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Laurel Hilliker, Ph.D.

Assistant Director of Academic Programs for the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program and LEO Lecturer III

Dr. Hilliker received her PhD in Sociology with a concentration in Health and Well-Being and a specialization in grief and bereavement studies from Michigan State University in 2011.  She also holds a Paralegal Certification by the American Bar Association.  In her first career, Dr. Hilliker worked under the supervision of lawyers in Probate, Wills and Estates, which was a catalyst for her studies in grief and bereavement.  Her role in Public Health is Program Director for the MPH and Lecturer III.

Areas of Expertise

Dr. Hilliker’s areas of expertise include death, grief, loss, trauma and resiliency; aging and the life

course; self-care for professionals in the helping professions and support groups.  In her academic career, she has developed curriculum (Certificate of Thanatology) and founded a Center to Advance the Study of Loss (CASL) in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Dr. Hilliker has held numerous positions both in and outside of academia, including Assistant Professor of Sociology; Executive Director of CASL; Continuing Care Coordinator for grief support groups and others.

Professional Associations & Service

Dr. Hilliker is a member of several professional associations including the American Public Health Association, American Sociological Association, and the Association of Death Education and Counseling.  She has served as a conference panelist and on the steering committee for Art for Charlie Foundation (now Children’s Palliative Care Coalition of Michigan) since 2014 and has served as an on-call advisor for a local community GriefShare program.  She is a requested guest speaker in college courses and for community groups and has given presentations for chaplains at Hurley Hospital on unacknowledged grief, for professionals at Valley Area Agency on Aging on topics such as self-care and for Visiting Nurse Services of Michigan. 

Teaching Experience

Dr. Hilliker has taught both undergraduate and graduate students and her teaching experience encompasses courses taught at four higher-learning institutions, namely Lansing Community College, Michigan State University, Park University and currently University of Michigan-Flint.  In the discipline of sociology, courses taught comprise the introductory course, health and illness, social problems, society and the individual, death dying and bereavement, ethical and legal issues in end of life and social inequality.  Public health courses have included topics related to long-term care, health care, research methods and personal health.