An Enduring Legacy of Supporting Global Health Equity
Research and Therapeutics
Mavis C. Campbell, PhD, was a staunch supporter of Harvard Medical School. She became interested in the School’s work as a loyal subscriber to Harvard Health Publications, and that interest eventually blossomed into a mutually respectful and beneficial relationship. Between 2012 and 2019, she established eight charitable gift annuities (CGAs), totaling $800,000, to create and support an endowed teaching and research fund in global health and social medicine at HMS. In return, she received regular fixed income payments, portions of which were tax-free, until she died in November 2019. Her estate recently distributed an additional $1.73 million to her HMS fund.
The great importance of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine lies in its innovative, multidisciplinary, collaborative approach.
Mavis C. Campbell
Born in Jamaica, Campbell received her undergraduate degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and her PhD from the University of London. A widely published author, she taught at Hunter College before spending more than 30 years at Amherst College, retiring as professor emerita of history. She visited academic institutions worldwide, including the University of Sierra Leone in West Africa, the University of Guyana in South America, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and Wolfson College, Cambridge, in England.
Campbell’s educational background, coupled with her extensive travels, gave her a unique view of the problems facing underserved and resource-poor regions, and she strongly believed that education was fundamental to solving those problems.
According to the World Health Organization, life expectancy remains profoundly influenced by income: In 2016, it was 18.1 years lower in low-income countries (62.7 years) than in high-income countries (80.8 years).
She was particularly drawn to the humanitarian efforts of Paul Farmer, MD ’88, PhD ’90, Kolokotrones University Professor and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS. She ultimately decided to direct her gifts toward the work being done across the department, boosting its efforts to continually improve the practice of medicine, the delivery of treatment, and the development of health care policies through social science and humanities research.
Campbell once said: “The great importance of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine lies in its innovative, multidisciplinary, collaborative approach. This strategy allows practitioners to contextualize medical problems in poor countries as part of a wider set of grave social and economic issues, such as poverty, malnutrition, and lack of education. All of these issues must be addressed in tandem and followed through aggressively before development can be sustainable in these areas.”
Farmer says he has appreciated Campbell’s vision and steadfast support toward advancing global health research and education at HMS. “Support for global health programs from donors like Mavis Campbell is critical to the School’s mission of alleviating suffering and improving health and well-being for all,” he says.