Michael and Lori Milken Create $6 Million Endowment Funding Two Professorships, One Honors Dean Lynn R. Goldman

Longtime public health advocates broaden their investment at namesake GW school.

January 8, 2024

Michael Milken

Michael Milken, a top GW benefactor, onstage at a university event in New York City.

After decades of participation in these celebrations, Lynn R. Goldman, the Michael and Lori Milken Dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, thought she knew exactly what to expect at George Washington University’s 2023 Commencement on the National Mall.

However, she “could not have been more surprised” when one of GW’s top financial supporters Michael Milken, HON '23, and then-President Mark S. Wrighton pulled her from the faculty procession to share some exciting news: Milken and his wife, Lori, were endowing two public health professorships—and naming one after her.

“It was very sweet and kind of shocking,” Goldman said. “It’s not something I have aspired to, but it’s an honor, and I deeply appreciate it.”

The Lynn R. Goldman Professorship and the Michael and Lori Milken Professorship will provide support for two faculty positions at the Milken Institute SPH, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

“Michael and Lori Milken are visionary philanthropists who have made a transformational impact on public health,” said GW President Ellen M. Granberg. “With their partnership, our Milken Institute School of Public Health is a world-class leader in academic public health. I am grateful for their continued support and particularly pleased that they are choosing to invest in our faculty who are creating a healthier, more equitable world.”

Michael Milken, named one of the “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century” by “Esquire" magazine, has long been recognized as an innovator in access to capital, medical research, education and public health. Improving lives around the world by enhancing health is a key part of his Milken Institute’s mission.

Milken, who received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from GW in May, called Goldman “an inspirational leader.”

“Despite her important responsibilities–—teaching, recruiting, fundraising, writing peer-reviewed articles, speaking on Capitol Hill, chairing the Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health—she’s never too busy to counsel a student or meet with parents of a prospective student,” Milken said. “The fact that ‘Fortune’ magazine named the Milken Institute School of Public Health the nation’s best online graduate program in the field is a great testament to the success of Lynn’s efforts.”

Goldman’s partnership with Milken dates back a decade to when the Milken Institute and Milken Family Foundation made their record-breaking philanthropic donation to GW. Goldman recalls fondly sharing with Milken a “very exciting vision for GW’s School of Public Health.”

Through the Milken Institute, the Milken Family Foundation and the Michael and Lori Milken Family Foundation, the Milkens are GW’s biggest benefactors, jointly donating $80 million, along with the Sumner M. Redstone Charitable Foundation, in 2014 to advance research, fund scholarships and create a global center for prevention and wellness. These combined commitments are GW’s largest to date.

President Emeritus Wrighton, Michael Milken, Lynn Goldman
President Emeritus Mark Wrighton (l), Michael Milken (c) and Milken Institute SPH Dean Lynn Goldman gather behind the stage at GW's 2023 Commencement on the National Mall.

The school was renamed the Milken Institute School of Public Health, and Goldman was installed as the Michael and Lori Milken Dean the next year. The two public health professorships are the Milkens’ first contribution supporting faculty positions at GW.

“I’ve always believed that human capital—the skills and experience of people—is the world’s most valuable asset,” Milken said. “In business, the quality of management far exceeds the value of factories and equipment. In public health education, the quality of the faculty is the most important asset and endowed professorships are key to recruiting and retaining the finest talent. We’re delighted to have played a role in helping attract the best researchers, teachers and mentors for GW students.”

Both professorships tapped matching funds from GW, a historic investment by the university designed to significantly increase research and teaching within the broader academic medicine enterprise. In September 2022, GW announced it would direct proceeds from the university's partnership interest in GW Hospital to fund endowed professorships supporting the academic medical enterprise, including public health.

“The Milkens have transformed GW’s ability to unlock actionable solutions to complex public health issues that improve countless lives,” said Donna Arbide, GW’s vice president for development and alumni relations. “Our outstanding faculty, including Dean Goldman, are the very foundation of our excellence. I thank the Milkens for recognizing and rewarding the cutting-edge research, teaching prowess and community action of our public health professors.”

Pediatrician and epidemiologist Goldman joined GW in 2010 as dean of the public health school and a professor of environmental health. A renowned expert in pediatric environmental health and chemicals and pesticides policy, Goldman translates research into policy and has testified many times before Congress on federal pesticide and chemical legislation.

Former President Bill Clinton appointed Goldman to lead the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances of the Environmental Protection Agency, where she helped achieve passage of the groundbreaking 1996 Food Quality Protection Act that codified into law the requirement that regulations must also address risks to children and other vulnerable populations, not just average healthy adult males.

”It helped to kick off an entire sea change of how people do environmental health research,” Goldman noted. “It’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my career.”

The endowed professorship is a fitting tribute for Goldman, whose stellar career has earned her numerous accolades, said Barbara Bass, RESD ‘86, dean of GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, professor of surgery, Walter A. Bloedorn Chair of Administrative Medicine, vice president for health affairs and CEO of the GW Medical Faculty Associates.

“Named professorships are among the highest honors in academia, and we deeply appreciate the Milkens’ support of both of these positions,” Bass said. “While the Milken Institute School of Public Health name is a hallmark of excellence, it’s particularly heartwarming that they chose to honor Dr. Goldman this way. She is a true trailblazer in public health, and this is testament to her impressive contributions to the field.”

More than an administrator, Goldman is a “powerhouse in public health and as an advocate for GW students,” said Public Health Student Association President Radha Vakkalagadda, an M.P.H. candidate in health promotion. “What strikes me the most is her unabated passion, especially in supporting students and amplifying the vibrant student voice here at Milken Institute SPH.”

Learn more about how you can support GW faculty and leverage a remarkable opportunity to amplify investments in endowed professorships within GW’s academic medical enterprise by contacting the Office of the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at 202-994-1058 or [email protected].