New endowment helps further public health

January 6, 2016 • 2016


Professor Emeritus Terry Gratton, DrPH, remembers his years of teaching for the UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health as one of the most rewarding times of his career.

He cares so much about students and furthering work in Environmental and Occupational Health
that he and his wife of 42 years have found a way to help UNTHSC doctoral students along that career path, through the new Terrence and Ramona Gratton Endowed Scholarship, created to honor the history and future of public health.

Since 1969, Dr. Gratton has been involved in the field, 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 for a position as infection control officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He also served as a licensed sanitarian for 44 years.

It would hardly be fair to say he “retired” in 2000 when he left the federal health service, because that’s when he took on a completely new direction teaching full-time for UNTHSC. Even now, officially retired for a second time in 2010, Dr. Gratton continues to lead one of the School of Public Health 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. 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,” he said.

“Our students here at the UNTHSC 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.”