Public Health Endowed Professorship Named to Honor President Fox
When an anonymous donor made a transformational gift of $15 million as part of The Campaign for Every Laurentian, the commitment included two fully funded endowed professorships in Public Health. It was the donor’s intent to ultimately rename the Trustee Professor in Public Health as the William L. Fox Professor of Public Health upon President Fox’s retirement in recognition of his exemplary leadership.
“President Fox and the faculty made great strides in building important new academic offerings at St. Lawrence, including those in public health,” says the anonymous alumnus. “It is fitting that this endowed professorship in public health is renamed in his honor.”
President Fox announced his plan to retire after 12 years of leading the Laurentian community. Fox will be best known for his forward-thinking approach to ensuring St. Lawrence provides a liberal arts education that opens doors and possibilities, while simultaneously being the president that put current and future St. Lawrence community members at the center of his work to ensure programs, buildings and spaces would exceed their needs.
The current public health minor has quickly grown into one of the most popular minors at St. Lawrence, with more than 40 graduates in the Class of 2021. The public health curriculum designed to help students build unexpected connections between more than 60 courses from across 20 academic departments and the public health needs worldwide. Most recently, this past spring, the St. Lawrence faculty voted in favor of creating a bachelor’s degree program in public health. The public health major was one of the recommendations of the Experience St. Lawrence Task Force, and the proposal is with the New York State Education Department for final approval.
“For us, public health is an interdisciplinary field that recognizes health as a ‘public good,’” says Associate Professor of Global Studies Madeleine Wong, who was named as co-chair of the public health program in fall 2019. “Our critical, interdisciplinary approach helps students grapple with the ways that larger political, economic and ideological structures imperil or limit health for some, while fostering it for others. Addressing these inequalities must be key to COVID-19 responses and advancing public health more broadly."
While the global COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the focus on public health, the interdisciplinary nature of the topic fits well in the University’s liberal arts core. With only a handful of other liberal arts colleges offering an undergraduate major in public health, the new program represents a unique and distinctive opportunity for St. Lawrence.
Two endowed co-chair positions were established through The Campaign for Every Laurentian. Associate Professor of Anthropology Mindy Pitre was named the J. Ansil Ramsay Professor in Public Health in STEM/Social Sciences, and Associate Professor of Global Studies Madeleine Wong was named the Trustee Professor in Public Health in the Arts, Humanities, and Interdisciplinary Studies, now the William L. Fox Professorship of Public Health.