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$7M gift to create aging institute at USC

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Staff Report
Published Nov. 12, 2015

A $7 million gift from the largest benefactors of the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health will lead to the creation of a new institute focusing on how to age well by addressing issues faced by children and older adults.

The Gerry Sue and Norman J. Arnold Institute on Aging will include work in areas such as childhood obesity prevention, chronic stroke recovery, nutrition and food safety, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of senile dementia.

Gerry Sue and Norman Arnold.
The gift will allow the school to expand its expertise in areas such as children’s physical activity, brain health over the lifespan and long-term recovery of speech, balance and other physical abilities following stroke recovery.

“The Arnold family made a very generous gift in 2000 of $10 million to the then USC School of Public Health which was key in moving us to the record levels of grantsmanship, scholarship and student achievement that we are experiencing today,” Arnold School Dean Thomas Chandler said. “These additional resources will enable more of our programs to become top ranked, and promote more collaborative efforts across more disciplines.”

The gift also will help the school’s faculty to begin new research projects and continue the outreach and community service that’s provided to South Carolinians, Chandler said.

Over the past several years, the Arnold School has hired more than 30 faculty members with expertise in lifestyle and age-related prevention of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and stroke through creative intervention and education programs, health policy development and environmental assessment.

In addition, the institute will tap into the Arnold School’s extensive research into children’s physical activity.

Chandler said the gift will be help faculty members leverage research center grants from the National Institutes of Health and other federal and foundation agencies.

“Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold were adamant in particular about one use for this generous gift. They believe these funds should be leveraged – doubled or tripled at every opportunity – by major competitive grants from across the U.S. and abroad,” Chandler said.

The Arnolds, for whom the Arnold School of Public Health was named in 2000, said they hope this gift of $1 million a year over the next seven years will help improve the health of South Carolinians, especially those in the greatest need.

“Often poor people or less affluent people don’t get good advice – on healthy eating, exercise,” Norman Arnold said. “If we can help in that regard, that’s wonderful. It’s a real blessing. Good health, eating and exercise go hand-in-hand. It’s easy to do if you have resources, but you’ve got to know what to do.”

When the Arnolds established the original endowment for the school in 2000, the university honored the couple by naming the School of Public Health after Norman J. Arnold. The University of South Carolina established a school of public health in 1975, becoming the 19th public health school in the United States. It remains the only school of public health in South Carolina.

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