Columbia University School of Public Health Office of the Dean records, 1945 - 2007

Descriptive Identification

Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library,
701 W. 168th Street
HHSC LL1-111
New York, NY 10032
Archives & Special Collections
23.25 cubic feet
(55 boxes)
Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health. Office of the Dean
Records from the Office of the Dean, Columbia University School of Public Health, predominantly spanning the deanships of Robert J. Weiss (1980-1985) and Allan Rosenfield (1986-2008). Includes correspondence, reports, minutes, agendas, appointment books, class rosters and other records relating to students, memoranda, meeting minutes, budgets, television appearances recorded to videotape, programs, brochures, manuscripts, drafts, publications and other printed material documenting the operations of the School of Public Affairs Dean's office, along with speeches, conference materials, articles, presentations, slides, and other materials from Dean Rosenfield's professional career outside his deanship.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Columbia University. School of Public Health Office of the Dean records, Archives & Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, Columbia University.

Access Restriction

Closed to researchers for 25 years from date of creation. Records revealing protected student information are restricted under the provisions of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Personnel and search committee records are closed for 25 years from date of death of employee or third party.

Use Restriction

Some digital and analog media is closed until preservation copies/digital transfers created.

Biographical/Historical Commentary

Columbia first established a school dedicated to the field of public health with the founding of the DeLamar Institute of Public Health by the University Trustees in May 1921, with Haven Emerson appointed as its Director. Instruction began in September 1922 and the granting of the Master of Science in Public Health degree was authorized by the Columbia University Trustees in 1926. The Institute was eventually renamed the School of Public Health on July 1, 1945. The name changed three more times: the School of Public Health and Administrative Medicine (July 1, 1955); the School of Public Health (circa 1973); and the Mailman School of Public Health (1998); in memory of the businessman Joseph L. Mailman, whose charitable foundation bestowed a $33 million gift to the School.

With the renaming of the School in 1973, the curriculum broadened to include advanced and specialized studies through doctoral and dual-degree programs (MPH/MBA, MPH/MS in urban planning, MPH/MS in Social Work; MPH/MS in nursing; MPH/MD, MPH/DDS). The PhD programs in epidemiology and biostatistics were introduced, along with the Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.), in addition to the established M.P.H. and M.S. degrees. At the time of these records, the School was organized into the following divisions: Biostatistics; Environmental Sciences; Epidemiology; Health Administration; Population and Family Health; and Tropical Medicine.

Robert J. Weiss became the first full dean of the school in 1980; previously it had been directed by an associate dean of the medical faculty. After resigning in 1985, Allan Rosenfield served as long-running dean (1986-2008). Bernard Challenor (1978-1980) and Stephen Wotman (1985-1986) also served as acting deans. Until Dean Weiss, heads of the school held the titles “Assistant Dean for Public Health” or “Director.”

Weiss was born in West New York, New Jersey on December 9, 1917. A psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry, professor of social medicine and Director of the Center for Community Health Systems, he received a BA degree from George Washington University (1947) and MD from the Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons (1951). He practiced psychiatry and returned to Columbia in 1975 as Professor of both Psychiatry and Social Medicine for the Community Health Systems. The Center for Community Health Systems was established in 1972 as an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental group from the Faculty of Medicine.

In 1980, Weiss was named Director of the Centers for Community Health--composed of the Center for Health Services Research and Collaborative Program in Oral Health with the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, and not to be confused with the Center for Community Health Systems. He was concurrently appointed Associate Dean for Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine and the DeLamar Professor of Public Health Practice (1980-1985). Weiss is credited with increasing enrollment and funded research at the school, and the feasibility study which led to the merger of St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals in 1979.

Allan Rosenfield, the son of Harold Rosenfield, a prominent obstetrician/gynecologist, was born on April 28, 1933 in Boston, Massachusetts. He received a BA (1955) in biochemistry from Harvard, and MD (1959) from the Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1962, following an internship and a one year surgical residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Rosenfield served two years with the US Air Force in Korea and the Hamilton Air Force Hospital in California before undertaking special obstetrics/gynecology training at the Boston Hospital for Women.

Starting in 1966, Rosenfield spent several years living abroad, including one year in Lagos, Nigeria, teaching obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Lagos Medical School, and six years in Thailand as a representative of the Population Council and medical adviser to the Thai Ministry of Public Health on maternal and child health and family planning issues. He returned to America in 1973 where he continued to work for the Population Council as the Director of the Child Health/Family Planning Program until 1975, when he joined Columbia University as Professor of Public Health and Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Director of the Center for Population and Family Health (CPFH). He was the first Director of the Center until 1986, when he became the Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health.

Established in 1975 and funded in part by US AID, the CPFH had a multidisciplinary staff whose purpose was the “design, execution, and evaluation of the delivery of low-cost family planning and other basic health services to the vast rural village and burgeoning suburban slum populations of the developing world and, to the extent that similar needs exist, to the socially disadvantaged inner city populations of New York and the major metropolises of the economically ‘developed’ countries”;[2] Not to be confused with the Division of Population and Family Health of the School of Public Health--their activities did overlap--the Center focused on international activities while the Division focused on teaching.

CPFH was administratively managed under the International Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction. According to the Combined annual report of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, December 31, 1978, IISHR consisted of two centers: the CPFH, directed by Allan Rosenfield; and the Center for Reproductive Sciences, directed by Dr. Georgiana Jagiello. The Center for Reproductive Sciences was comprised of an interdisciplinary group of P&S faculty and staff.

Rosenfield sat on many committees and boards. He was president of the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). He also served as Chair of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) Program Board (circa 2005-2006). AmfAR was founded in 1985 through the merger of the AIDS Medical Foundation, headed by Mailman School Adjunct Professor Mathilde Krim, and the AIDS National Research Foundation, funded by American actors Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.

Rosenfield was known as a global leader in the promotion of reproductive healthcare and the prevention of HIV/AIDS. He was intrinsically involved in the development and publication of The FIGO Manual of Human Reproduction, the family planning manual developed to assist in obstetrical and gynecological education. The first iteration of the manual came out of FIGO’s Committee on Medical Aspects of Human Reproduction, headed by Howard C. Taylor, Jr., and the Population Council. In 1975 it was published as a series of lectures and slides in three volumes and distributed freely to medical schools in developing countries. Rosenfield was a student of Taylor and carried on the development of the Manual, resulting in the 1990 edition published with Mahmoud F. Fathalla as co-editor; with support from the Columbia University Center for Population and Family Health, the World Health Organization, and International Planned Parenthood Federation; and funded by the UN Population Fund, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

In 2006 the School of Public Health building on Columbia’s Washington Heights campus was named by the Columbia University Trustees for Dean Rosenfield. The building was formerly occupied by the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dean Rosenfield retired in 2008 and died soon after on October 12th of that year after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Scope and Content

Correspondence, reports, minutes, agendas, correspondence, appointment books, class rosters and other records relating to students, memoranda, meeting minutes, budgets, television appearances recorded to videotape, programs, brochures, manuscripts, drafts, publications and other printed material document the operations of the School of Public Affairs Dean’s office, along with speeches, conference materials, articles, presentations, slides, and other materials from Dean Rosenfield’s professional career outside of his deanship.

  • I. Early General Records, 1945-1970.
  • II. Subject Files, 1950-2007.
  • III. Chronological Correspondence, 1986-2005.
  • IV. Rosenfield Personal Papers, 1950-1992.
  • V. Audiovisual Materials, 1992-2006.

Related Material

The Center for Population and Family Health records, 1967-1986 (bulk 1975-1986).

Components List

  • Early general records, 1945 - 1970

    Scope and Content:

    Student transcripts, degree program applications for joint courses in architecture or nursing with the School of Public Health, Inter-American Affairs office records, and correspondence for “G” (1952-1953) comprise this series. The bulk are records relating to students and closed for 25 years after date of last attendance for deceased individuals, or 100 years from last date of attendance if death unknown.

  • Subject files, 1950 - 2007

    Scope and Content:

    The largest of the series, this material is arranged into three subseries, as originally organized by the Dean’s office, these files contain correspondence, minutes, reports, printed materials, programs, and other records reflecting the routine business of the Dean, along with special projects and meetings. Student and personnel records are restricted accordingly. Search committees records may also be restricted due to third party privacy. The subseries may overlap by date and topic.

    • Deans Weiss and Rosenfield, 1950 - 1997

      Scope and Content:

      Includes minutes, agendas, correspondence, class rosters, memos, reports, and other materials regarding students, degree programs, courses, conduct, research and other departmental issues, affiliation with other centers and institutes, computer systems, student affairs and admissions, faculty affairs, school budgets, bylaws and committees. Contains correspondence and minutes for the Public Health School Assembly, the body composed of faculty and students to advise and address issues with the School.

      Of note is a folder from the Integrated Academic Information Management System (IAIMS) self-study report (September 27 1984), contracted from the National Library of Medicine in order to study the future of medicine’s dependence on computer systems. Three separate committees, the Blue Sky Committee, User Needs Committee, and Technological Capabilities Committee, were set up in January and February of 1984 to carry out these self-studies, and the three chapters of this report represent their efforts Another related project is the found in the IBM/School of Public Health Joint Study Project for the development of a comprehensive administrative information system (1984).

      Some folders may contain material that pre-dates or post-dates the tenures of Deans Weiss and Rosenfield, but this sub-series represent the office’s record keeping system.

      Arranged alphabetically.

    • Dean Allan Rosenfield, 1965 - 1993

      Scope and Content:

      Includes material similar to the previous subseries, such as minutes, agendas, correspondence, memos, reports, and other materials regarding degree programs, courses, conduct, facility space, research and other departmental issues, affiliation with other centers and institutes, student affairs and admissions, faculty affairs, school budgets, bylaws and committees. Contains correspondence and minutes for the Public Health School Assembly, Policy Advisory Committee, and Steering Committee. Of note is a history project of the School, undertaken by Samuel Wolfe and Annette Ramirez (1990-1992).

      Arranged alphabetically.

    • Dean Allan Rosenfield: A-C, 1993 - 2007

      Scope and Content:

      Includes newspapers clippings, programs, correspondence, journal articles, reports, minutes, and other materials regarding topics, particularly regarding AIDS, abortion, and reproductive health. This material was collected by Rosenfield and the Dean’s office, and authored by him and the office, along with the CDC, World Health Organization, and other research institutions. Includes Mailman School of Public Health Board of Advisors and Board of Overseers meeting minutes. Files arranged in approximate alphabetical order, lacking D-Z.

      Topics relating to AIDS contain printed-out emails, journal articles, reports by local (NYC Dept. of Health) and international (UN) organizations reporting on the status of the research, spread, and treatment of the disease. Of note is a file documenting the Mailman School sponsored talk by South African AIDS activist Zackie Achmat, held November 10, 2003. Also of note is the grant proposal for the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, initially a 5-year project awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). The principal investigator was Anke A. Ehrhardt with co-investigators Zena Stein and Robert Spitzer.

      The subseries also documents the School of Public Health’s AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) with committee minutes and site visit reports, and its collaboration with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s Center for Continuing and Outreach Education, Division of AIDS Education (UMDNJ-CCOE), and the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). This subseries contains several folders of amfAR material.

      Records relating to the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) include Dean Rosenfield’s statement as president-elect of the ASPH on behalf of the ASPH before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee in support of the Health Professions Education Consolidation and Reauthorization Act of 1995.

      Beginning in 1990, the Dean’s office initiated a book project for the history of the School of Public Health, written by SPH faculty member Samuel Wolfe, and Annette Ramirez, Associate Dean at the School of Health Sciences, Hunter College, CUNY. These files contain correspondence, research material and drafts by Wolfe and Ramirez. Ramirez presented their paper, “Flexnerian Prescription and Columbia University: 1914-1916” at the American Association for the History of Medicine in Cleveland on May 3, 1991.

      Arranged alphabetically.

  • Chronological correspondence, 1986 - 2005

    Scope and Content:

    Routine incoming and outgoing correspondence, both internal and external (other universities, scholars, government offices) regarding programs, faculty, centers (i.e., Population and Family Health), recommendations, invitation to events, and conferences. Many non-Columbia topics include the fields of family planning research and FIGO (Fédération Internationale de Gynécologie et d’Obstétrique).

    Includes Rosenfield’s letter to President Michael I. Sovern June 16, 1987, stating the School of Public Health’s goal to expand the Community Health Education program, in cooperation with the community groups, “with particular attention to the AIDS epidemic.” May contain some confidential faculty information (i.e., salary increase requests), alumni dinners, advisory committees, and various reports.

  • Rosenfield personal papers, 1950 - 1992

    Scope and Content:

    This series contains materials created by Allan Rosenfield either pre-dating his deanship or those relating to his professional career not specific to the operations of the Office of the Dean.

    • Appointment books, 1970 - 1975

      Scope and Content:

      Rosenfield’s personal appointment books, recording his activities prior to his deanship.

    • Meetings, 1987 - 1991

      Scope and Content:

      Includes programs, schedules, travel information, correspondence, manuscripts, notes and other material documenting meetings, symposia, panels, and other events attended by Rosenfield.

      Arranged in chronological order.

    • Speeches, presentations, and articles, 1973 - 1992

      Scope and Content:

      Includes academic papers and presentations given at professional meetings, often co-authored by Rosenfield and others. Papers and articles are found as drafts, manuscripts, typescripts, offprints, and journals pages. Material documenting development of the FIGO manual includes publishing contracts, copyright agreements, and illustrations in the form of prints, slides, and transparencies. Arranged in original order.

    • Slides and ephemera, 1950-1970s

      Scope and Content:

      Contains 35 mm color slides with paper mounts, depicting work in Thailand, and presentations regarding reproductive health and population growth. Some slides labeled “Taiwan,” “Coppert,” “MCH – Thailand,” and “Potharam.” Includes one folder of personal items, such as Rosenfield’s blood donor card (1954).

  • Audiovisual materials, 1992 - 2006

    Scope and Content:

    Bulk consist of video recordings of news programs featuring Rosenfield and other Public Health professors and administrators. Some characterized as nationally broadcast television programs. Copies of the programs were recorded on VHS, created by various videotape services or amateur recordings. The series also includes three cassette tapes with recordings from radio programs featuring Rosenfield and others.