Project Description

Voorhees College Receives $300,000 Grant from UNCF to Develop Liberal Arts Innovation Center Aimed at Merging Liberal Arts with Healthcare

Funding will enable HBCUs to develop and test promising practices, research and disseminate knowledge, and train and develop faculty and staff across higher education institutions.

Denmark, South Carolina (December 15, 2019) – Voorhees College is pleased to announce it is among four other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to receive a $300,000 grant from UNCF (United Negro College Fund) to create a Liberal Arts Innovation Center for Healthcare Access and Equity. These funds will support the institution’s desire to assist in eliminating health disparities and mitigating healthcare access and equity issues among rural and minority populations, both nationally and internationally. The work of each school addresses the call to action from the liberal arts community to better infuse core skills and competencies from technical fields into the liberal arts. 

The Liberal Arts Innovation Center for Healthcare Access and Equity at Voorhees College seeks achieve the following outcomes: 

Outcome 1: Illuminate the problematic and address the critical need from the liberal arts community to proactively identify the plethora of intersections and shed light on the critical impact that liberal arts and multidisciplinary studies theory and practice have on healthcare access and equity, both intentionally and vicariously.

Outcome 2: Provide a systemic platform for modeling and testing promising and best practices. 

Outcome 3: Establish systemic mechanisms for researching and disseminating new knowledge. 

Outcome 4: Produce a comprehensive training and development program for students, faculty, staff, and community advocates.

According to the College’s President, Dr. W. Franklin Evans, “the establishment of the UNCF LAIC (Liberal Arts Innovation Center) for Healthcare Access and Equity fully advances the College’s mission to become nationally recognized as a premier, comprehensive liberal arts institution focused on student success, excellence and integrity.” 

“The vision is to establish a comprehensive and coordinated liberal arts center that will provide global leadership in: 1) addressing rural and minority healthcare issues through direct and virtual services, 2) facilitating scholarship and training, and 3) providing a platform to advance discourse on access, equity, and ethics from a liberal arts and interdisciplinary approach,” says Dr. Ronnie Hopkins, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Dr. Kendall Williams, Assistant Professor of Public Health will serve as the LAIC’s Co-Executive Director (Healthcare Access and Equity). D. Alexander Miller, Assistant Professor of Sociology will serve as the LAIC’s Co-Executive Director (Liberal Arts). 

Dr. Williams shares, “Healthcare education and healthcare as a social phenomenon is a diverse, ever-changing field composed of complex challenges. The liberal arts approach to healthcare access and equity is a highly appropriate channel to view the problematic from multiple lens and to maximize the potential impact on rural and minority communities.” 

Dr. Miller asserts, “We should no longer continue the same approaches to impacting minority and rural populations that have not worked and probably will not work. As such, a liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings”.

Other recipients of the UNCF LAIC grant are: 

  • Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, North Carolina | STEM Liberal Arts Innovation Center
  • Talladega College* in Talladega, Alabama | Education Liberal Arts Innovation Center
  • Dillard University* in New Orleans, Louisiana | Finance Liberal Arts Innovation Center

According to Provost Hopkins, Voorhees College plans to partner with the following institutions and others to expand the range of the healthcare access and equity for rural and minority populations: Benedict College, Columbia, South Carolina; Berea College, Berea, Kentucky; Denmark Technical College, Denmark, South Carolina; Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio; St. Monica University, Beau, Cameroon, Central West Africa; and the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, West Africa, Ghana.  

Since their inception, liberal arts institutions have provided a broad-based education that adequately prepares students for a wide range of professions.

The grants will be administered via the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. CPI is a three-pronged comprehensive approach to delivering career pathways for students: guided pathways, curricular enhancements, and integrated co-curricular engagement. 

The goal of CPI is to help students find meaningful employment in their desired career fields. Awarded to UNCF in 2015, the $50 million Lilly Endowment marked the second-largest gift in UNCF history. Currently, 24 HBCUs or predominantly black institutions actively participate in the UNCF CPI. ““The economic mobility for students who have a base in a liberal arts education is evident. UNCF is eager to cross-pollinate liberal arts pedagogy into professions that will provide the all-encompassing skill sets that 21st-century employers value,” Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF President and CEO said in a statement released by UNCF. “These critical skills can fuel students’ careers forward with higher earning potential. Thank you to the Lilly Endowment for entrusting UNCF with this very important initiative.”

UNCF-Member Institutions 

For a list UNCF-Member Institutions, please visit https://www.uncf.org/member-colleges?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3_Oyzti55gIVBbTtCh0a3AfMEAAYASAAEgJC2_D_BwE. 

About Voorhees College

Voorhees College is a private, historically black college (HBCU) in Denmark, South Carolina, United States. It is affiliated with The Episcopal Church and is  accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees. (www.voorhees.edu)