The Global Health Leadership Institute, founded by Elizabeth Bradley in 2009, will lose its funding from the Provost’s Office and integrate into the School of Public Health after the end of the University’s fiscal year on June 30.
The loss of funding from the Provost’s Office will leave the institute unable to pay staff members with no other affiliation to the University except through the program, and several employees were given layoff notices, according to Bradley.
“By no means are we closing GHLI, but we are considering what its brand should be going forward, since the ‘L’ — leadership — is so very strongly tied to Professor Bradley and her work,” said Sten Vermund, dean of the School of Public Health. “On the one hand, GHLI is very familiar and high profile; on the other hand, I have not yet had time to fully consult with GHLI staff or other global health folks at the School of Public Health and other schools within the University to consider whether the brand should evolve.”
The institute, which is not housed within a specific department and instead coordinates global health research across different parts of the University, is currently funded by the Provost’s Office, external grants and donations.
GHLI was created as a part of the Global Health Initiative, introduced by former University President Richard Levin GRD ’74 and then-Provost Peter Salovey in 2009 to promote global health research and education at Yale. Bradley, who will leave Yale this summer to become the president of Vassar College, led the initiative and served as the faculty director for GHLI since the program’s founding.
“Yale as a university has invested in and created a tremendous brand in global health leadership over the last seven years,” Bradley said. “I hope that as GHLI shifts to the School of Public Health, it will continue to benefit from the participation of the broader environment of Yale.”
The first effort of the GHLI was holding annual conferences, but over time the institute grew through external grant support for faculty and student work, Bradley said. The funds from the Provost’s Office supported staff members who worked only in the GHLI, handling interdepartmental coordination, communications and contracting, among other duties.
University Provost Ben Polak did not respond to a request for comment.
Robert Alpern, dean of the School of Medicine, said he will be meeting with Dean of the School of Nursing Ann Kurth and Vermund this week to determine how to continue Yale’s global health program and “make it even more robust.” He added that the funding for any new initiative will be coming from the three schools and that the deans do not intend to ask for the Provost’s support.
Vermund said the group wants to continue working on the research elements of GHLI and hopes to have a resolution by mid-May. He added that since the research will have to be funded by the schools themselves, he and Kurth are already making new investments to support it and that Alpern is considering doing the same.
“I think that once there is a meeting of the minds of the three health science deans and the provost,” he said, “you’ll see a continuing entity that serves as an organizational umbrella for health sciences research endeavors, including GHLI, Global Health at Yale, Yale New Haven Health System and perhaps other entities that would welcome a strong collaborative and nurturant culture of coordination and facilitation.”
He added that with the integration of GHLI into the School of Public Health, the institute’s research portfolio will be better aligned with the research done by the School of Public Health and the Yale School of Medicine, where many of the institute’s faculty hold their appointments.
Michael Skonieczny, executive director of the institute, said global health at Yale will be different moving forward, adding that the University needs some centralized global health program.
“To foster interdepartmental collaborations, you need a central program that brings together and provides support to faculty to do innovative research in global health,” he said.
Other faculty members affiliated with the GHLI echoed the need for a centralized program.
School of Medicine professor Asghar Rastegar said GHLI connected various faculty members with groups in lower-middle–income communities and supported human capacity building projects in those communities. While he said that GHLI’s model is not the only one that could be successful for interdepartmental collaboration, Yale still needed such programs to bring faculty members together.
“From my vantage point, these collaborative projects have been critical to the development of global health in the clinical departments,” he said. “Given the interdepartmental nature of global health as an academic pursuit, I hope Yale is able to build on the success of GHLI and continue to foster and support collaboration among faculty in different departments.”
Professor of pediatrics James Leckman said GHLI’s conferences were crucial in the formation of Yale’s Early Childhood Peace Consortium in partnership with UNICEF and other multisectorial partners. GHLI, he added, also supported Yale summer interns in Lebanon, Brazil and Colombia.
Leckman said he was “surprised and disappointed” to hear that Yale will no longer be funding the Institute, but his interactions with Vermund left him optimistic, he said.
“I was impressed, and I was so pleased that he is clearly committed to Yale having remain on the global stage with regard to public health,” Leckman said. “So I am optimistic that some version of the GHLI will continue for years to come.”
Paul Cleary, a public health professor and the former dean of the School of Public Health, said that the School of Public Health had strong collaborations with faculty at various professional schools at Yale and he was certain it will continue collaborating with them. He added that he was certain that Yale will continue being a world leader in global health, since both Vermund and Kurth are internationally known for their global health research.
The Yale School of Public Health was founded in 1915.