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Trio of RFU Scholarship Endowments Target Improved Health Outcomes Through Diversity in Education
Rosalind Franklin University's tradition of developing a diverse healthcare workforce will be strengthened in future academic years by significant, progressive and tangible commitments from three different corners of RFU leadership toward advancing the cause of equity in health professions.
We must break down barriers to educational access if we hope to train compassionate, culturally competent healthcare practitioners who reflect the communities they will serve. Diversity in our professional ranks is key to improving health care, population health and health outcomes.
Chicago Medical School Dean Archana Chatterjee, MD, PhD; Board of Trustees Member Elder Granger, MD; and President and CEO Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM, have stepped forward with lead gifts of $25,000 each to establish separate scholarship endowments that are designed to remove barriers to education, promote diversity in our classrooms and fuel the drive toward a medical culture that better represents a multicultural society.
Here's a look at each of these inspiring developments in chronological order:
- In February 2020, Dr. Elder Granger established the Fannie H. Emanuel, MD, 1915 Memorial Endowed Scholarship, which is designed to provide financial assistance to African American students who are accepted into or enrolled at CMS.
The award focuses on students who exemplify Dr. Emanuel's dedication to civic leadership as demonstrated by their commitment to health equity, community-based care and/or interprofessional care. Dr. Emanuel attended the Chicago Hospital College of Medicine — which eventually became Chicago Medical School — and went on to become a member of Chicago's African American elite, championing both health care and social services for the city's underserved populations.
Dr. Granger said he and his wife, Brenda, have a longstanding interest in supporting students from at-risk populations, and he hopes this creation of an endowed scholarship will inspire others to provide assistance. With this in mind, an institutional commitment of $50,000 was made to the Emanuel Scholarship endowment from CMS and the university's Strategic Resource Allocations Committee.
- This summer, Dr. Chatterjee announced plans to create the Agnes D. Lattimer, MD '54 Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Named for a pioneer among African-American physicians in the Chicago region, the Lattimer Scholarship will support the ongoing financial needs of students from groups underrepresented in medicine who are enrolled at the Chicago Medical School.
Dr. Chatterjee, who established the scholarship with her family, said a vast array of research into healthcare outcomes supports the need for diversity in the physician workforce. Because equity in health professions must start with equity in education, Dr. Chatterjee added that she was proud to honor a CMS alumna who rose from poverty to prominence in her vocation.
“Soon after I arrived at CMS, I began to seek opportunities to support our students in a meaningful way,” Dr. Chatterjee said. “In discussions with our Office of Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion, I learned about Dr. Agnes Lattimer and her legacy. As a fellow pediatrician, I thought it would be great to honor her achievements through this scholarship.”
The perpetual Lattimer Scholarship offers an opportunity for others to contribute to the endowed fund, with the aim of increasing the yearly student scholarship award.
Dr. Lattimer, who passed away in 2019, entered CMS in 1950 as one of only two women and the only African American in her class. Lack of financial resources had forced her to turn down acceptance at a medical college in her home state of Tennessee, and she then worked as a housekeeper in Chicago for 18 months to earn enough money to attend CMS.
A lengthy career in pediatrics culminated for Dr. Lattimer with her appointment as medical director of Cook County Hospital in 1986. In 1971, she became the first female and first African American recipient of the CMS Distinguished Alumnus Award. RFU also features an Agnes D. Lattimer, MD Professorship, which was awarded in 2019 to Joanne Kwak-Kim, MD MPH.
- Dr. Rheault's endowed scholarship is similarly designed to assist the ongoing needs of students from underrepresented backgrounds. Titled the Presidential Diversity Scholarship, the award was created with the intent that it will be supported financially by future university leaders, and contributions to the fund are welcomed from individuals and organizations that are also seeking to join the cause of addressing inequity.
The scholarship recognizes the academic achievement and potential of students from a broad range of background experiences, and who have a variety of social identities such as, but not limited to, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and differently abled-ness.
“We must break down barriers to educational access if we hope to train compassionate, culturally competent healthcare practitioners who reflect the communities they will serve,” Dr. Rheault said. “Diversity in our professional ranks is key to improving health care, population health and health outcomes.”
Consideration for the annual Presidential Diversity Scholarship shall be given to students who are accepted into or currently attending RFU and have established financial need as defined by federal and state guidelines.
All three endowed scholarships will be awarded in perpetuity beginning in 2021-22 academic year. The university also awards other diversity scholarships, including the George B. Geppner, DPM '50 And Milo Turnbo, DPM '34, Memorial Minority Student Endowed Scholarship; the Anthony D. Jagger, DPM '66 and Patrick A. DeHeer, DPM '90 Honorary Endowed Scholarship; the John M. Metz, Sr., DPM '42 Memorial Scholarship; and the Walgreens Diversity in Pharmacy Scholarship.