December 2, 2013

Providing students with a great place to collaborate

Deniese Chaney, MPH, is one of the many Gillings School alumni who steps forward whenever she’s needed.

A principal in Accenture’s Health and Public Service Operating Group (, Chaney serves on the School’s Public Health Foundation board and is program committee chair for the School’s 75th anniversary campaign.

Chaney chatted with epidemiology doctoral students Nicholas Taylor (left) and Peter Samai. The men expressed appreciation for the comfortable work space established through Chaney's gift to the School. (Photo by Linda Kastleman)

Chaney chatted with epidemiology doctoral students. The men expressed appreciation for the comfortable work space established through Chaney’s gift to the School. (Photo by Linda Kastleman)

Several years ago, she endowed a fellowship that continues to support outstanding scholars in the Department of Health Policy and Management.

“I feel strongly about using personal giving to provide our students with opportunities to finish school debt-free,” Chaney says. “I’m committed to improving access to funds to help defray the cost of their education at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.”

Chaney’s most recent gift supported the installation of a “collaboration commons” at the School. The bright, comfortable, technology-equipped space, set by a wall of windows, is a perfect place in all seasons to study alone or discuss projects with colleagues.

“I love the idea of enhancing collaboration and networking in any form among students, faculty members and visitors,” she says. “This study area is in close proximity to one of the School’s (and UNC’s) most updated and adaptable classrooms [2308 McGavran-Greenberg Hall]. The area’s open space is a complement to the classroom and provides a venue for small-group preparation, presentation rehearsal, brainstorming and just having fun conversations that often open the door to new discoveries about a project.”

Students began visiting the space as soon as it opened and continue to find new ways to use it.

“It’s been a real pleasure to know that our public health students started using and enjoying the space immediately and that it has the potential to improve their educational experience,” Chaney says.

—Linda Kastleman

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