Willis-Knighton Health System, the region’s largest healthcare provider, has donated $205,000 to Grambling State University, which is a landmark in the university’s philanthropic history.
"It's the largest single donation in anyone's recent memory, and with all that's going on with the state budget cuts, it comes at a critical moment,” said Grambling President Frank G. Pogue. "This donation will help us continue to attract high-level faculty in the healthcare area, further helping us enhance our academic profile and providing students with the type of quality education they deserve."
Willis-Knighton Health System President and CEO James K. Elrod indicated that the donation will create three endowed professorships in the health sciences, named after Sen. Gregory Tarver, for a professorship in nursing education; Shreveport Councilman Joe Shyne, for a professorship in nursing practice, and Nila Willhoite, for a health administration professorship.
"At Willis-Knighton, we believe our service to be a ministry of healing," Elrod told the audience at the second annual Port City Gala in Shreveport. "We've been blessed to grow into the largest hospital in about a six-state region, but we're also aware that to whom much is given, much is required."
Elrod noted that the naming of the professorships honors people whose commitment to education and healthcare make them worthy of the naming honor.
Sen. Gregory Tarver, is a Grambling alumus and has served on the board of directors of LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, formerly known as Confederate Memorial Medical Center. He is also a former Caddo Parish Police Juror, and after an eight-year hiatus, Tarver returned to the Louisiana Senate in January of this year.
Shreveport City Councilman Joe Shyne earned a bachelor of science degree from Grambling and holds a master’s degree in health education administration from Louisiana Tech University. He has spent more than 30 years as an educator as well as 30 years in public service.
Nila Willhoite, recently retired senior executive at Willis-Knighton, who began working as a dietitian, rose to an executive position by demonstrating her ability to learn, manage and follow through on projects. She managed the construction of major two hospitals, additions to The Oaks of Louisiana and numerous medical buildings in Shreveport and Bossier City while also performing other management duties for the health system and being a wife and mother.