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Why We Give: Robert S. and Barbara Gold

Robert S. and Barbara Gold

We are the children of Depression-era parents and were both educated in public schools and universities. We place a high value on affordable, high-quality education for all and on innovative thinking.

Bob’s career, which included being the founding dean of the School of Public Health, has been marked by his interest in the innovative use of technology to improve the human condition. Barbara has been very supportive of Bob’s penchant for the early adoption of new technologies beginning in the 1970s when he bought one of the first Apple II computers, not only for personal use, but for its role in public health applications.

We recently created the Gold Public Health Innovation Competition through a $100,000 endowment gift to encourage students to apply new and emerging technologies to address public health problems and reward them with money to help launch the idea. The return to us is knowing that we are supporting ongoing student innovation in the pursuit of solving big problems.

Bill Foege, one of the most impressive people and big problem solvers we have known, is an epidemiologist and one of the architects of the global strategy to eradicate smallpox. His innovation was the concept of “ring containment theory,” modeled on what he learned fighting forest fires in the Pacific Northwest. This strategy involved inoculating only 15 percent of the population when others thought everyone needed to be vaccinated, and it worked.

He often said that we are in the 99th percentile of the world’s population in terms of wealth and educational attainment. Our greatest debt in life is to the society that has invested millions of dollars in our education-a society that has been preparing for generations for what we are now able to do.

We should do what we can to ensure this continues.

Robert S. Gold serves as Director of Educational Innovation for the School of Public Health. Two winners were announced March 28 at the inaugural Gold Public Health Innovation Competition. Ivy Benjenk Ph.D. ’19 received $3,000 for “Patient Personal Assistant with Amazon Lex Technology,” and Theresa Tassey M.P.H ’18 received $2,000 for naloxone smart kits.

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