Letter from the Dean
Edyth Hull Schoenrich, MD, MPH ’71
1919 – 2020
We lost a pathbreaking public health leader, mentor, and colleague Sunday when Edyth Hull Schoenrich, MD, MPH ’71, passed away at age 101. A vital part of Johns Hopkins for more than 70 years, she shaped the Bloomberg School in profound ways.
At our School, she held numerous faculty and leadership positions. And in 1977, she became the first female associate dean at Johns Hopkins University.
Edyth was, simply put, a force of nature. She embodied the mission of the School and committed her life to improving health and saving lives. Central to this commitment was the training of the next generation of public health professionals. She shaped so many lives in a very real and personal way—including my own.
A couple of years ago, I visited her to get her thoughts about a draft of the School’s strategic plan. She complimented us on all the “flowery language,” but pleaded with me not to forget that it ultimately comes down to getting things done that will make a real difference to people’s lives. Those words stuck with me and guide me in charting our course for the future.
An avid hot-air balloonist who loved floating above the Loire Valley and amongst the Swiss Alps, Edyth was dedicated to helping her students reach new heights. She summed up her advice to students in a 2005 School magazine article: “You don’t have to plan out your whole working life from beginning to end. Just start out doing your thing. Even if you don’t know where you’ll end up, you can have an exciting life. But never lose sight of your values. You should have a purpose, a passion that drives you.”
She found her passion early on. As one of only three female students in her class, she earned an MD from the University of Chicago in 1947, then completed an internal medicine internship and residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1948 to 1952, serving as chief resident in her final year.
Edyth first joined the School in 1964 as an associate and was named a full professor in 1974 in what is now the School’s Department of Health Policy and Management, where she directed the Division of Public Health Administration.
From 1969 to 1971, she was one of the School’s first part-time MPH students, riding the bus to classes from her downtown office and logging nights and holidays to maintain her full-time position as director of Maryland’s Bureau of Chronic Diseases. According to Marie Diener-West, PhD ’84, chair of the MPH Program, “Edyth was the impetus of our part-time MPH Program and was an absolute inspiration to all . But, above all, she was truly beloved for her unmistakable interest and concern for each and every student, staff, and faculty member.”
Dean D.A. Henderson named Edyth associate dean for Academic Affairs in 1977. Over the next nine years, she modernized the School’s educational programs, increased students’ clinical and practice experience, and spearheaded the transformation of the General Preventive Medicine Residency.
She capped her remarkable career by directing the part-time professional programs and serving as associate chair of the MPH Program from 1986 until 2018. Drawing on her personal experience, she helped design flexible graduate programs for working professionals.
An elected fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Preventive Medicine, Edyth was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame in 2005 and received numerous honors from Johns Hopkins, including the Ernest Lyman Stebbins Medal and the Golden Apple teaching award. The School established the Edyth Schoenrich Professorship in Preventive Medicine and the Edyth Schoenrich Scholarship to honor her work and legacy.
Edyth was married for 60 years to Carlos Schoenrich, whom she met while studying psychology at Duke University. Edyth is survived by her two children, Lola Schoenrich and Olaf Schoenrich.
We offer our deepest condolences to Edyth’s family, friends, and colleagues. The School is organizing a tribute to Edyth and her legacy.
Thank you, Edyth, for a life well lived. You will be missed but always remembered.
Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD ’79, ScM ’75
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor