Whitlark Scholarship in Public Health Science Supports Talented First-Generation Students
Former School of Public Health Dean Jane E. Clark remembers how much college tuition cost her in the 1960s: $50 per semester.
The first in her family to attend college, Dr. Clark earned her bachelor’s in health and physical education from SUNY Brockport and went on to become a leading researcher in child motor development after earning a master’s (University of Washington) and a doctoral degree (University of Wisconsin). At Maryland, she served as chair of the Department of Kinesiology (2000-2010) and finally dean of the School of Public Health (2012-2016). Throughout her career, she has always displayed a strong commitment to nurturing student success.
Dr. Clark thinks her path to education was easy compared to students today. “It was really pretty cheap,” she reflects. “It is hard for a first-generation college student to get through paying for the cost of a university degree now. We need more funding for these passionate students who are the first in their family to go this far in their education.”
To that end, Dr. Clark and her partner Dr. Jill Whitall, a professor emerita in the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science and an alumna of the Department of Kinesiology (PhD ‘88), have created the Whitlark Endowed Scholarship in Public Health Science with a $52,000 gift. It will recognize a junior each spring who excels in their study of the scientific foundations of public health. Priority will be given to first-generation college students and those who demonstrate a commitment to the role of physical activity as an integral aspect of public health.
During her time as dean, Dr. Clark helped to bring the Public Health Science degree program to the College Park campus. The bachelor’s program, first created by founding Dean Robert S. Gold, was offered on the Shady Grove campus starting in 2010. Dr. Clark hired Dr. Barbara Alving to be the first director of the Public Health Science program when it launched in College Park in 2014. Since that time, the program has grown to have more than 900 students. It is one of the ten most popular majors at UMD.
“I have seen the passion that our PHSC students, many of whom are first-generation students and/or from immigrant families, have for public health,” Dr. Clark says. “Jill and I would like to support students in getting a strong public health science background and in promoting physical activity. Whether through creating more walkable neighborhoods, developing programs through parks and recreation or improving physical education opportunities in schools, we are hopeful that our students will go on to play a leadership role in making our communities healthier and more active.”
The Whitlark Scholarship will be open for nominations beginning February 1 until March 1. The awardee will be announced at the end of March and recognized at the School of Public Health’s Convocation in early May. The first award will be for $2,000.