This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Univera founder to direct UB office

Univera founder, UB alumnus and adjunct faculty member Arthur Goshin has started a new career as director of the School of Public Health and Health Profession’s new Office of Global Initiatives.

  • “With cutbacks in state funding for UB, it seemed unlikely that the SPHHP would be able to identify resources to create the office, so I decided to help with both my time and some resources.”

    Arthur Goshin
    Director, Office of Global Health Initiatives
Published: October 6, 2011

Arthur Goshin, BS ’66 & MD ’70, gets things done.

He spent the summer before starting medical school in Springfield, Mass., surveying the health of 400 families relocated by an urban renewal project with a physician who was later a celebrated New York City health commissioner. He also helped organize local field-training placements there for a hurried, two-week training program for 90 Peace Corps volunteers headed for India.

So he entered medical school at UB, at age 20, with an interest in public health and a newly discovered talent as an organizer. It was 1966.

Goshin was the leader of the Student Health Organization; he says they were “progressive.” The group responded to a plea for health care services from a community group in the First Ward in Lackawanna by starting a neighborhood clinic with medical school faculty and funds from the Erie County Board of Health. Goshin served as board chair and de facto executive director.

When he graduated from UB medical school in 1970, he became assistant health commissioner for Erie County and developed three comprehensive clinics to serve impoverished neighborhoods in Buffalo. In the meantime, he was studying the relatively new concept of HMOs. He eventually obtained a federal grant to start what became Univera Healthcare, a statewide $1 billion-a-year health care and health insurance program with a staff of 2,900 and more than half a million members.

Now he’s starting a new program at UB with the same kind of do-it-yourself idealism.

After discussing global health issues with public health students last year, Goshin, who has maintained adjunct faculty status in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine throughout his career as a health care executive, offered to lead an effort to promote and coordinate global health opportunities at the School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP). He had recently sponsored three occupational therapy student placements in India and Africa through his Healthy World Foundation.

This fall, the school created the Office of Global Health Initiatives, which Goshin is heading. He is not taking a salary. He also has made a gift $100,000 to the school, primarily for fellowships for students in global health placements. It is the largest gift in the young school’s history.

“With cutbacks in state funding for UB, it seemed unlikely that the SPHHP would be able to identify resources to create the office, so I decided to help with both my time and some resources,” Goshin says.

His connection to global health issues comes through organizations doing work in the field. He retired from Univera in 2003, and shortly afterward traveled to rural Haiti with a friend who was advising a Freedom from Hunger microfinance program there.

Goshin says he was immediately struck by the possibility of integrating health care with microfinance.

His interest led to membership on the Freedom from Hunger board of trustees. He also started his own pilot health project in Uganda. He helped Freedom from Hunger obtain a $6 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a microfinance and health care project, and served as a senior advisor for the project in Benin, Burkina Faso, Philippines, Bolivia and India.

He started the Healthy World Foundation, which he self-funds, in 2006. The foundation partners with in-country organizations and is engaged in projects in Uganda and India ranging from clinics for the homeless, childhood malnutrition, projects serving children with disabilities and the frail elderly in rural villages to a collaboration with Roswell Park Cancer Institute for oral cancer screening and a collaboration with the World Health Organization on a new malaria intervention.

Lynn Kozlowski, dean of SPHHP, says it’s good that the new office has “someone to take on this work who can network in the university, in SUNY and in the global health community.”

Goshin already has met with Mitch Leventhal, SUNY senior vice chancellor for global affairs. This fall, one of the UB MPH students he is funding is working in a rural village at a placement he arranged with an organization run by a man who was India’s 2009 Social Entrepreneur of the Year. It takes connections to make connections.

After a career in the health care business and the start of a second career in global health, Goshin sees potential intersections of interest—for instance, between a public health researcher working on ways to reduce waterborne disease by sanitizing water sources and engineering faculty working on low-cost water purification systems—as what he calls “opportunistic partnerships.”

His long-term vision is that SPHHP can become a leader in global health learning, research and service engagement. He also sees the school as a potential nexus of global health collaborations across UB, SUNY and Western New York.

Goshin divides his time between Buffalo; Santa Fe, N.M.; and New York City. He estimates he spends about a month a year in India and Uganda. He sits on the boards of several nonprofit organizations—including the Community Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, of which he is a founder—as well as several corporate boards. He lives on the phone and email. When he is in Buffalo, he’s in his SPHHP office in Kimball Tower on the South Campus.

When he came to UB as an undergraduate planning to take a pre-med curriculum and go to medical school, his dream was to be a doctor in a faraway place, bringing medicine to people who had none. Things didn’t turn out quite that way. Now he’s catching up with how it all started.