Gift of $3M will fund new chair in LGBTQ+ Health at Rutgers

A gift of $3 million from James Dougherty, a Rutgers University alumnus and longtime supporter of the university, will fund the Perry N. Halkitis Endowed Chair in LGBTQ+ Public Health, a new position at the School of Public Health that has been unanimously approved by the board of governors.

Halkitis, who in addition to serving as dean holds the roles of Hunterdon Professor of Public Health and Health Equity, and distinguished professor of biostatistics and epidemiology, praised Dougherty’s generosity.

“The endowed chairship in LGBTQ+ Public Health is a commitment to the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people and populations by supporting research, academic excellence and community engagement in this area,” Halkitis said.

Halkitis is also the founder and director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies.

Dougherty said his motivation for making the gift is to support an emphasis on LGBTQ+ health at Rutgers long into the future. He said he chose to name the endowed chair after Halkitis, who began as dean in 2017, because Halkitis has been a tremendous leader.

“My hope is that there will always be a champion for LGBTQ+ rights and public health continuing on in the mold that Perry has established,” he said.

Dougherty said he has been planning the gift for several years and feels that, in light of a rise in transphobia, homophobia and hate in general across the country, the timing is fortuitous.

“It’s happening at a time when I think it’s very needed,” he said.

In addition to Dougherty’s gift of $3 million, Rutgers Health Chancellor Brian Strom is devoting an additional $2 million to support the new chair. The new position, Strom said, will be key in launching the planned Rutgers Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health, which has been envisioned by Halkitis and his collaborator, Gloria Bachmann of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The proposed institute will serve as a comprehensive, state-of-the-art academic, research and clinical coordination center for LGBTQ+ populations, but also for facilitating the development of public policy for the health of LGBTQ+ people and populations.

“Dr. Dougherty’s gift is a major step toward our goal of ensuring that Rutgers remains a leader in LGBTQ+ health needs,” Strom said.