Dr. Dorothy Dunn, MSPH 1946, leaves bequest to UNC School of Public Health

October 16, 2008

The Department learned recently that Dr. Dorothy Dunn, a 1946 MSPH graduate from Health Behavior and Health Education, has left a very generous bequest to the Department.

“Establishing a scholarship for incoming doctoral students has been a critical need of the Department for many years,” said Interim Chair Jo Anne Earp. “With this extremely generous gift – more than $360,000 – we will significantly increase our ability to attract strong doctoral candidates and guarantee them support for their first year.

“I used to chat regularly with Dorothy when I visited with her in Urbana ,” Dr. Jo Anne Earp continued. “She shared fascinating stories with me of what the School was like in the ’40s. Over all the years, Dorothy prized her education at the School and the deep ties she had with us. She also gave back in so many ways. In the ’50s and ’60s, she mentored recently graduated MPHers from our program. More recently, she welcomed me and our MPH students into her home, even though she was in her 90s at that point and frail.”

Dr. Dunn had earned her BS from the University of Illinois and had spent several years in progressively more demanding positions within the Department of Agriculture. Yet a tip from a former sociology professor about the dynamic environment at UNC led her to apply to the new master’s program in Health Education.

“I would later earn my PhD from another university, completing a dissertation on the socio-economic implications of water consumption in single dwelling units,” she told an interviewer in 2000. But in the 1940s, earning a PhD wasn’t yet a goal. That ambition would have to wait for her defining experience at UNC.

With the help of a stipend from the U.S. Public Health Service, Ms. Dunn enrolled as an MSPH student, taking epidemiology courses under Dr. Milton Rosenau (founding Dean of the School) and receiving close mentoring from Dr. Lucy Morgan and Dr. Eunice “Picky” Tyler, two women mentors who would be instrumental in her decision to complete a PhD at Purdue, and then pursue academic appointments at Stout State University, Western Kentucky University, South Dakota State University, and at the University of Illinois. Dr. Dunn ended her career after a long tenure with the FDA as an Assistant Regional Director out of Chicago.

“I can say definitively,” Dr. Dunn commented several times, “that I got more out of my energy and efforts at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health than at any other school I attended.” Dr. Dunn passed away in spring 2008, but not before acting on her regard for UNC and all the possibilities her education here had opened up for her. Specifically, she left a significant bequest that will help support incoming students to the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education.

“This bequest really speaks to the meaning of Dorothy’s education here at the Schoolof Public Health,” Dr. Earp concluded. “It’s an education that doesn’t stop with the earning of the degree. The deep ties remain. I think Dr. Dunn wanted a way to recognize the opportunities she received here, and to help make those opportunities available to others. What better way of honoring a life spent in service to education and public health than to leave fellowship monies for students in a department she so admired and benefited from?”