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$250K Encompass Health gift to create new nursing, OT scholarships at Tuskegee

A $250,000 commitment from Birmingham-based Encompass Health will help fund scholarships for deserving nursing and occupational therapy students in Tuskegee University’s School of Nursing and Allied Health. The philanthropic partnership with Tuskegee represents the company’s first university partnership with a historically black college or university (HBCU).
“Thank you for supporting Mother Tuskegee and our students,” Dean Constance Hendricks said when welcoming Encompass Health and university representatives to an event on Thursday, Oct. 25 announcing the gift. “This is a worthwhile investment that will yield much to the improvement of healthcare to your clients and globally to the world that we touch.”
Mary Ellen Hatch, Encompass Health’s vice president of nursing operations, concurred on the new partnership’s potential.
“While today may be our first opportunity to meet many of you in person, it’s certainly not the last time for us to work together,” Hatch said, noting her hope to expand clinical rotation opportunities for Tuskegee students and other partnerships between the school and company.
Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, who represented President Lily D. McNair as the university’s senior executive management advisor, indicated that the ongoing partnership will present many advantages.
“President McNair has adopted the theme of ‘excellence in every way’ for the first year of her presidency,” Morris said. “Our desire to provide a supportive, student-centered environment coincides nicely with Encompass Health’s focus on setting quality standards and doing what’s right for its patients and the communities it serves.”
The new partnership offers benefits for both the university and Encompass Health — a Fortune 1000 company with a national footprint that spans 130 hospitals, and 273 home health and hospice locations, in 36 states and Puerto Rico.
“We look at the vein system we have across the country and we think about the rich history that Tuskegee has — and a relationship just made sense for us,” said Bryan Rogers, Encompass Health’s director of employee relations and diversity. “Our relationship will be forming for years into the future simply because Tuskegee asked us to partner with them.”
Yolanda Turner, Encompass Health’s manager of inclusion and diversity, noted that one of the pillars of the company’s inclusion efforts centers on community partnerships.
“The more we can engage with our communities, the more we can be reflective of the communities we serve,” Turner said. “The more we can partner with minority universities, the more their students will consider Encompass Health as a place where they will begin and continue their careers.”
A portion of Encompass Health’s gift commitment will benefit the university’s endowment, ensuring these scholarships are awarded into perpetuity. In that sense, the endowed portion will be invested, with only the annual return (interest) distributed as a scholarship award.
These new scholarships will be administered by the School of Nursing and Allied Health, which will announce to its students how to apply for these scholarships once that process is established. Questions in the meantime can be directed to the school’s Dean’s Office.
Tuskegee’s School of Nursing and Allied Health touts the state’s first baccalaureate nursing program, and Alabama’s second-oldest occupational therapy program. Today, its nationally accredited programs lead to bachelor’s degrees in nursing and health sciences, or a master’s degree in occupational therapy. For more information about the school and its offerings, visit www.tuskegee.edu/sonah.

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