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Alumni Donations Aid Record Number of YSPH Students

A record number of students at the Yale School of Public Health received scholarship aid in 2021, thanks in part to a generous gift from two long-time supporters of the school.

The contribution from Dr. Mary Gilbert Lawrence, M.D., M.P.H. ’98, and James A. Lawrence, YC ’74, helped the school raise more than $300,000 for its Alumni Fund, surpassing a fundraising goal for the fund that was the most ambitious in school history.

“We are grateful for the Lawrences’ ongoing support, and we hope their very generous gift will inspire other YSPH alumni to support our school during this time of tremendous financial need in higher education and of tremendous need for future leaders in public health,” said YSPH Associate Dean for Student and External Affairs Frank Grosso.

The Yale School of Public Health’s leadership in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic – and Former Dean Sten Vermund’s leadership in particular – was one of the factors that inspired the Lawrences to help the school reach its targeted scholarship fund goal.

“Jim and I are both goal-oriented. When we heard there was an amount that was needed to reach the fundraising goal for scholarships, we decided to help the YSPH make it across the finish line,” said Mary Lawrence, a 10-year member of the YSPH Leadership Council. An ophthalmologist and former faculty member at Harvard and the University of Minnesota, she has served as deputy director of the Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence in Washington D.C., president of the Minnesota Academy of Ophthalmology and president of the Association of VA Ophthalmologists.

James Lawrence is a former vice chairman of General Mills, as well as former chairman of Rothschild North America, former chief financial officer for Unilever and former Executive Vice President of Northwest Airlines. As chairman of the board at Kent School in Connecticut, he said he was greatly impressed that Vermund took the time to visit the school and help staff implement proper precautions to protect students from COVID-19 in 2020.

“Sten Vermund has done an enormously good job as dean,” he said. “He has acquired and retained the best faculty. It’s a great team. And as much as we like obtaining goals, we also like rewarding excellence.”