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Furman Unveils Institute for Advancement of Community Health

Furman University officials announced today that a new institute at the university will be dedicated to improving the health of the greater Greenville community.

With support from its partnership with Greenville Health System, Furman’s Institute for the Advancement of Community Health (IACH) will allow students and faculty to be more strategically involved in the work of community organizations devoted to supporting healthier lifestyles.

“This is a great example where Furman’s expertise and the needs of the community come into alignment,” said Furman President Elizabeth Davis.  “More than 40 percent of Furman students are currently pursuing careers in health care, and the university just created a new major in Public Health and an interdisciplinary minor in Medicine, Health and Culture. The IACH will connect these students to internship, research and mentorship opportunities with community partners.”

The IACH is part of “The Furman Advantage,” a new strategic vision that combines a liberal arts and sciences education with immersive experiences outside the classroom, creating a personalized pathway that prepares students for lives of purpose, successful careers, and community benefit. The university unveiled the vision in early October.

Davis noted that the IACH is already collaborating with Furman’s Riley Institute on issues of education and diversity and with the Shi Center for Sustainability on food security in the local community.

This work supports the vision of GHS to “transform health care for the benefit of the people and communities we serve.” As GHS shifts to value-based health care focused on helping people stay healthy where they live and work, students grounded in Furman’s liberal arts education that includes sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts will help make this vision a reality.

“Health care of the future will need a different type of workforce as the industry evolves,” GHS President Spence M. Taylor, M.D., said. “This initiative supports that goal. GHS is already helping to redefine and develop the new vision of health care, but we must work with outstanding academic partners like Furman University to get it right for our patients and our community.”

Eli Hestermann, who serves as the Executive Director of the IACH at Furman and oversees pre-professional studies, including internships and educational programs, at GHS’s eight campuses across the region, said, “The Institute for the Advancement of Community Health cements the partnership between Furman and GHS and gives our students rich opportunities for pursuing careers in health care.  At the same time, it provides a resource for connecting community partners to a deep pool of talented students and faculty expertise.”

The institute brings together existing programs at Furman that connect students with GHS professionals; a new Medical-Legal Partnership among Furman, GHS, and South Carolina Legal Services; and internships and research at community partners including LiveWell Greenville and the Greenville Free Clinic. The Institute serves as Furman’s footprint in a new Shared Academic Health Center with GHS, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, providing enhanced opportunities for Furman students to enter graduate and professional programs at the state’s two largest universities.

The IACH is working with GHS and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville to increase diversity among health care professionals, and with Clemson faculty and the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health Advocacy at GHS to improve children’s health.

For more information about the Institute for the Advancement of Community Health, contact Dr. Eli Hestermann at or 864-294-3527.


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