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International Health

Professor Timothy Baker, MD MPH
Commemorating 50 years of Contributions to the School and the Department

The Department recently presented Dr. Timothy Baker with a plaque—designed by Assistant Scientist Amnesty LeFevre—as a small token of appreciation for his many contributions to public health over the last 50 years. The plaque, which now hangs outside his office on the 8th floor, includes a photo of the Wolfe Street building before its most recent renovation and photos of the deans and Department chairs with whom Dr. Baker has served. A story by Baker himself about an important event leading to the creation of the Department is included (reproduced below) along with copies of other historical documents.

Baker and LeFevreIn 1961, Dr. Baker was appointed as acting chairman of the Division of International Health in the Department of Public Health Administration. In 1966, the Division would become the Department of International Health. Since its inception, Dr. Baker has played a lead role in recruiting faculty (including Drs. Carl Taylor and Robert Black to serve as Department chairs), developing curriculum, mentoring students and faculty, and bringing in financial support for major research projects.

Department Chair Dr. Robert Black remembers one of Baker’s many fund-raising successes: “Dr. Baker was directing the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship program of the School and thought to invite Edgar Berman to the fellows’ graduation. Berman was the physician to Humphrey and had a history, albeit a tenuous one, in international health work, which he nevertheless was proud of. The relationship that Baker established between the School and Berman eventually led to the endowment of the Edgar Berman professorship in International Health with Dean Henderson the first occupant in 1990 and myself the second in 1994.”

How the Department of International Health Started
by Dr. Timothy Baker 

In the late 1950s, Dr. Eugene Campbell, Director of Health for USAID, presented a proposal to the Association of Schools of Public Health at their meeting in Minneapolis. His proposal was to establish a program for training in international health. He had funding in hand for the project.  His presentation was received with polite attention, but as soon as he left the room, objections arose. Dean Jack Snyder from Harvard cited difficulties that they had had working with USAID projects. Dean Andy Anderson from Minnesota followed suit and the USAID proposal was voted down. Flying back from Minneapolis Dr. Baker said to Dean Stebbins, "Stebby, we should go for that grant." Dean Stebbins said, "I had hoped that you would come up with that conclusion." The grant was applied for, approved, and thus a formal base for teaching and research in international health was established at the School of Public Health.

 --Brandon Howard, May 2010