Founding dean values opportunities given to him

Ray and Leah Greenburg Ray and Leah Greenberg

Ruth and Bernard Greenberg Ruth and Bernard Greenberg

The former dean of Rollins School of Public Health is honoring the school and his family.

A bequest from Ray and Leah Greenberg will establish the Dr. Bernard and Ruth Greenberg Fund for Biostatistics and Epidemiology faculty and students.

Ray Greenberg was the founding dean of the RSPH, serving in that capacity from 1990 until 1995, when he was appointed vice president of academic affairs and provost at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He now serves as its president.

The fund, created in recognition of Greenberg’s parents, acknowledges their contributions to social justice and Bernard Greenberg’s legendary leadership in the fields of biostatistics and public health.

“I am where I am today in large part because of opportunities I received at Emory, and I was in a position to take advantage of those opportunities because of the background my parents gave to me,” Greenberg says. “This is a perfect way to express my appreciation to both my parents and to a university that, as long as I live, will hold a very special place in my heart.”

The Greenbergs’ gift will provide unrestricted support to the departments of biostatistics and bioinformatics and epidemiology, including but not limited to support for faculty, scholarships for master’s degree students, or doctoral students.

Greenberg’s parents demonstrated by example what academics could accomplish, he says. “Growing up, I knew that my parents were terrific role models for my siblings and me, but I didn’t have a sense of how many other people they had influenced. It was only later that I learned how my father had helped shape and advance the careers of many people in public health, medicine, nursing and dentistry.”

Greenberg’s mother, Ruth, also served as an important academic role model. She earned her master’s degree in biochemistry from Yale during World War II.

“She was a pioneer,” her son says. “My parents married just after my father got out of the Army. He went to graduate school at North Carolina State, and she taught there while he was a grad student. She was the first academic employed in our family. My father would not have gotten his degree if it had not been for my mother’s work at NC State.”

After earning his PhD in 1949, the elder Greenberg was appointed chair of the newly created Department of Biostatistics at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. During his more than two-decade tenure as chair, his work had profound national and global impact. In 1972, he was named dean of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health. A strong advocate for social justice, he championed national and international health causes, including access to health care, population growth, the environment, mental illness, substance abuse, and injury prevention. He died of cancer in 1985. After his death, Ruth remained active with the UNC School of Public Health until she moved from Chapel Hill a couple of years ago.

Their son Ray joined Emory at age 28 to direct Emory School of Medicine’s cancer surveillance program. Four years later, he was named chair of the school’s newly merged Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and in 1990 was appointed dean of Emory’s new School of Public Health.

“Twenty years later, as I select people for leadership roles, I wonder if I have the courage that Charles Hatcher, Emory’s vice president for health affairs, and Emory President James Laney demonstrated in selecting me as dean at such an early stage of my career,” Greenberg says. “I became dean of the School of Public Health at age 35, but from the day I was first recruited to Emory, I was given amazing opportunities. People were willing to take a chance on me, and for that I will be grateful always.”—Maria Lameiras

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