Major Gift for Health Programs at SAU

Oct 4, 2017

Dr. Thomas Higgins with long-time friend, Katie Kiley.
Credit Katie Kiley

Thanks to a generous graduate, Saint Ambrose University will expand its health programs. The $1 million gift from Dr. Thomas Higgins, class of 1967, will fund the creation of the Institute for Person-Centered Care and the launching of a Master of Public Health degree program. 

Melissa Sharer, Director of the new Master of Public Health program, says there's a growing demand for people with this advanced degree. 

"The people who usually get the Masters of Public Health degree are quite diverse - anywhere from medical doctors to social workers to sociologists to poli sci majors. It's really people who think at the policy level and systems levels, who think about prevention before the disease hits." 

She estimates 30 people will enroll in the new online program when it starts next August. The goal of "person-centered care" is to look beyond just the medical diagnosis. 

"So if someone comes to you with cancer, it's not just about cancer. It's about how you want to create the care pathway. What's important to you? It goes beyond the disease and what the person is diagnosed with to what is important to the person."

 Dr. Sharer says the institute at Saint Ambrose will work with Genesis and UnityPoint Trinity and other healthcare providers to figure out ways to implement "person-centered care." 

A former White House aide, Higgins has served on the university Board of Trustees since 2008.