New endowment helps further public health

Terrence and Ramona Gratton
Ramona and Terry Gratton

By Sally Crocker

Professor Emeritus Terry Gratton, DrPH, remembers his years of teaching at UNT Health Science Center’s School of Public Health (SPH) as one of the most rewarding times of his career.

As a result, he and his wife of 42 years have established the Terrence and Ramona Gratton Endowed Scholarship to help doctoral students in Environmental and Occupational Health along their career path and to honor the history and future of public health.

Dr. Gratton has been involved in the field since 1969, starting out with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and then spending 18 years traveling through Oklahoma, Kansas and Arizona on behalf of the U.S. Public Health Service/Division of Indian Health Service, before making his way to Fort Worth to serve as infection control officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He also served as a licensed sanitarian for 44 years.

When he retired from the federal health service in 2000, he began a new career teaching full-time at UNTHSC. Even now, officially retired for a second time since 2010, Dr. Gratton continues to lead one of SPH’s spring core courses each year.

He remembers the early years teaching a cross-disciplinary Border Health course that took students to Laredo for spring break, providing elements of social and behavioral concepts along with environmental aspects of life and health.

“This was probably one of the most unique courses I taught, because it offered students what I call the OMG experience,” he said. “Complementing the classroom topics, students saw firsthand, through field experience, what their work would be like in real practice. We met only twice before packing up for the trip, where they learned from actual situations.”

Over the years, Dr. Gratton saw the School of Public Health grow and the profession advance in meaningful ways.

“Environmental health is very interesting and broad,” he said. “It’s defined as the physical, chemical and biological determinants of health, which covers so much. Even those who practice the profession – those who teach the concepts and those who make the policies, laws, regulations and guidelines – can’t come up with a concise, all-encompassing definition.”

“Our students here at the School of Public Health will be important in taking the field into the future, to help build healthier communities around the world,” he said. “Ramona and I are happy to be a part of encouraging students through this new scholarship opportunity.”

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