Alumni Life

On a Mission

For the unstoppable Arthur Goshin, retirement is but a launchpad for his next big ideas

The Johnson Nkosi HIV/AIDS Orphan Primary School in Mpoma, Uganda, is a grass-roots project organized by seven village women. Goshin provided a nurse, a dispensary, bed nets, safe water, latrines, athletic fields and all expenses for some of the kids, including those in this photo.

By Julie Wesolowski

“I knew that I was intending to shape my third career...I felt there was additional meaningful work that I needed to accomplish to fulfill my personal sense of social obligation.”
Arthur R. Goshin (MD ’70, BS ’66)

When Arthur R. Goshin (MD ’70, BS ’66) was 13, he decided he wanted to be a doctor. “I believe it was a combination of the book ‘The Microbe Hunters’ and the life of Albert Schweitzer [a noted medical missionary] that motivated me,” he says. “I had no family members involved in health care. My life image then was that I would be a clinician in some isolated global setting.”

But the year before starting med school, Goshin got a job working for the Commonwealth Service Corps in Springfield, Mass. There, while doing follow-ups on the health of 400 families relocated out of slum housing, he learned the basics of applied community-based public health. “Visiting with these families was a critical revelation for me,” he says—and one that changed the course of his life.

After completing his medical degree, Goshin became assistant health commissioner for Erie County, where he developed three clinics in underserved Buffalo communities. While serving in this role, he also managed to obtain a degree in public health from the University of Michigan and, having become interested in the then-relatively new concept of HMOs, to secure a federal grant that helped him start Univera Healthcare. After 27 years as president and CEO of what would ultimately become a giant health care and health insurance program serving more than a half-million members in New York State, he retired in 2003.

Most people, following such a busy and successful career, might tend to focus on hobbies and family (Goshin, who lives with his wife of 48 years, has two sons and three grandchildren). Not Goshin. “I knew that I was intending to shape my third career,” he says. “I felt there was additional meaningful work that I needed to accomplish to fulfill my personal sense of social obligation.”

Goshin describes his “third career” as a three-fold enterprise, composed of global work, academic initiatives and community-based foundations. Shortly after retirement, he became a board trustee for Freedom from Hunger, a global nonprofit organization that focuses on self-help services for women, the primary caretakers of children, to fight chronic hunger and poverty. He then started an affiliate program in Uganda and, a year later, helped secure a $6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to assist Freedom from Hunger projects in India, Bolivia, Benin, Burkina Faso and the Philippines.

In 2006 Goshin created his own organization, HealthyWorld Foundation, to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in India and Uganda lead healthier lives. He personally provides all the funding for projects ranging from establishing clinics to running programs for disabled children, implementing cancer screening initiatives and more. He has also supported urgently needed interventions for cholera outbreaks and projects for dealing with local impacts of environmental hazards.

Meanwhile, he continues to be active as a clinical professor in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, and is an adjunct professor of oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In 2011, Goshin founded UB’s Office of Global Health Initiatives, which serves as a connector between students interested in developing careers in global health and UB faculty doing related research in the field.

Goshin also became the trustee of two community not-for-profit entities, the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York (HFWCNY), a $100-million foundation that works to improve health care outcomes in vulnerable communities in upstate New York; and Metropolitan Jewish Health System, a New York City-based geriatric care organization and foundation, where he now serves as the parent organization’s board chair.

These days, Goshin divides his time between Santa Fe, N.M. (where HealthyWorld is based) and New York, spending about one month a year in Uganda and India, and making periodic visits to Buffalo to check in at UB and HFWCNY. When he’s not addressing the needs of others, he can be found writing poetry; he has completed a book of poetry a year since turning 60, and is currently working on his ninth book.