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Friday, July 28, 2000

Special to the Star-Bulletin
Dr. Jerome Grossman was a part of UH's School of Public
Health for more than 30 years. The lightbulb became a
hallmark of his program because he tried to focus on
new insights and new ways of thinking instead of just
accumulating information. Of the lightbulbs students
gave him over the years, this was the largest.

Career spanned
the life of

Dr. Jerome Grossman's
retirement represents the
end of an era at UH

By Helen Altonn


Dr. Jerome Grossman, at his recent retirement party, noted the irony of his career at the University of Hawaii School of Public Health.

University of Hawaii

"I was one of the first ones in, and now the last one out," he told colleagues and friends.

Many were crying, said Lynn Carey, American Red Cross community support manager, explaining that Grossman's departure from the school represents the end of an era.

"Even more so, he represents all the best qualities of a teacher, mentor, co-worker and caring public servant," Carey said.

Grossman, 75, joined the UH School of Public Health in 1966, one year after it was accredited.

Despite widespread support to retain the school, the Board of Regents approved a UH administration recommendation last year to eliminate it and fold some programs into the medical school.

The last public health graduating class received degrees in May and professors have transferred to other departments.

Grossman headed the California Health Department's Health Education Bureau after earning a doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He also was an advisor to Brazil and India with the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) before coming here.

He said the relationships he developed with Asia in forming public health schools drew him to Hawaii. He was instrumental in creating an Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health with offices at the UH.

Membership grew to 30 schools in 17 nations. Many international students attended the UH School of Public Health and became leaders in Asia, Grossman said.

"Three or four deans of schools of public health are graduates," he said.

But with the UH school's problems in the past six or seven years, management of the Asia program was transferred to Australia, he said.

"We lost that opportunity. It hasn't been fully understood how bad that was for us. It gave us a chance to provide all that leadership in Asia."

Grossman said he and his wife spend every summer doing consultant work in Asia. He stayed home this summer because of his June retirement party. Also, he still has hopes "of something happening at the university, that public health can get a foot in."

He headed the school's Health Education Program and served at various times as associate dean of academic affairs, interim chairman of the Department of Community Health Development and chairman of the doctor of public health program.

"The tragedy right now is that everybody's gone," he said. "Most of the resources, such as they were, are being used for medical school purposes."

An epidemiology section has been retained, but most community-based public health programs are out, he said.

The school once had 250 students and ranked high in international impact and community-based public health, Grossman said.

"We were very active in getting the whole Waianae Coast comprehensive health plan started, beginning almost 30 years ago." he said.

Students were trained to work in public-health projects, Grossman said.

"In the end, it became a matter of publication-centered research" rather than community-based activities, he said.

"The whole thing about where are the public-health people going to come from is an interesting issue," he added. "Either standards will have to be lowered or this will be a good market for California schools."

Charlene Young, one of Grossman's former students who now does consulting in organizational and management development, mostly in health, said, "In many ways, he was ahead of others in what they call 'community development.'"

She said he structured the health education program so "it wasn't just people talking to you" or giving out health pamphlets. Students were sent into communities to learn how people make lifestyle choices, she said.

She said this is "the human side" of health education -- an understanding of how people make changes to improve their health.

John Hayakawa, retired UH public health professor, was recruited by Grossman in 1967 when he was working in San Jose's Health Department. They had met at UC-Berkeley.

"He was a major force in the whole field of public health education," Hayakawa said.

He said when Grossman started, he had "to work within a kind of dark ages period of time with lack of understanding and acceptance of the field of public health education."

His achievements "had impact both internationally and domestically," Hayakawa said.

University of Hawaii

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