Siegrist Family Scholarship Fund will support health policy and management students

Facts make a difference.

That’s the simple reason why Richard and Christine Siegrist believe now is a critical time to support the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and its students. A gift from the couple created the Siegrist Family Scholarship Fund, which will provide necessary financial support to students studying management and/or health policy in the Master of Public Health program.

It’s a program that has become increasingly important as the battle over health care policy has raged on Capitol Hill—and it’s one that the Siegrists are intimately familiar with.

Rick, MBA ’82, a lecturer on health care management in the Department of Health Policy and Management and director of innovation and entrepreneurship, began teaching at the School in 1985. He’s seen firsthand the impact that students can have—but also the sacrifices they make in order to pursue careers in public health.

“When I look at graduate school, it’s a big commitment for the students and I’d like to help Harvard Chan continue to attract and support students who otherwise might not be able to afford it,” Siegrist says. “After graduation we should give students the ability to take positions where the number one criterion is making a difference.  That’s what you can do if you’re not worried about paying student loans in the short term.”

Rick and Chris believe well-informed people with critical thinking skills are needed now in high-impact roles.

“Our students are well-versed in the facts and well-versed in reality and what will work and what won’t work.  I think that needs to be a greater part of the dialogue that’s occurring now,” Rick says.

Chris agrees—adding that students leave the Harvard Chan School with an important suite of management skills that will help them create change from within organizations.

“I think it’s important that we teach students about organizational management, particularly on the financial side—how to look critically at what’s going on around them in their future careers,” Chris says. “It’s a skill that many health care professionals don’t have when they come to graduate school, and that frankly some of their managers in the hospitals don’t have either. So it’s crucial that this kind of expertise makes its way into health care management systems.”

Rick says the curriculum in the Department of Health Policy and Management prepares students for future leadership roles by combining classroom learning with real-world experience. According to Siegrist, students leave Harvard Chan well-positioned to act as innovators in their respective fields—forward-thinking public health professionals who can challenge the status quo wherever they’re working.

And he and Chris encourage others to join them in supporting this important mission.

“I’d like to encourage others to consider making a one-time or ongoing donation to fund scholarships for students,” Rick says. Chris agrees, adding that “the decision to give was an easy one. With all that’s going on in the world, we’re looking for ways to support what we think is important.”

Photo: Kent Dayton