JHU School of Public Health to host yearlong centennial celebration

Video: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is about to mark its centennial, and a busy, globe-spanning itinerary of celebratory events is in the works. The yearlong celebration, A Century of Saving Lives, will begin June 29 with the arrival of the Centennial MPH Class of 2016 and concludes with a birthday celebration on June 13, 2016, to commemorate the school's founding.

The school was born from a surprise announcement. Back on June 13, 1916—with Woodrow Wilson in the White House and World War I raging across Europe—the university held its commencement ceremonies. William Henry Welch, dean of the School of Medicine and a pathology professor, took to the stage to announce that the Rockefeller Foundation had chosen Johns Hopkins to receive a grant funding the creation of the world's first school of hygiene and public health.

The news came as an exciting shock to those present, luminaries and students alike. For, you see, the selection had been a closely guarded secret, and a host of prominent schools, including Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania, had been vying for the $267,000 grant (just over $5.7 million in current dollars). Welch went on to become the first dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Today, the renamed Bloomberg School of Public Health is not only the oldest such institution but also the largest and most prominent, topping the U.S. News & World Report rankings of public health schools every year since the category's inception in 1994. Presently, it enrolls some 2,250 students from more than 80 countries.

In its first 100 years, the school has helped eradicate smallpox, make water safe to drink, improve child survival through better nutrition, reduce the spread of HIV, and uncover the dangers of tobacco smoke. The school's mission is distilled thusly: Protecting Health, Saving Lives—Millions at a Time.

"As the first independent graduate school of public health, our faculty, staff, and alumni have been at the vanguard of public health efforts," says Michael J. Klag, dean of the school. "We've had an incredible impact. The work that goes on in the Bloomberg School's labs, classrooms, and field sites around the world each day is awe-inspiring. The cumulative impact of a century of such dedication is incredible. This coming year, we're looking forward to recognizing and celebrating what a remarkable institution this is."

Given all that the school and its graduates have accomplished, it seems fitting that the milestone should be marked with more than just a cake with 100 candles and a speech or two. Celebrations kick off this summer with the arrival of the Centennial Class of 2016 and with events and activities scheduled all year long, across the school's campus and around the world.

Events in the coming year include:

Around the World in 100 Dinners—The school's global alumni network is being encouraged to come together and share a dinner—in whatever local form it may take—in celebration of the centennial. The school's Constituent Relations team is crafting a tool kit to help facilitate the far-flung feasting. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to participate as well.

Historic Issues Timeline—Look for innovative displays and exhibits all around the school and throughout the year, providing a timeline of key moments and milestones in a century of public health.

Department-Focused Monthly Programs—From Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to Population, Family and Reproductive Health, a different entity each month will celebrate with special happenings and activities.

A Second School History Book—Johns Hopkins University Press will publish a book by Bloomberg School historian Karen Kruse Thomas covering the school's history from 1935 to 1985. It's based on four years of archival research and more than 60 oral history interviews with faculty, staff, and alumni. Thomas' work will build on the earlier book Disease & Discovery by Elizabeth Fee, which chronicled the school's first two decades.

Future of Public Health—Celebrating the past 100 years in public health is also a good time to think about the next 100. A series of activities over the year will examine future public health priorities, challenges, and potential solutions. What might people be looking back on in the year 2116?

Finale Birthday Bash—On June 13, 2016, the centennial celebrations will reach their zenith with a grand birthday celebration. A cake befitting 100 years in public health will be served.

"We are looking forward to a centennial year filled with activities and events that both celebrate the past century of lifesaving contributions by the Bloomberg School and help us chart the next century's priorities for improving health worldwide," says Klag. "We aim to celebrate the centennial year in true Hopkins fashion: With intellectual rigor, an ongoing commitment to our mission, and some good old-fashioned fun for the entire school, university, and global communities."

Learn more at http://www.jhsph.edu/about/centennial-2016/

Posted in University News

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