Clinical Professors


Christen Hairston

Clinical Assistant Professor
Clemson University School of Health Research

Executive Director, Student Affairs Administration
Prisma Health


Who is Dr. Hairston?

Dr. Christen Hairston, Executive Director of Student Affairs Administration at Prisma Health, earned her undergraduate degree (BA) in German and History from Furman University, Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Counseling, Student Affairs from Clemson University, and Ph.D. in Higher Education Policy, Planning and Leadership from the College of William and Mary.

Dr. Hairston is a passionate practitioner with research interest in culture, educational policy, diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as student success. Currently Dr. Hairston is engaged in research project in collaboration with a Clemson University Doctoral Candidate, Riley McCallus, looking at how students experience Health Systems Science in the clinical learning environment at Prisma Health. Her research, publications and presentations have varied across access and success for underserved students, European policy reforms, German higher education, faculty work, medical student community engagement, and educational pipelines.

Dr. Hairston serves on the Executive Board for the Urban League of the Upstate, Race Equity and Economic Mobility (REEM)Commission, the UofSC School of Medicine Greenville Admissions Committee, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education’s Advisory Committee, the SC Education Lottery Committee for the state, chair of the Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) COVID task force, the COVID-19 Operations Team, the Furman University/Prisma Health Joint Coordinating Committee and the Clemson University/Prisma Health Joint Nursing Education Committee.

How Dr. Hairston’s research is transforming health care

Hairston’s research focuses on better understand how people are experiencing the world around them and how in turn, we can reform systems, structures, and processes to improve that experience. From policy to culture, her interest lies in pushing positive, equitable change within historic infrastructure in need of reform. In terms of healthcare, her work looked at how the culture of the Health Sciences Center impacts students’ career intentions, how Health Systems Sciences advances students’ systems-level thinking and orientation towards our organization, and finally how we can best understand what truly success means for our health science students. It is Hairston’s interest to create transformative change that builds a future healthcare workforce that is empathetic, passionate, and ready for the challenges of tomorrow.

Key Health Research Interest Areas

Organizational culture; health systems science; workforce development; pipeline development; student success