PHHP family stands up for student and faculty success on Giving Day

By Jill Pease

University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends rallied on February 15 to support the college’s students and faculty with more than 170 gifts totaling more than $126,000. The college ranked fifth among 17 UF colleges and schools in the amount of dollars raised.

Gator Nation Giving Day, UF’s one-day giving campaign, encouraged Gators from all over to “Stand Up and Holler” for UF. The 24-hour campaign raised more than $4 million from 10,597 gifts.

At PHHP, giving centered around funds designed to advance early career faculty research, support graduate student development and offset student travel to professional conferences.

The PHHP Research Innovation Fund supports pilot testing or feasibility studies that will place faculty members in the best possible position to obtain research funding from outside agencies. Donors raised $11,265 for the fund on Giving Day, including a generous gift from Jeffrey Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., who benefited from a small internal grant early in his UF research career.

“Without that early support I would not have been able to convince the NIH that our ideas were worth pursuing,” Fitzsimmons said. “So I am an enthusiastic supporter of small seed grants and a simple and direct process for obtaining them. I like the idea so much that I am pledging support for the program to help match the funding from PHHP. I believe that all new faculty members deserve a chance to pursue new ideas that could shape the future of health care for years to come.”

Three challenges also helped propel PHHP Giving Day gifts.

Occupational therapy alumnus Frank Gainer matched gifts dollar for dollar up to $5,000 to the Occupational Therapy Greatest Needs Fund. Donors raised $7,307 to support students presenting research at national conferences, provide additional stipends or supplemental financial aid to students, and offer occupational therapy services to people who are uninsured or underinsured.

Longtime UF supporters Rolf and Anne Kuhns matched every dollar 5 to 1, up to $2,500 to the Rolf M. and Anne T. Kuhns Endowed Scholarship in Physical Therapy. The fund raised $3,811 to support scholarships for Doctor of Physical Therapy students demonstrating clinical excellence.

An anonymous donor matched gifts to the Health Leaders Professional Development fund dollar for dollar, up to $5,000, resulting in a total of $7,353 raised to support Master of Health Administration student travel associated with case competitions, conferences and fellowship interviews, as well as membership fees. Thanks to Giving Day donors who supported the fund last year, M.H.A. students Carla Dominguez-Baez, Emilee Cato and Bradejah Parker received travel funding to compete in a prestigious case competition held in Atlanta.

“I received funding to attend the National Association of Health Service Executives Conference and Case Competition where my team and I advanced to the semi-finals!” Parker said. “Donors should continue to pour into the PHHP community because it fosters our development, ensuring the advancement of research, education and innovation, ultimately contributing to a healthier, more equitable society.”