After a Formative Experience at GSU, Luke Gregory is Making it Happen for Others
As the son of two college professors, Luke Gregory grew up understanding the value of education early on. “My parents were on the faculty at Oxford College of Emory University,” he says, “so I watched my parents serve as devoted educators for many, many years — and later in life, they chose to sponsor several scholarships there.”
Gregory, the CEO of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, has lived out those values in his own life as well. Not only does he hold multiple postgraduate degrees — including master’s degrees from Georgia State in both business administration and health administration — he and his wife have established a scholarship at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. The Luke and Susan Gregory Scholarship in Health Administration goes to a student in the Institute of Health Administration with demonstrated financial need.
Good Business Sense Meets Good Citizenship
Gregory has a special affection for the Institute of Health Administration as someone who attended the institute when it was still in its infancy. “We had a small program at that time, I think about 15 per class, about 30 total,” he says. “I was looking through one of my trade magazines the other day and it listed Georgia State’s program as having 187 students in its class — the largest health administration program in the nation.”
Gregory was first exposed to the concept of a health administration degree when he took a health law class while earning his M.B.A. from Georgia State in the late 1970s. “I thought, ‘Hey, this is neat, I can find a career where my interests in ethics and society introduce me to business concepts, and it’s not an either-or.’ I could do both: Ideally, I could be a good businessperson and at the same time work in a profession where I’m engaging with people to improve their lives. And that message came through in my classes.”
That sense of social responsibility has served Gregory well at Monroe Carell, where treating children creates responsibilities and sensitivities other hospitals don’t necessarily face on a regular basis. “What we have at Monroe Carell is a concept of embracing the entire family — we call it family and patient-centered care,” he explains. “We want to understand and tend to not just the injury or the illness or the disease, but also for the support systems, the family members, and all the psychosocial and emotional issues that have to be thoughtfully addressed as you care for a child.
“I also spent about 10 years in long-term care, so it’s very similar when you’re caring for the geriatric patient. People would ask me, as CEO of a senior housing company and as CEO of a children’s hospital, what’s the difference? And I would say very little in practice, because at the center of this dynamic is the family. You really have to enjoy and work with people very closely.”
Gregory credits Georgia State with having given him a sense of focus and direction in his career path. “Even though I have four academic degrees, Georgia State captured my imagination and helped shape me,” he says. “I wouldn’t say I was idealistic, necessarily, but I was still somewhat immature. In my time at Georgia State, my professors allowed me to understand how I could best serve the community.”
Investing in the Next Generation of Leaders
Gregory’s entire family is a testament to the importance of giving back to the community and to future generations. His wife retired from a 25-year career in social work and has served on the Oxford College Board of Counselors, most recently as past chair of the Scholarship Committee. His son, Ben, who just graduated from Washington University, is now working for myActions.org, a social-networking startup focusing on sustainability and social responsibility. And his daughter, Kate, is working as a recruiter in Emory’s human resources department as she earns her graduate management degree from the Robinson College.
As someone who benefited from scholarship and work-study opportunities throughout his academic career, Gregory also understands the value of giving back in a student-centered way. “We think investing in students is the most important thing you can do,” he says “It has a huge return, an exponential return, more so than brick and mortar. I think there’s a huge legacy in investing in scholarships, because if it can impact a young student and help that student during his or her formative years, then that individual will go forward and hopefully be successful in some way and recognize how they were assisted.
“I’m hoping that this scholarship that we’re supporting makes it a little easier for that next student who’s trying to understand how they can give back to the community, and also how they can become an effective leader. That’s really all I want to have accomplished with this.”
As inspired as Gregory was by his experience at Georgia State as a student, he says that pride only grows when he returns to Atlanta to see how the university has evolved.
“I’m just so thoroughly impressed with the history of how Georgia State started as a night school and is now growing into a major university in the South, and with the president’s goal of having Georgia State become a national research center in an international city. That really is the future, and it speaks so well of the vision of the trustees, the leadership, administration, and the energy of the city.
“But to get there you’ve got to have great students, and those great students need to be supported. So I also love Georgia State’s mission in the area of inclusion and diversity, and I’m totally impressed by how the university can reach out and be so welcoming — I see it at Georgia State. I’m just so pleased to call myself a graduate.”