September 13, 1990
ay Greenberg has a vivid memory of his first meeting as dean of Emory's School of Public Health. "It was an organizational meeting for the kick-off of the university-wide fundraising campaign," he says. "At o ne point, each of the deans was asked to turn to a particular tab in the thick notebook in front of us. Under this tab was a list of all the identified donor prospects to our respective schools. My page was blank."
That blank page became a metaphor for Greenberg as he went about the work of a new dean of a new school. "We started with a completely blank page and had to work quickly to fill it in," he says.
Emory's was the first new school of public health to be established in a private academic institution in 50 years and the first new school at Emory in more than 70 years. While it lacked the reputation of other schools, it was unencumbered with inherit ed baggage that years of institutional history often bring. "We didn't have to adapt to the decisions others made decades earlier," Greenberg says. "Our frame of reference was always the present and future, which created an unprecedented level of exciteme nt and energy."
Greenberg's biggest immediate challenge was establishing a basic infrastructure. The new school had to create working policies for day-to-day operations, an organizational structure, divisions and departments, and procedures for promotions and tenure. Although by 1990, some 300 alumni had graduated from the MPH program, an alumni association, an alumni advisory board, and a steering committee had yet to be founded. And, facing accreditation, the school had to take a hard look at its academic programs.
To assist in accomplishing these formidable tasks, Greenberg appointed two associate deans: Mike Kutner, head of biostatistics, took charge of academic affairs, and Fred Kennedy, who had taught in the public health program for more than 12 years, becam e responsible for management and planning. Kathryn Heath Graves came to direct development and alumni affairs.
"You knew everybody," Graves says. "We had faculty meetings around a conference table. Communication was easy because we were all on one floor of the American Cancer Society building. There was (and still is) a great sense of momentum and excitement ab out our potential."
sk any of the long-time faculty to describe the early years as a school, and they'll answer "rapid growth." "In the Greenberg years, we saw a tremendous increase in students, tuition income, and funding," sa ys Kennedy. "It had taken us 10 years to get to 30 faculty. In the five years that Ray was dean, our faculty grew to 75 or 80." In one year alone, around 50 new faculty were hired.
Not only was the size of the faculty almost tripling but also their academic reputations were growing exponentially. In the early 1990s, the dean successfully recruited teachers of international renown to Emory to staff departments and found centers. A mong them was Carol J. R. Hogue, who became the school's first endowed chair, the Jules and Uldeen Terry Chair in Maternal and Child Health. Hogue established the Women's and Children's Center in 1992 to empower women to improve health. Arthur Kellermann, an expert at the forefront of injury prevention research and today the chair of the School of Medicine's Depar tment of Emergency Medicine, established the Center for Injury Control, which researched prevention of injuries from car accidents to juvenile gun violence. Joyce Essien, a CDC authority on public health practice, established another center that seeks to improve the design and implementation of preventive health systems in communities.
Internationally renowned epidemiologist David Kleinbaum, who co-authored what is considered the "bible" on epidemiological methods, brought his expertise in advancing new statistical theories and their health-related applications to the epidemiology fa culty.
A respected scientist, Glen Maberly, came to help create and co-direct the Program Against Micronutrient Nutrition - a collaborative effort between the school, the CDC, and the Task Force for Child Survival and Development - and to teach in internation al health. Also in international health, Reynaldo Martorell, known worldwide for his ground-breaking longitudinal studies on maternal and infant nutrition and the growth and development of children, was brought to Emory as a Robert W. Woodruff Professor o f International Nutrition.
The growth in size and stature of the student body kept pace with that of the faculty. In a few years, it too had tripled, with the School of Public Health competing well with more established programs. Many public health students were drawn to Emory b ecause of its proximity to the CDC and Emory's many affiliations and collaborations with that premiere institution. In international health, faculty gathered support for student practicums abroad, an unusual offering for master's degree students, and attr acted the prestigious Kellogg and Humphrey fellowship programs to the school, thereby spreading its reputation throughout the United States and abroad.
Paralleling that growth, extramural research funding took a leap ahead. In just a few years, the School of Public Health quickly emerged as second only to the School of Medicine in the size of its research portfolio at Emory. For example, Greenberg, along with researchers Jonathan Liff and Ralph Coates, brought support from the National Cancer Institute for Atlanta's SEER (surveillance, epidemiology, and end results) program.
Naturally, the growth created some challenges. "You can imagine that going from 30 to 80 faculty in one year might usher in a whole host of problems," says Kutner, who had left Emory in 1993 to build a faculty in biostatistics at the Cleveland Clinic a nd who returned this year to rejoin his biostatistics colleagues at Emory. Levinson, Kutner's successor, concurs: "We did experience some perilous times. When we were growing rapidly, it was like looking over the edge of a precipice."
Academic Year 1993-1994
O. Wayne Rollins and Grace Crum Rollins
n 1988, with the move of the MPH program to quarters at the American Cancer Society (ACS), there was so much space administrators and faculty had their pick of offices. However, with the escalating expansion in faculty, students, and staff that came with school status, that scenario soon changed. Within a year, the school had spilled over onto another floor of the ACS building, and still it was running out of room.
At one meeting of the Emory Campaign, then in progress, Greenberg made the school's pressing space needs public, and he presented a plan to build a permanent home. Luckily, a long-time Emory friend, O. Wayne Rollins, attended that meeting.
Rollins, a self-made business genius, had orchestrated what many consider the first leveraged buyout when he bought Orkin Exterminating in 1964. His business, which also included radio and television stations, expanded to encompass oil and gas services , security systems, and real estate.
But more than making his mark in business, Rollins wanted to improve the lives of those around him. "He was very interested in addressing the ills of society," says Graves.
Rollins also had played an active role at Emory, making major contributions to the Candler School of Theology and as a member of the university's Board of Trustees. With a lead gift to the School of Medicine, he and his wife, Grace, enabled the constru ction of a research building that doubled laboratory space on campus. Now, when he heard of the School of Public Health's need for its own building, he again volunteered his support. The school's mission to improve health fit well with his own mission to reach out to underserved communities, bringing them hope of a better life.
Tragically, Rollins was not to live long enough to see his wish fulfilled. He died unexpectedly in 1991. It was important, however, to his widow and his sons, Randall and Gary, that they honor his vision. They are a close-knit family, often visiting with each other, taking a shared yearly vacation, and working in the family's many businesses. While still in their first year of mourning, the family made a $10 million lead gift to the school, allowing the planning and construction of the build ing to proceed.
In April 1993, Grace Rollins herself, wearing a pink hard hat, turned the first shovels of dirt at the groundbreaking for the new building, which would bear her name and bring public recognition to someone who prefers the private, quiet pleasures of fa mily to center stage.
During the next 19 months, the Grace Crum Rollins Public Health Building took shape. Workers poured the 12,000-square-foot slab just before the onslaught of winter weather. Designers chose environmentally friendly materials for the interiors and Georgi a stone for the exterior. Electricians installed intricate computer wiring into the building's frame to enable the school to have cutting-edge technology. Steadily, student classrooms and faculty offices rose 10 floors. By November 1994, the 137,000-squar e-foot building was ready for the school's administration and faculty to begin their move.
Just preceding the move, Emory announced that its School of Public Health would take the name of Rollins to honor the family that had helped turn their patriarch's vision of a home for public health into reality. The fall also brought other momentous n ews when Greenberg announced his resignation.
reenberg's decision came after much reflection on the direction the school should subsequently take. His decision to leave Emory, he says, sprang from "the financial hardship of trying to operate a school in a private university with minimal endowment assigned to the school. I had come to believe that the university would not make a higher level of financial commitment to the school without the incentive created by negotiations with an incoming candidate for dean."
Greenberg also felt "that the school had grown very rapidly over the prior five years and needed a pause from this growth spurt to accommodate its new size and complexity. My belief was that this second phase of coming to equilibrium could best be acco mplished with a different style of leadership than my own."
In his closing letter to alumni, Greenberg wrote a fond good-bye. "In the life of an academic institution, five years pass in the blink of an eye." Greenberg joined the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) as vice president of academic affairs i n the fall of 1995. His blink-of-an-eye tenure as dean was over, but today as president of MUSC, he admits that "an important part of my heart is still with the school. I delight in hearing about some new success or accomplishment of my friends there," he says. "I will always feel that my years as dean were among the most important of my life."
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