Second Century Distinguished Professorship
New professorship honors Bloomberg School "first couple" Dean Mike Klag and Lucy Meoni
Dean Michael J. Klag and his wife, Biostatistics faculty member Lucy A. Meoni
After you’ve led the top-ranked school of public health for a dozen years, what do you do for an encore? Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH ’87, will find out on October 1, 2017, his first day as a full-time faculty member since he assumed the deanship on September 1, 2005. Mike will map out his path going forward during an 18-month sabbatical and will return to enjoy a truly spectacular reminder of his deanship.
In early 2019, Mike will be installed as the inaugural holder of the Second Century Distinguished Professorship, established by generous donors and close friends of Mike and his wife Lucy, including members of the Bloomberg School’s Health Advisory Board (HAB) and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
After Mike retires, the professorship will become the Michael J. Klag and Lucy A. Meoni Distinguished Professorship, in keeping with the donors’ wishes to recognize Lucy’s contributions as Mike’s crucial partner in the School’s success and a faculty member in her own right. Reflecting Mike’s interdisciplinary work in epidemiology, health policy, international health, and other fields, the holder must be jointly appointed in at least two Bloomberg School departments.
Major donors give a major effort
Initial support for the professorship came from a generous lead gift from the estate of alumna Katharine Welsh, which also established the Katharine Welsh Endowment for Advanced Scientific Study in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. HAB development chair Irene Frary’s leadership and energy drove the professorship campaign forward. In order to elevate the professorship fund, JHU Trustee Emeritus Connie Caplan and Dean Emeritus Al Sommer, MD, MHS ’73 secured leadership support from Bloomberg Philanthropies in honor of Mike’s “tremendous impact on global health through his extraordinary leadership as dean.” The momentum continued with members of the HAB and others joining together to commit nearly $1 million more, allowing the professorship fund to exceed the original $2.5 million goal.
Mike is beloved by the HAB members, many of whom have been on the Board for all of his 12 years as Dean. They were enthusiastic and generous in their support of the professorship, in addition to other contributions they have made to the School.
Mike’s strong, collegial relationships with each HAB member were essential for smoothing the path to establishing the professorship. HAB chair Steve Moore, MD, MPH ’93, explained that Mike does not highlight his own accomplishments but “always makes it about you and gives back to you. Few people at that level of leadership can do that the way he does.” Steve emphasized that because Mike “has always made supporting the School a top priority, everyone was pleased to have an opportunity to support Mike.”
This high level of engagement and commitment grew over many hours together in meetings and on HAB Public Health in Action trips to see the School’s contributions around the world. On her first trip with the HAB, Mike’s wife, biostatistician Lucy Meoni, ScM ’82, remembers, “They welcomed me with open arms. They were very interested in my research, and were very generous and warm to me as I came into this new role.”
Partner and sounding board
After earning an ScM in biostatistics from the Bloomberg School in 1982, Lucy joined the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine faculty. In 2006, she changed from a joint to a primary appointment in Biostatistics. Lucy is proudest of her work on the Precursors Study, where she first met Mike in 1987 when she was associate director. Since Mike was named director of the Precursors Study in 1988, they have published more than 40 articles and conference papers together.
Mike was tragically widowed soon after becoming dean in 2005, and he and Lucy married in 2008. As a long-time faculty member, she already had an in-depth knowledge of the School. As the dean’s wife, Lucy has been a great partner and instrumental in building relationships with the School's supporters. When they learned about the professorship, Lucy says that she and Mike were overwhelmed with gratitude. She thinks that this support will enable them “to continue to help the School in its mission.”