Former SPH Dean Dr. Susan Scrimshaw Gives Back

Susan Scrimshaw headshot.

Susan Scrimshaw, PhD, believes she developed her love of helping people as a child in rural Guatemala in the back of a Jeep. She spent her formative years traveling from remote village to village in the Central American country, where she often assisted her father, Dr. Nevin Scrimshaw, a pioneer nutritionist who the NY Times stated “improved the health of millions of children in developing countries by creating low-cost vegetable-based foods for weaning infants.”

It was in those villages where Dr. Scrimshaw, who served at the UIC SPH Dean from 1994 – 2006, grew to admire the Latin culture and learned how to give back.  “I grew up identifying as a Latin woman, which shaped who I am and how I worked,” Dr. Scrimshaw said. “Latinos are very focused on people and family relationships.”

Dr. Scrimshaw, an anthropologist, was drawn to public health, with an emphasis in community health and applied research. “My 12 years at UIC SPH were wonderful years,” she said.  “I loved Chicago and I enjoyed working with the faculty, staff and students.”  Of all of her accomplishments as dean, she is most proud of her work with faculty and staff to raise the visibility of the school nationwide.  It was not difficult, she said, when she was able to communicate the leading-edge work going on at the school already and that she was able to recruit while she was there.

Although Dr. Scrimshaw has moved away from Chicago, she still remains committed to UIC SPH. In 2015, she added the school to her estate plan, leaving a generous gift to the school to make sure that students have the same opportunities she has had through education.  Then, in 2019 to honor the school’s 50th anniversary, she revised her estate plan to increase her first to UIC SPH.  Because of her gift, Scrimshaw is a member of the school’s Legacy Society, a special group recognizing anyone who has included the school in their estate plan.  “I want to help a student of Latin origin to complete their education,” she said. “Giving back is very important to me.”