Connections Do Matter

RSPH Alumni Campaign Committee
The RSPH Alumni Committee helped raised more than $537,000 in gifts from more than 1,000 alumni. Committee members include (L-R) Grant Baldwin, Laura Zauderer Baldwin, Ariela Freedman, Anne Farland Arwood, Daniel Thompson, Melissa Alperin, Mimi Kiser, and Lisa Carlson.

Alumni put their public health skills to work for Campaign Emory

By Michelle Hiskey

To raise money for Campaign Emory from fellow graduates, a group of RSPH alumni tackled the challenge as they would a public health issue.

They relied on the skills they learned at Rollins, such as community building and networking. Most of all, they worked collaboratively and carried the message that today's actions—even a small donation of time or funds—ripple to future generations.

"It was interesting to see how our whole group became a team of teams who all reached out," says RSPH Alumni Campaign chair Virginia "Ginny" Bales Harris 71C 77MPH. "Public health teaches you to work this way and draw people in through a sense of community. It was true for this campaign as well."

More than 1,000 alumni gave more than $537,000, helping Rollins surpass its $150 million campaign goal and push it to more than $170 million. The result went beyond dollars to strengthen alumni ties expected to provide ongoing support for Rollins.

"Every donation is a connection, and every connection matters," says Lisa Carlson 93MPH. "Even if you can't donate money, you can give time to mentor a student or help another alumnus. It's important that Rollins continues to help those connections grow over time."

Carlson led the "Seating Our Future" drive to sell 134 commemorative plaques for auditorium seats in the Claudia Nance Rollins Building. Each plaque, in essence, represents a team. A married couple who met while studying at Rollins marked their anniversary; an alumnus noted the influence of a public health pioneer; a group of students donated to honor a beloved professor.

  Virginia Bales Harris

Virginia Bales Harris, RSPH Alumni Campaign chair, is matching the $25,000 grant she received as the recipient of the J. Pollard Turman Alumni Service Award in 2012. Her $50,000 gift will support scholarships.

Selling out the seat plaques, which raised $33,500 for scholarships and other needs, required flexibility. The project began with the idea of offering engraved pavers near the new building, but production costs made Carlson's group change course. The ability to adapt also is ingrained in Rollins graduates, Harris says.

"One of the stimulating aspects of public health is that there are always new issues," she says. "Huge issues come up frequently, and a good public health education prepares Rollins students to be flexible and keep on learning, so they can be vigilant to identify the next problem early while that problem is still manageable."

Networking is powerful in public health because sharing knowledge across different fields can lead to unique solutions. It can change perceptions, which Carlson found true during Campaign Emory.

"Twenty years ago, my public health classes met on the fourth floor of the American Cancer Society building [now 1599 Clifton], and large meetings like orientation were held at the CDC auditorium," she says. "By spreading the word about seats in an auditorium that wasn't even there when I was a student, I've met many alumni who came after me whose experiences were different because of Rollins' growth.

"What was the same was that through public health, we all learned the importance of giving to generations who come after us."

The largest single gift from an alumnus was a $100,000 bequest from Elizabeth Camp 83MPH to create a scholarship for nurses seeking an MPH degree. Scholarship funding is a school priority going forward from the campaign, and its visibility is greater through efforts such as that of Dennis Jarvis 88MPH, who is helping raise funds for the Dr. Kathleen R. Miner Scholarship Fund for Public Health Excellence.

His first obstacle was overcoming his mentor's initial reluctance. "But I'm not dead yet!" Miner protested, before agreeing to be honored. The scholarship has drawn significant donations, such as $10,000 from Michelle Berrey 86OX 88C 92MPH, and remains only $10,000 short of full endowment. Jarvis is optimistic that former students and colleagues will help meet their $100,000 goal as an opportune way to give back. As Miner's graduate assistant he learned that her favorite word is "opportunity."

"These opportunities were connections that she would make for her students and often were introductions that could turn into a job," says Jarvis, a public health adviser in the CDC's Center for Global Health. "I am not from Atlanta, and through her I met a lot of people who gave me a chance to work and led me to the job I have now."

The connections fostered through Campaign Emory must continue to deepen for the school to thrive for future generations of students.

"Rollins still needs its alumni's help year after year; we need them to be involved in what is happening here that touches the world," Harris says. "As good as this campaign was, if ­Rollins is to continue as a high-achieving school of public health, we are not close to meeting the needs, particularly for scholarships and strengthening the endowment. Continued support from alumni will make a difference."

wise heart society  

Introducing the Wise Heart Society

If you graduated from the RSPH in the past decade, you can join Emory's leadership annual giving society by donating $500. For all other graduates, the minimum entry point for the Wise Heart Society is $1,000.

Leaders take action, create change, and inspire others. Members of the Wise Heart Society take the lead among Emory's most influential annual supporters with their generous gifts. "Wise Heart" comes from Emory's motto—cor prudentis possidebit scientiam, the wise heart seeks knowledge—which informs Emory's core missions of education, discovery, health care, and public service. Rollins' accomplishments would not be possible without the generosity of donors, whose support provides crucial resources that can change lives.

For information on how you can join the Wise Heart ­Society by making a leadership gift to Rollins, visit


Table of Contents

Bookmark and Share

Magazine Cover