Milken Institute School of Public Health Announces Fitzhugh Mullan Professor of Health Workforce Equity

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 11, 2020) — The Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University today announced Patricia (Polly) Pittman, PhD, will be the first Fitzhugh Mullan Professor of Health Workforce Equity. Pittman, a professor of health policy and management at Milken Institute SPH and director of the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity (Mullan Institute), will be officially installed in the professorship at a ceremony to be held at Milken Institute SPH today.

Pittman is a renowned expert in health workforce issues and policy, conducting research on health systems, recruitment of health professionals, and workforce innovations. Pittman co-founded the GW Health Workforce, which is now known as the Mullan Institute, with the late Fitzhugh Mullan, MD, to further research and education in the area of health workforce equity. The Institute was renamed in April 2019 to honor Mullan, a professor of health policy and management and pediatrics at GW’s Milken Institute SPH and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). Mullan, a public health pioneer revered for his lifelong commitment to social justice, health equity and health workforce policies, died last November.

“I am honored to be installed into this professorship and to continue our work calling attention to the importance of the health workforce as an essential mechanism for addressing health equity,” Pittman said. “During these times of global disease threats, policymakers suddenly remember how important the people who deliver care are. Our work is to keep the focus on the workforce, and to critically examine which policies and programs are helping to ensure that health workers have the opportunity, competencies and the courage to address the needs of the least advantaged populations.”

The Fitzhugh Mullan Professor of Health Workforce Equity is a professorship made possible by a $3 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies. This professorship will advance the initiatives of the Mullan Institute, conduct research aimed at strengthening health workforce equity in the United States and around the world, and collaborate with faculty and students at Milken Institute SPH, SMHS, GW’s School of Nursing and across GW. 

“Thanks to The Atlantic Philanthropies’ continued support, this professorship allows us to build on our research and work toward solutions for health disparities at home and across the world,” said Lynn R. Goldman, MD, MS, MPH, the Michael and Lori Milken Dean of Milken Institute SPH. “I cannot think of a more qualified person to install as this professor than Polly Pittman, who has worked tirelessly to build a stronger health workforce.” 

The endowed professorship was part of a $10.1 million award from The Atlantic Philanthropies granted to the Mullan Institute in October 2019 to amplify its mission to advance and promote health equity issues on a global scale. The award also strengthens the Beyond Flexner Alliance, an organization focused on efforts to integrate social justice into education and medical practice, and the Atlantic Fellows for Heath Equity program, which develops global leaders to understand and address health disparities. The Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity program was established by an initial $25 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies. 

“We’re excited about Polly’s leadership at the Mullan Institute.  We are witnessing today, in immediate and personal ways, the significance of a strong health workforce dedicated to the most vulnerable among us,” said Christopher G. Oechsli, president and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies. “Polly brings the evidence, experience and values that will underpin this critical effort.”

In 2018, The Atlantic Philanthropies welcomed the Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity into the global Atlantic Fellows Program, which encompasses seven programs operating across five continents. More than 250 fellows participate annually in the programs that work toward fairer, healthier, more inclusive societies. The Atlantic Philanthropies committed nearly $700 million to support the work of the global network of Atlantic Fellows over the next 20 years.

The installation ceremony will be held in the auditorium of the Milken Institute School of Public Health today at 3 p.m. A reception will follow.
For more information on the Mullan Institute, click here.