic institutions,” Dr. Goldman said. “What I do sense is the very high level of energy in this wonderful building; the passion for public health among our students, faculty and staff; the opportunity to bring people together of enormous intelligence to commit to the transformational public health work in which we’re engaged. This is work that is vital to the health and wealth of our global community. And there isn’t a better place to do this work today than the George Washington University.”