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Dean Finnegan writes about the business of public health

on June 12, 2011 School and Tags: , with 0 comments

John R. Finnegan, Jr.

Dear Friends,

The title and focus of our cover story on the “business” of public health are sure to make some of you uncomfortable. I hope you will take the time to read and understand what it takes to run a $100 million-plus research and education enterprise, because I think you will be impressed by our ability to be entrepreneurial and thrive in the face of major economic challenges.

As this magazine goes to press, the state Legislature is moving into a special session to address a multi-billiondollar budget deficit, which has significant financial implications for the University of Minnesota and the School of Public Health. The federal picture is only slightly less bleak, with proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health and other agencies that are major sources of funding for the school.

We must, I believe, adopt a philosophy of abundance whereby we look for new partners and new approaches to continue advancing our mission. If we do the opposite and adopt a scarcity mentality—raise the drawbridge and draw our arms fearfully around a shrinking set of resources—we set ourselves on a downward spiral toward mediocrity. We cannot and will not take that course. The answers we are unlocking through our research and through the leaders we are grooming in our education programs are vital to the health and well-being of the population of this state, this country, and our world.

We expect to expand our efforts in the realm of private philanthropy and partner ships. We will look for collaborators in new and unexpected corners of the University and beyond. We will pursue what might previously have been considered “outside the box” funding opportunities on a national and global basis. And we will look to new and existing donors to help support our students. All of this is exciting and, I must admit, a little unnerving.

So, while more than ever we are operating with a strategic mentality, I can think of no better “business” to be in: creating new knowledge, ushering in a new generation of leaders, and making good on our promise to improve health. Thank you for your support of this most important cause. .

Yours in health,

John R. Finnegan, Jr., PhD
Assistant Vice President for Public Health
Dean and Professor

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