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$100 million gift to fund research, scholarship at Rollins School of Public Health

Students pose at the Rollins School of Public Health. (Photo by Emory University.)

By David Pendered

The recent $100 million gift to Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health furthers Atlanta’s position of leadership, research and scholarship in the global effort to prevent disease and prolong life.

The O. Wayne Rollins Foundation provided the gift to support two endowed funds — the Rollins Fund for Faculty Excellence and the Rollins Fund for Student Success. The first fund is to help recruit and retain faculty. The second is to increase funds for work-study programs.

Leaders from Emory and the Rollins Foundation posed for a photo at a special event announcing a $100 million gift. They include (from left): Jonathan S. Lewin, Emory executive vice president for health affairs, Woodruff Health Sciences Center executive director and Emory Healthcare CEO; John Rice, Emory University Board of Trustees; Pam Rollins, O. Wayne Rollins Foundation trustee; James Curran, dean of Rollins School of Public Health; Amy Rollins Kreisler, O. Wayne Rollins Foundation executive director; Emory President Gregory L. Fenves; Timothy C. Rollins, Emory University Board of Trustees and O. Wayne Rollins Foundation trustee; M. Daniele Fallin, incoming dean of Rollins School of Public Health; Robert C. Goddard III, Emory University Board of Trustees chair; and Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Emory provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. (Photo by Emory University.)

The Feb. 1 announcement of the gift came on the heels of the appointment of M. Daniele Fallin to lead the school starting July 1, following the retirement of Rollins’ current dean, Dr. James Curran.

To join Rollins, Fallin gave up a significant role at Johns Hopkins, the nation’s No. 1 public health school, according to 2021 rankings by U.S. News and World Report. Fallin left an endowed professorship and department chair position. In addition, Fallin directed a research center and held joint appointments at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2021, Fallin was selected as a Bloomberg Centennial Professor.

The $100 million gift from Rollins is to provide Fallin and the school’s leadership with considerable tools to shape Rollins’ next generation of research and scholarship. In the statement announcing the gift, Fallin described the impact the money is to have on public health and Rollins’ future in that world.

“This is a critical moment for public health in our country and around the world,” Fallin said in a statement. “This gift enables the Rollins School of Public Health to continue its incredible growth and impact by providing sustainable funds to support and increase an outstanding faculty while also expanding education of the next generation of public health researchers and work force.”

The subjects to be targeted by the Rollins Fund for Faculty Excellence are to include cancer research, infectious diseases, safe water, sanitation and hygiene. School leaders are to identify subjects where Rollins can gain national prominence and recruit faculty in those areas, according to the statement.

Another focus area is one where Fallin has particular expertise — mental health. Fallin chairs the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins, where she holds joint appointments in biostatistics and genetic epidemiology, according to her bio at Johns Hopkins. Fallin directs the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

Curran, Rollins’ retiring dean, offered his thoughts on the Rollins’ gift from the perspective of one who led the school 26 years, following 25 years at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are deeply grateful to the Rollins family for this extraordinary commitment and their enduring belief in our mission to promote health, prevent disease and save lives,” Curran said in the statement. “Support from the Rollins family has been crucial to the success of our school, and their continued investment in our faculty and students has led to remarkable advancements in research and profound impact on the health of populations throughout the world.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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