New scholarship is a first for Public Health Sciences department

Preferred Health Systems sets up fund for the fast-growing program

Ladies Stretching - Preferred Health Systems Gift Story

Graduate student Madison Shriner, who is pursuing a master’s degree in aging studies in the Public Health Sciences department at Wichita State, leads flexibility training at the Wichita Downtown Senior Center with participants of the Wichita State University WellRep Program.

For the first time in its history, the Public Health Sciences department at Wichita State will be able to offer its students a scholarship beginning next school year, thanks to a gift from Preferred Health Systems.

   The scholarship is especially valuable because enrollment is growing so rapidly, says Suzanne Hawley, department chair. One of the department’s two bachelor’s degree programs has seen a 100 percent jump in enrollment, the other has had a 79 percent boost and the master’s degree program has experienced a 160 percent increase.

   “As the first endowed scholarship for Public Health Sciences, this award has great meaning to us,” Hawley said. “It not only will provide much needed support to students, but it also will bring more visibility to a program that covers critical aspects of health and intersects many disciplines.”

   Preferred Health Systems chose to establish a scholarship in the WSU College of Health Professions because of its excellent reputation for clinical education and strong community relationships, said Brad Clothier, chief operating officer for the health insurance company.

“The Public Health Sciences department is an area that’s really trying to grow and that we view as important. We wanted to support that.”

- Brad Clothier, Preferred Health Systems

   “The Public Health Sciences department is an area that’s really trying to grow and that we view as important in terms of educating students about health policy and administration,” Clothier said. “We wanted to support that.”

   Most people are probably familiar with Preferred Health Systems’ support of Wichita State through its athletic contributions, such as the Preferred Health Systems Multi-Purpose Center adjacent to Koch Arena. But the company also has invested in WSU in other areas, including study areas for Ahlberg Hall, home to the College of Health Professions, and a fund that supports interprofessional projects involving faculty and staff in the college. It also contributed to the renovation of the Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation Dental Hygiene Clinic.

   “We’re involved with Wichita State in several different ways because we see it as an institution that’s trying to make a difference in our community,” Clothier said. “That is part and parcel to what Preferred Health Systems and Coventry are trying to do in our community.”

   The Public Health Sciences department is important because it is preparing students to enter a rapidly changing industry, he said.

   “The whole value proposition of health care is changing dramatically,” he said. “We see Wichita State placing an emphasis on adaptive leadership and providing the necessary skills for its graduates to deal with the challenges and the changes in health care.”

Suzanne Hawley, chair of the Public Health Sciences department in the WSU College of Health Professions

Suzanne Hawley, chair of the Public Health Sciences department in the WSU College of Health Professions

   Students who major in public health sciences can work in a variety of health care settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, insurance companies, governmental health agencies, nonprofit organizations and community health departments. Most will probably have administrative or leadership roles in those settings.

   “It’s hard to find an area that public health does not impact,” Hawley says. “It approaches health for individuals from a population or community perspective. How do we reduce obesity or infant mortality? How do we care for an aging population? How do we create quality-improvement measures within an organization? This is all public health.”

   The Preferred Health Systems scholarship will be awarded for the first time next fall. Academic achievement and leadership potential as demonstrated through community service will be among factors considered in awarding it. 


circle arrow If you would like to establish a scholarship to help deserving health professions students, please contact Lynette Murphy, WSU Foundation senior director of development for the College of Health Professions, at (316) 978-3441 or at

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