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Arnold School of Public Health


Clyburn Lecture highlights: keynote speech by Rep. Clyburn, farewell tributes to Saundra Glover

May 15, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

The Arnold School of Public Health and the Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities (IPEHD) hosted the 8th Annual James E. Clyburn Health Disparities Lecture on Monday, April 27 at the Hilton Columbia Center. Students, faculty, staff and members of community organizations participated in a poster session, reflecting their work related to health disparities research or practice, particularly in the areas of the science of health disparities, social justice and special populations.

Five community organizations (Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies, S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, S.C. Primary Health Care Association, Project DIABETES, S.C. Cancer Disparities Community Network) received the James E. Clyburn Health Disparities Leadership Awards, recognizing organizations and projects that have demonstrated commitment to improving and protecting the health of communities and individuals and achieving health equity in S.C. Priority was given to organizations with “statewide reach” that are engaged in health disparities research, education and training, community outreach and engagement, developing health and community leaders, providing direct patient care, and health promotion and disease prevention.

The theme of this year’s Lecture, “Pass the Torch, Re-Ignite the Flame: Approach Health Disparities with Passion Beyond Commitment,” was particularly fitting because IPEHD’s Director, Saundra Glover, will be “passing the torch” when she retires later this year. A professor in the Department of Health Services Policy and Management, Glover has been with the Arnold School for 25 years. She has also held the roles of the Associate Dean for Health Disparities and Social Justice and the Associate Director for the S.C. Rural Health Research Center. Glover has also served as the principal investigator for critical NIH-funded research on minority health issues.

Dean Tom Chandler and IPEHD faculty and staff, former postdoctoral fellows and students paid tribute to Glover’s contributions to the Arnold School throughout the event. “As long as I’ve known Saundra, she’s always been on the front lines of health disparities—never shying away from injustice, never walking away from the fight, and always willing and able to share her knowledge, her kindness, and indeed, her wisdom to rectify health inequities in rural, underserved, and underrepresented communities throughout South Carolina and throughout the Southeast,” Chandler said.

Chandler also welcomed everyone to the Lecture, passing the podium to former Arnold School postdoctoral fellow Crystal Piper (University of North Carolina-Charlotte) who then introduced Representative James E. Clyburn as the keynote speaker. Congressman Clyburn began with his own tribute to Glover and then discussed the alarming inequities that exist within S.C. as a whole and particularly for minorities.

First, Representative Clyburn focused on the importance of community health care centers. These centers provide affordable, quality primary care, offering an alternative to previous trends of low-income populations using emergency rooms because they had no other options. He also commented on this year’s theme, highlighting important historical moments tied to equal rights and pointing out that the momentum has slowed. “Reignite the flame…the heating is burning low…it is fading; it is up to us to reignite that flame,” he said. “Any country that can put a person on the moon and return that person safely to earth can get rid of health disparities.”

Congressman Clyburn continued by saying that our country can eliminate health disparities if we have the will. To do so, he said that we need to make healthcare affordable. We need to do better. “This is the year to reignite the flame,” he concluded. “And we hope that you keep it burning.”

Click here to see a full video of Representative Clyburn’s keynote speech.