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Karen Denard Goldman'71

New endowment advances alumna’s passion for health and coKaren Denard Goldman'71 2mmunity

Rather than wait to establish her legacy at Beloit College through her will, Karen Denard Goldman’71 has made a generous gift to jump-start a new endowment at Beloit College.

Starting next fall, the Karen Denard Goldman Public Health Education and Internship Fund will distribute grants to help students in all majors to understand how their classroom-honed skills can have a major impact in improving public health in Beloit, Wis. Her gift provides significant resources to Beloit’s Liberal Arts in Practice program, in which students apply and enhance their learning through interdisciplinary experiences beyond the traditional classroom. Karen plans to augment her recent gift through her will.

Karen’s passion for public health began soon after graduating from Beloit with a bachelor’s degree in French literature and a Master in the Art of Teaching degree. She had taken a job as a clinic coordinator at Billings Hospital in Chicago where she observed that the main focus of health care was on treatment. She explains, “It seemed so obvious: though quality treatment is vital, so is the prevention of illness, injuries, and premature death.” In the mid-1970s she moved to New York City and learned that “focusing on prevention at the community level has a name: public/community health.”

Dedication and passion for the field kept her on track as she studied part time for 14 years while working a combination of full- and part-time public health related jobs to cover tuition. Karen ultimately became a behavioral/social scientist and worked as a public health education and promotions specialist in government agencies, schools, hospitals, worksite settings, and corporations. She earned her M.S. in community health sciences from Hunter College (CUNY) and her Ph.D. in health education from New York University. Later she earned complementary certificates from Pace and Cornell universities. Currently she is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Public Health at Long Island University, Brooklyn. 

In one of her first correspondences with Beloit College about her gift in 2013, Karen wrote that she was looking to support “something that would make my gift a gift that keeps on giving – a public health project, developed and implemented in partnership with the City of Beloit community.”

Then, in September 2013, she came to campus to meet with Biology Professor Marion Fass to discuss the possibility of funding campus public health initiatives. Fass, who retired in December 2013, has long had an interest in public health. She had connected with Karen at numerous Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) conferences and was instrumental in establishing Beloit’s health and society major in 2006.

During her time on campus Karen saw how a student-run organization called the Beloit Public Health Initiative (BPHI) was an integral component of the health and society major. Advised by faculty, BPHI members learn how to conduct research about and plan programs to address public health issues in communities, in schools, workplace settings and health care facilities. 

Karen says it was the face-to-face campus interactions that “clinched the deal” for her.  First she met with a roomful of students involved in the health and society program and the BPHI. Next, she met with Assistant Professor of Health and Society Ron Nikora, who, at the time, was the incoming coordinator of the health and society program. Since Fass’ retirement he has fully assumed the position. Finally, Karen learned about BPHI from its current student leaders. Through those conversations she found kindred spirits in the Beloit students and Nikora.

“We all believe that, regardless of academic major or intended profession, all students can contribute to the advancement of public/community health,” Karen says, adding that the BPHI is the ideal training ground for students to experience the interdisciplinary nature of public health and start down the path of becoming public health advocates, personally or professionally. As a result of this wonderful day, Karen confirmed her financial commitment.

To discuss your own ideas on how to creatively make a gift that keeps on giving to future generations of Beloit students, contact the Beloit College Gift Planning Office at 1-800-331-4943 or legacy@beloit.edu.