May 17, 2012

The School will always claim the Merrills as Tar Heels, even though they live in Virginia. Pictured (l-r) are Hamilton, Teri, Mark and Madeline (UNC class of 2013).

The School will always claim the Merrills as Tar Heels, even though they live in Virginia. Pictured (l-r) are Hamilton, Teri, Mark and Madeline (UNC class of 2013).

Mark Merrill, MSPH, has been an active alumnus of the School for more than 25 years, serving several terms on the Public Health Foundation Board and winning a 1994 alumni leadership award. He is now president and chief executive officer at Valley Health System, a nonprofit healthcare organization that operates six hospitals and various care centers serving nearly one million residents in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.

Still, his heart is a little farther south. Daughter Madeline, now studying in Madrid for a semester, is a junior at Carolina, where her dad received his public health master’s degree in health policy and management in 1984.

“We’re all Tar Heels here,” Mark’s wife Teri says. “I’m not Tar Heel ‘born and bred,’ but with Madeline at Carolina, at least I can say I bred a Tar Heel!”

“I had a wonderful academic experience at UNC’s public health school,” Mark says. “I met colleagues with whom I still stay in touch. My training there launched a happy and successful career.”

Several years ago, Mark and Teri were instrumental in establishing a scholarship that bears the name of William Zelman, PhD, professor of health policy and management. “Bill Zelman not only provided me with excellent didactic training during my time at UNC, he was also an excellent mentor and counselor,” Mark says.

When Mark looked for a way to give back to the School, he decided to honor his mentor. After making a lead gift, he sent letters to classmates, inviting them to give. The efforts resulted in a $50,000 endowed scholarship in Zelman’s name.

Now, Mark and Teri have honored the School through The Terese S. and Mark H. Merrill Endowed Fund in Health Policy and Management, which will provide money for scholarships and professional development opportunities at the discretion of the department chair.

“During my service on the foundation board, I’ve been impressed and pleased with all that the School accomplishes–on the global front, in maternal and child health issues, water and sanitation, statistics and many other areas,” Mark says. “We know the School has been under severe budget restraints lately, and I feel so fortunate that we can give back. Our entire family is happy to show our appreciation.”

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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 www.sph.unc.edu/cph.

Last updated June 29, 2012

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