Alumni of famed Student Health Coalition hold panel discussion May 19

Elizabeth Dow, Byrd Duncan, Linda Bell

Vanderbilt alumni who helped start the paradigm-changing Appalachian Student Health Coalition will present a panel discussion on campus from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, May 19, in the Heard Library Community Room.

The coalition was founded by Vanderbilt medical, law, nursing and undergraduate students in 1970 to reach out to medically underserved communities in upper East Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia. Active from the 1970s to early 1980s, the SHC was life-changing for students and local residents alike.

Betsy Weil, Tod L'Hommedieu

“Students and Social Change” will be an interactive panel discussion with former Student Health Coalition and Vanderbilt alumni Polly McArthur, BSN ’75, Ph.D. (SHC 1973-74); Diane Lauver, BSN ’75, Ph.D., FAAN (SHC 1974-75); and Rick Davidson, BA ’68, MD ’72 (SHC 1970-75), as well as current university students.

The discussion will include community organizing and the coalition brand of student activism, as well as contemporary student action. Topics will include:

  • What were student activists doing in the SHC in the late 1960s to mid-1970s?
  • What organizational influences facilitated or inhibited student involvement in communities?
  • What’s the climate like today?
  • Why are students attracted to service learning and inter-professional community experience programs?

The panel is free and open to the community. It is part of the Student Health Coalition Gathering: Looking Back, Looking Forward, a three-day conference for SHC alumni and researchers who are creating an archive of material related to the SHC.

The Appalachian Student Health Coalition Archive Project seeks to collect and preserve its historic materials, as well as provide electronic access to archival records, oral histories and photograph collections related to the SHC.

Richard Davidson and Deer Lodge residentThe archive project is a partnership between members of the Appalachian Student Health Coalition community and the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its goal is to build a unique community-driven archive of historical documents, photographs, audio recordings, artifacts, and other treasures to encourage the study of the Coalition’s public health and community organizing work throughout the Appalachian region. Vanderbilt’s Eskind Biomedical Library is collaborating with UNC and the Student Health Coalition Advisory Council to develop the archives, increase awareness and encourage participation from Vanderbilt alumni.

All images by Richard Davidson. They are part of the Series 1. Appalachian Student Health Coalition Photographs, 1970-1971, 1975, 1978, in the Richard Davidson Photographs of the Appalachian Student Health Coalition and the Mountain People’s Health Council #05613, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Slide 368: From left: Student Elizabeth Dow, Briceville Health Council leader Byrd Duncan and VUSN student Linda Bell, BSN ’72, in Briceville for a health fair, summer, 1970.

Slide 15: VUSN student Betsy Weil, BSN ’70, MSN ’71, learning how to examine ears with Tod L’Hommedieu, MD ’71, in preparation for health fairs, summer, 1970.

Slide 377:  Photographer and student Richard Davidson, BA ’68, MD ’72, with the local resident in whose home he stayed at Deer Lodge, summer, 1970.

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