‘Challenge’ Grant Targets Pre-Health Advising

With summertime construction scheduled for the new Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall For Health & Innovation and the renovation of Sage Hall — along with an academic initiative for expanded pre-health advising — now is the best time ever to invest in the future of students in Stetson’s College of Arts and Sciences.

That’s the word to alumni from administrators of their alma mater.

Stetson, bolstered by generous support from two significant entities, aims to enhance health and science education, and the university is seeking the help of Hatters (and others) everywhere.

In 2018, Stetson Trustees Hyatt and Cici Brown donated $18 million to build a new health and science building and expand related programs. It was the largest single gift in the university’s history. Since that time, academic programs have been added and expanded, while the number of students pursuing a pre-health track also has grown.

In 2020, the Ginsburg Family Foundation announced the establishment of the Jeffrey and Diane Ginsburg Hillel House on campus, which has led to the foundation more recently providing a $75,000 “challenge grant” toward strengthening the university’s Pre-Health Advising Program, with the goal of raising an additional $75,000 to match that gift. Already, more than $10,000 has been raised toward the match.

The renovation of venerable Sage Hall is only one sign of advancements to come in health and science education.

Yet, more is needed — with your help.

A robust pre-health advising program is a key element in the success of students pursuing careers in the health professions, and the quality of pre-health programs is greatly influenced by the level of institutional commitment and external support, according to Stetson President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD.

And the president has personal perspective. His eldest daughter, Emma, is a medical student at the highly regarded New York University Long Island School of Medicine.

“I know through her experience the importance of a strong advising program in ensuring future success. It is for these reasons that expanding our Pre-Health Advising Program at Stetson University is a top priority for me,” he wrote in a letter to the Ginsburg Family Foundation, which resulted in the foundation’s financial commitment.

Health sciences and biology are now two of the largest majors at Stetson. As the university’s undergraduate enrollment has increased, so has students’ interest in a health professions career, noted Elizabeth Skomp, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

In turn, related growth abounds. Stetson, for example, has completed articulation agreements with AdventHealth University’s physician assistant, nursing and nuclear medicine programs. Those agreements add to ones already in place with AHU’s programs in occupational therapy and physical therapy, as well as the osteopathic medicine, dental and pharmacy programs at Lake Erie College of Medicine.

portrait outside
Elizabeth Skomp, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences: “At this time, the Pre-Health Advising Program is the highest fundraising priority … .”

“A robust faculty-led pre-health student advising program is the hallmark of a program that creates successful pathways to a variety of health professions,” Skomp affirmed.

Currently, the Health Professions Advisory Committee, chaired by Michael King, PhD, professor of biology, oversees and delivers an array of activities within Stetson’s existing Pre-Health Advising Program. The HPAC faculty work with pre-health students in mock interviews; prepare and submit committee letters to support student applications to graduate and professional schools; recruit students into the pre-health program; demonstrate the array of career possibilities open to them; and host visitors and maintain contact with health profession programs elsewhere.

“These efforts are laudable and effective, but their impact would be even greater if undertaken as part of a pre-health advising program with an expanded scope,” Skomp added.

As a result, Stetson seeks to strengthen its Pre-Health Advising Program “in the face of ever-growing demand for quality health care professionals,” she said.

“As a new Health Professions Advisor and our faculty work with pre-health students to illuminate the many career paths available to them, we will seek not only to serve the needs and career aspirations of our students and alumni, but also to increase our student retention and graduation rates in health-related fields, increase the numbers of Stetson graduates in health professions, and, of course, bolster Stetson’s reputation as a university with strengths in health and science,” Skomp concluded. “At this time, the Pre-Health Advising Program is the highest fundraising priority for the College of Arts and Sciences.”

Want to help? Donor naming opportunities are available in the Cici & Hyatt Brown Hall for Health & Innovation. To help, go here.

-Michael Candelaria