Honoring Gaylord W. Anderson Award recipients
Shortly before Robert Hiller passed away in August, SPH dean John Finnegan visited him at his home. He told him that he had received the Gaylord W. Anderson Leadership Award, a singular tribute for an SPH graduate who has made an enduring impact on the field of public health.
At the 2011 Alumni and Friends Scholarship Gala, Finnegan presented the award, named for the school’s first dean, to Noreen Hiller on behalf of her late husband. He told the crowd of Hiller’s extraordinary work to create, as special assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health, the state’s first public health system that fully integrated local public health agencies. Hiller’s success led to the landmark piece of legislation, the Community Health Services Act of 1976.
“Robert’s honesty and respect for people were hallmarks of his leadership style,” said Finnegan. “He was a keen listener who was able to synthesize complex information and then act on it. And he encouraged people to leave their turf issues at the door.”
Finnegan honored another Gaylord W. Anderson Leadership Award winner that night, Bernard Harlow. After receiving his MPH in epidemiology, Harlow completed his doctorate and went to Harvard, where he served as a faculty member for 18 years. “Six years ago, I decided it was time for Bernie to come home,” said Finnegan. Harlow returned to SPH to head the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health and to build on its long tradition as one of the best groups of its kind in the world.
While engendering an enormous amount of quality research, Harlow also encourages others and allows them to shine. He has a history of offering students first authorship of co-written papers and has mentored dozens of students and junior faculty members.
“We might want to attribute Bernie’s seemingly endless supply of energy to a healthy life, full of good eating habits and physical activity,” Finnegan said. “But I would argue that a desire to make a difference is at the core of what drives him. And he does it all with a kind-hearted, compassionate leadership that embodies the legacy of Gaylord Anderson.”