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New Graduate Fellowships at U of M to Improve Region’s Quality of Life

Contact: Gabrielle Maxey

July 3, 2014 - A $575,000 gift will create 25 new graduate fellowships in the School of Public Health at the University of Memphis to prepare the next generation of health professionals to address the most pressing public health challenges in the Memphis area.

“Public health affects everyone – from the strength of our workforce to the success of our students and the well-being of our families and neighborhoods. Our School of Public Health is uniquely positioned to address this region’s health challenges in ways that will improve the wellness and safety of everyone,” said U of M President M. David Rudd. “We are grateful to this generous donor who, through their strategic investment, will allow even more students to partner with local public health organizations.”

The fellowship program, created by a local anonymous donor, will provide financial assistance to five students each year for five years. The new program will allow the School of Public Health to competitively recruit talented public health students to its program and the region. The fellowships will ease the students’ financial burden during the final year of their graduate program in Public Health. Local agencies with whom the School partners will benefit from the students’ work at no cost as they are fully supported by the fellowship.  

“The School of Public Health’s graduate education program couples coursework with practicum experiences and research to prepare our students to be at the forefront of advances in our community’s health,” said Lisa M. Klesges, dean of the School of Public Health. “We are building an innovative academic program where the city we share provides the challenges, the lessons and the learning opportunities for our faculty and students to address. Our graduates are equipped to implement, support and ultimately lead public health progress across our city, from health care systems to community-based organizations.” 

Under the administration of Marian Levy, assistant dean of students and public health practice, fellowship recipients will work closely with faculty and community partners to complement their formal graduate studies. Given the School’s urban setting, faculty and students are particularly focused on conducting research of relevance, which includes asthma, obesity, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS and chronic diseases that threaten our city’s overall health. Approximately 80 percent of the students in the Master of Public Health degree program are from the Memphis area, and the skills they develop will directly benefit the quality of life in the Mid-South. 

The U of M’s School of Public Health has grown significantly since its inception in 2009, now housing three doctoral programs in Epidemiology, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and in Health Systems & Policy. There are two master’s programs, one in Public Health and another in Health Administration, the only such program in Tennessee to be nationally accredited. Additional areas of study in the School include biostatistics and environmental health. 

“The School’s growth and impact on our community can be accelerated with additional private support from donors who want to see significant change realized through education, research and developing future health leaders,” said Klesges.

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Last Updated: 4/15/15