I’m writing to share the news that our former dean and Public Health hero, Donald Ainslie (D.A.) Henderson, passed away Friday evening. He was not just beloved by the Bloomberg School, but by the world for his demeanor and work. Truly, D.A. Henderson has saved millions of lives. He led the effort with the World Health Organization to eradicate smallpox and continued to play a role in our nation’s preparedness and response efforts for bioterrorism.
I only had the pleasure of hearing Dean Emeritus Henderson speak once at a Bioethics Symposium, but his knowledge and authority were apparent from that one lecture. In that lecture he chose to share his experience not with the obvious work against smallpox, but in developing the polio vaccine.
Henderson served as Dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health from 1977 to 1990. In that time, the school’s first female chair and first female academic dean were appointed. In addition, Bloomberg gained their first African-American associate dean. Under his leadership, enrollment increased by 40 percent and 13 new centers and institutes were established.
The Bloomberg School, and the world, will greatly miss D.A. Henderson’s influence, but his work will live on through the lives he saved and the students he inspired and influenced. I only hope he knows how very much we all appreciate him and his efforts.
For more information on D.A. Henderson’s life and contributions, I recommend articles from The New York Times, The Washington Post and STAT.