October 8, 2018


“He encouraged me to aim high.”


“Graduate school changed my life, and Bill Zelman was a big part of that,” says Mark H. Merrill, MSPH, 1984 health policy and management alumnus of the Gillings School.

Dr. William Zelman

Dr. William Zelman

As a way of saying “thank you,” Merrill and his wife Teri established the William N. Zelman Scholarship in Healthcare Administration in 2003.

Zelman, now professor emeritus, retired in 2014 after a distinguished 36-year career in health policy and management, highlighted by awards for teaching excellence, mentorship and innovations in teaching technology. He was part of a national team that helped develop health care financial management into a professional field of study, and his Introduction to Healthcare Financial Management still is regarded highly by graduate programs in health administration and management.

Merrill is now president and chief executive officer of Valley Health System, a nonprofit that operates six hospitals and various care centers serving 600,000 residents in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.

“Dr. Zelman encouraged me to aim high,” says Merrill. “He respected and inspired students and had a personal touch that resulted in a lasting connection.”

The Zelman Scholarship helps to support a student in each master’s class, placing educational opportunity within reach of the best and brightest, regardless of financial ability.

The scholarship, Zelman says, was the greatest career tribute he could have received.

“I’m glad if my students see me as having made a mark on their lives,” he says. “Mostly, I was lucky to have enjoyed my work so much. Nothing was more important to me than teaching, and it’s tremendously rewarding for this scholarship to be a lasting legacy from my past students to future students.”

Ann Simpson

“Each new gift to the Zelman Scholarship helps the School stay competitive in attracting the highest-caliber students. I like to think of the dedicated student recipients, who will be public health leaders of tomorrow, as being a great return on an investment.” —Dr. William Zelman


To join in honoring Dr. Zelman, please contact advancement at (919) 966-0198 or giving.sph@unc.edu.


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Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit sph.unc.edu/cph.