U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Honors Middle Earth Peer
Assistance Program

Contact: Greta Petry (518) 437-4986

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 3, 2002) – The University at Albany’s Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program of the University Counseling Center, Division of Student Affairs, has won a national award in substance abuse prevention from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

M. Dolores Cimini, Ph.D., director of the Middle Earth program and a psychologist with the University Counseling Center, will accept the 2001 Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Program Award on Friday, June 7, in Washington, D.C. The award is given by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). The awards ceremony will begin with a press briefing from 10 to 11 a.m. at the National Press Club, located at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The press briefing will feature a number of speakers, including John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Joseph Califano, chairman and president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. The CSAP will showcase winning prevention programs from around the nation, and an awards luncheon will follow from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, located in the same block as the Press Club. As part of this luncheon, CSAP officials and others will participate in a ceremony to recognize the winners and present them with their awards.

Cimini said, "We are indeed honored to have been selected as an Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Program by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. I believe that such an honor is a tribute to the work of many . . . University community members who have supported us, our colleagues on a local, state and national level, and the student members of the Middle Earth Program who make the organization as solid, responsive and vibrant as it is."

In 2000, the Middle Earth Program was named as a Model Program in the area of alcohol and other drug prevention by the U.S. Department of Education, and was awarded a grant of $100,324 to enhance and expand program initiatives. The program is nationally known for its work in presenting social norms information on alcohol and other drugs to college students using interactive peer theater techniques. These techniques have been associated with the correction of student misperceptions regarding drinking as well as with actual reductions in student drinking, reductions in high-risk behaviors and increases in the use of protective behaviors by students.

Cimini has designed and implemented training programs and academic courses in peer education, helping skills and prevention practices for students at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. She also consults and provides technical assistance in the development of peer education programs at other colleges and universities on a nationwide level, and is a Center Associate for the Higher Education Center on Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention.

Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit


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