Bridge to better health


By Kailee Mathias

The bridge that connects the parking lot to the new Human Health Building literally leads students to better health.

The Benjamin K. Hightower Bridge to Better Health is named in memory of Ken Hightower’s son. Hightower is the dean of health sciences at Oakland.

“My wife Diane and I had been wondering how we would honor him,” Hightower said. “Bridge with Ben was easy because if you think of a bridge literally it gets from A to B. He did that with zeal and zest, and was cut short at 17 years old.”

Hightower wants his gift to serve as a celebration of life and a reminder to the community that we can give back.

Dare to dream

In 1988, Hightower lost his son in a car accident.

“He symbolized to me, and my wife, what hope and dreams were all about,” Hightower said. “This building was a dream we had and in a bigger sense the community has dreams of better health so it just all fell into place.”

Hightower has been at the university for 39 years. During his time at Oakland, one of his dreams was fulfilled — the Human Health Building. The placement of the bridge was constructed during the building of HHB.

Hightower had a reason behind choosing a bridge to name his son after. Previously, he had donated a physical therapy program called Bridge the Gap, which is a program intended for stroke patients.

“I was bridging the insurance gap,” Hightower said. “I had a feeling as soon as this was finished we’d continue with the bridge theme and this time it would be a physical bridge.”

Everyday Hightower can stroll across the bridge he takes the opportunity to.

“I won’t take shortcuts,” he said. It feels good.”

To find out more about naming opportunities, visit Division of Development, Alumni and Community Engagement at