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Vol.24, No. 01 Sept. 4, 1998

Mailman Foundation Gives $33 Million to Public Health

The largest single gift ever made to a school of public health - $33 million - was received this summer by the Columbia School of Public Health (CSPH) from the New York City-based Mailman Foundation, Inc. It is also the largest gift in the history of the foundation.

In recognition of the significance of the contribution, President George Rupp announced that the University will name its internationally renowned school of public health The Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University in honor of the late Joseph Lawrence Mailman, a son of immigrants who became a prominent investor and philanthropist.

Rupp said that this landmark gift will help the School of Public Health continue to play a leadership role in influencing and defining health care well into the next century. "One of the nation's first schools of public health, CSPH is now celebrating its 75th anniversary. Over the years, the School has made many important contributions to our nation's health and is widely considered one of the country's leading schools of public health."

Recent examples of its contributions include:

Discovery of the Herpes virus link to Kaposi's sarcoma, a serious cancer complication seen in many AIDS patients;

Careful analyses of the introduction of managed care for Medicaid patients;

Coordination of studies on breast cancer on Long Island;

Impact of the Chernobyl radiation disaster on the development of cancers; and

Creation of one of the largest community-based programs of services for teens in the country by any academic health center.

Herbert Pardes, M.D., Columbia's vice president for the health sciences and dean of the faculty of medicine, extolled the Mailman family for this exciting gift.

"At the Columbia Health Sciences," he said, "there is unusual cooperation and collaboration between the four health science schools. The School of Public Health has played a leading role in the dialogue, both locally and nationally, on the rapidly expanding linkages between medicine and public health. Many units within the School collaborate closely with both clinical and basic science departments and centers at the medical school, as well as with programs of the nursing and dental schools. The School of Public Health is taking the lead in the development of a Medical Center-wide program of research on quality of care, use of technological innovation, cost effectiveness studies and many other important health services research questions of concern to the health and well-being of the American people."

Allan Rosenfield, M.D., dean of the School of Public Health, said, "The school is forever indebted to the Mailman family for its extraordinary generosity, which so clearly demonstrates its belief and support of our public health mission. We are immensely proud of our new name. This gift will strengthen the institution's endowment, and increase the visibility of the school of public health and its mission among health professionals, the general public, and the $33 Million to Columbia School of Public Health philanthropic community. It will also ensure our continued leadership on the many health policy issues of such great importance to communities and individuals in our country and throughout the world."

What the Gift Will Do:

Dean Rosenfield said that the School's newly-fortified endowment will be used for: Faculty support; financial aid to students in need, particularly the underserved; and the school's public health programs and research, including: Problem of health care for the poor, AIDS, community and household violence, environmental degradation, cancer, women's reproductive health, and children living in poverty.

The Donors:

The family-run Mailman Foundation, founded by the late Joseph Lawrence Mailman, has been an important benefactor to institutions concerned with education, medicine and the arts, including the Mailman Research Center in Psychobiology at Harvard's McLean Hospital in Massachusetts; the Mailman Center for Child Development of the University of Miami Medical School, Miami, Florida; and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

Mailman's extensive philanthropy was made possible by his business success. He and his brother, Abraham, formed the Utica Knife and Razor Company, the Pal Blade Company, and later the Mailman Corporation, one of the earliest conglomerates in North America. In the course of his enterprising career, Mailman was president of the Persona Blade Company and the British Rubber Company and chairman of the board of Air Express International.

A successful fundraiser for many philanthropic organizations, including the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, Mailman also actively assisted families fleeing Nazi Germany.

"This gift is a reflection of Joseph Mailman's spirit," said Jody Wolfe, about her father. "The School of Public Health brings so many disciplines together. When our family learned the scope of the School's work in community health, we became intrigued with the possibility of helping it to do more," she said.

In making this major commitment, she states that the family foundation is continuing Joseph Mailman's tradition of philanthropy.

Mailman's son, Josh, said, "We want to be able to tell our grandchildren that we did all we could." He noted that the gift is extremely large for a relatively small foundation and can set an example for others. The family strongly wishes that its gift will stimulate others to give generously to the School of Public Health.

Phyllis Mailman recalled that her late husband's actions often influenced others, and said, "He would be pleased with the Mailman Foundations's decision to invest in Columbia School of Public Health. He'd say 'this is a good deal.' The family's hope is that the gift may encourage other small family foundations to consider making such transforming gifts to really make a difference, to think about the possibilities of how they can make a statement. And to stop being shy about it; the time is now."

The only accredited school of public health in the New York metropolitan area and among the first in the nation, Columbia School of Public Health provides instruction and research opportunities to 650 graduate students in pursuit of masters and doctoral degrees. Its students and 150 multi-disciplinary faculty engage in research and service in the city, the nation, and around the world, while concentrating on biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health policy and management, population and family health and sociomedical sciences.