Troy University and Heersink Family Foundation announce scholarship and academic program

Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins and Dr. Marnix Heersink share a light hearted moment outside of Health Center South before announcing a financial gift from the Heersink Family Foundation on Wednesday.

A Dothan health care leader is partnering with Troy University to train students in health services management.

The Heersink Family Foundation announced Wednesday that it has given a “substantial financial gift” to the Troy University Foundation to officially name the Heersink Graduate Certificate Program in Health Services Management and create an endowed scholarship specifically for Dothan students.

Dr. Marnix Heersink, an ophthalmologist who co-founded Eye Center South, said he has observed how higher education in the field of health care management can positively impact local practices, patient experiences and outcomes.

“For the last several years, I’ve seen how well-intentioned doctors and well-intentioned administrators are not communicating like I think they could and should, so I thought — why don’t we find ways to stimulate conversations, dialogue, interactions, collaboration to make things better for patients in the long run?” Heersink said. “So, communication is really key and trying to integrate those two sides of the health care program I think is very, very helpful.”

The Health Center South tower, where the announcement took place, will play a significant role in the implementation of the program. The fourth floor is in the process of being made into an educational suite where students, on many different academic levels, can receive training and education.

“Our goal, our dream and hope that with this graduate certificate program that we stimulate and empower eager business students to become future health services leaders and to inspire them to start and stay connected with other non-administrative parts and people in health care,” Heersink said.

The education component is just one piece of Heersink’s vision for Health Center South, which he hopes will become a hub for clinical care and clinical trials for research.

The program is open to any undergraduate student on all of Troy’s campuses. It will have a business foundation and comprise different areas of health care management, including a health care economics course, finance, management, and information systems. Certification will require successful completion of four courses, each three credit hours.

Dean of the Sorrell College of Business Judson Edwards said the program’s curriculum is designed to focus on different kinds of health care practices, many of which exist in the Wiregrass.

Another benefit of the program is that it can tie into or become a path toward earning an MBA in other degree programs.

Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins said that part of Troy’s mission in pursuing this new program was to provide more opportunities for graduate-level education while satisfying growing local needs, citing a 20% increase in demand for medical administrators in the U.S. through 2026, according to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I think the opportunity for us to work directly with Dr. Heersink and all the wonderful professionals here in Dothan adds opportunity for our students,” Hawkins said. “What we want to do is create new paths to new careers.”

Troy officials gathered at Health Center South to thank Heersink for the foundation’s contribution.

Beginning in the spring of 2020, the program will be open for enrollment and more details will be released about the scholarship available to students in the Dothan area.

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