It is with sadness that we announce that Dr. Leonard J. Duhl, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of City & Regional Planning at the College of Environmental Design and of community health and human development at the School of Public Health, passed away on December 28, 2019 at the age of 93.
Duhl received a Bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1945 and a doctorate in medicine from Albany Medical College in New York in 1948. He was an intern at the Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, in 1948 and 1949; a fellow of the Menninger School of Psychiatry in Topeka, Kansas, from 1949 until 1951, fulfilling his residency at the Winter (now Colmery - O'Neil) Veterans Administration Hospital in Topeka. He also graduated from the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute (now the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis) in the District of Columbia in 1964.
Duhl’s work in public health, urban planning and his advocacy for disabled students garnered him international recognition. In the 1960’s Duhl worked for the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. After his time in Washington, Duhl joined as a faculty member at UC Berkeley. He was a passionate teacher and advocate of his students, as evidenced by the stories shared by students over the decades who pursued their masters in city planning and public health. Upon hearing of his passing, one alum remarked, “Of all the people I've met, Len's impacts upon me and my view of the world were among the most profound.”
Duhl is recognized world-wide for co-founding the Healthy Cities initiative and philosophy in 1986, which has been adopted by more than 10,000 municipalities internationally. Adopted early on by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Healthy Cities Initiative encourages local governments to incorporate health issues and health concerns into all aspects of public policy. Since 2003, WHO has emphasized the link between public health policy and the rest of urban policy such as economic promotion and community development.
A thought-leader ahead of his time, Duhl was diligent in establishing philosophies and best practices that intersect public health and urban planning, which continue to be impactful today. He published numerous books, academic papers, and presented keynotes across the world. Towards the end of his career, he was recognized with awards, such as the Abraham Horwitz Award, which recognizes individuals whose achievements in public health have resulted in improvements to the people of the United States.