The Center for Closing the Health Gap Gives $100K for UC Students Pursuing Public Health Education

Center for Closing the Health Gap's Dwight Tillery and Renee Mahaffey Harris
(FROM LEFT) Dwight Tillery, A&S '70; Shuk-Mei Ho, PhD; Renee Mahaffey Harris; Jun Ying, PhD

Former Cincinnati mayor hopes gift will help address the region’s health disparities

CINCINNATI – November 1, 2016 – The Center for Closing the Health Gap has pledged $100,000 to benefit students pursuing Masters of Public Health (MPH) degrees at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’s Department of Environmental Health. The gift established The Dwight Tillery Fellowship Program Fund, named for former Cincinnati Mayor Dwight Tillery, A&S '70. The fund will provide stipends for MPH students interested in public and community health as it relates to vulnerable populations.

“The Center for Closing the Health Gap is proud to partner with the University of Cincinnati to address health disparities in the Greater Cincinnati region,” said Mark Vander Laan, who joined the Board of Directors for The Center for Closing the Health Gap in the early years and currently serves as its Board Chair. “We hope this opportunity engages graduate students in learning how to be a part of eliminating health disparities.”

In order to be considered for the stipend, students must maintain a minimum 3.75 GPA and demonstrate an interest in services related to public and community health. Dwight Tillery Fellowship recipients will have the opportunity to participate in a one-year training program through The Center for Closing the Health Gap to help promote a culture of health for key at-risk groups in Greater Cincinnati.

“We appreciate The Center for Closing the Health Gap’s impactful partnership with the University of Cincinnati. This gift will provide more opportunities for our deserving MPH students to engage with the community and improve health outcomes for the region and beyond,” said UC Interim President Beverly J. Davenport.

The Center for Closing the Health Gap is a community-based non-profit that aims to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities in Greater Cincinnati through advocacy, education and community outreach. The center’s programs aim to improve disease prevention, promote healthier eating and enhance quality of life. Its work is based on the principle that the people most affected by health disparities must lead the movement.

“UC’s MPH graduates help drive the transformation of health care in the region and around the globe, They are passionate in helping communities to eliminate health disparity, ” said Shuk-Mei Ho, PhD, Jacob G. Schmidlapp Professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Health, and Director of the Cincinnati Cancer Center. “This generous gift from The Center for Closing the Health Gap will help more of our deserving students pursue their dreams and make a direct and positive impact on the health of our underserved communities in the region.”

UC’s Master of Public Health Program has been a graduate degree option since 2007 and features six concentrations including biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, occupational health, health services and management and health education and promotion. The MPH program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health and has joined the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

“UC’s MPH program is the only one in Greater Cincinnati, and we serve as both an academic and training center,” said Jun Ying, PhD, director of UC’s MPH Program and associate professor in the Department of Environmental Health. “Thank you to the Center for Closing the Health Gap for your incredible partnership which will help us in our goal of training quality professional health practitioners for the region."

“Dwight Tillery has been one of the region’s leading advocates for equitable health care throughout Greater Cincinnati. We are so grateful for his and The Center for Closing the Health Gap’s support and look forward to advancing their important work through the College of Medicine’s MPH program,” said UC Foundation President Rodney Grabowski.


About the Center for Closing the Health Gap
The Center for Closing the Health Gap is a non-profit organization, founded in 2004, committed to raising awareness about and eliminating racial and health disparities across Greater Cincinnati. Through advocacy, education, and community outreach, it works collaboratively with hospitals, government, associations and businesses to address prevalent health disparities and social determinants. The center focuses on disease prevention, promoting healthier eating and enhancing quality of life to strengthen communities and people through numerous programs and initiatives. Learn more at

About the University of Cincinnati Foundation
Established in 1975, the University of Cincinnati Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and is the private sector fundraising entity for the University of Cincinnati and UC Health. The foundation supports UC’s aspirations through philanthropic collaboration with the colleges, the Academic Health Center, UC Health and other units to maximize private support. The foundation’s advancement efforts promote the development of productive, enduring relationships with alumni, friends, colleagues, students, foundations, corporations and the Greater Cincinnati community. For more information, please visit

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