University at Albany President Karen Hitchcock Selected to Serve as National Leader in Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4981

ALBANY, NY (March 20, 2002) -- The U.S. Department of Education's Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention today announced that UAlbany President Karen Hitchcock has been selected to serve on the Presidents Leadership Group (PLG), a body of higher education presidents and chancellors who have declared their commitment to student substance abuse prevention. Higher education officials from 31 campuses representing 22 states have now joined in this effort.

The Presidents Leadership Group (PLG) was originally formed by the Higher Education Center in 1997 with support from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to bring national attention to alcohol and other drug prevention on college and university campuses. That year, the six-member PLG published an alcohol prevention report urging college presidents to become more active leaders on this issue on their campuses and in their surrounding communities.

The expanded PLG will build upon the activities of the original group, with members serving as prevention spokespersons, change agents, and models for other presidents. PLG members will also serve to further statewide and regional alcohol and other drug prevention efforts, with members adopting leadership roles in existing regional initiatives or taking the lead in states where statewide efforts have not yet taken hold.

Twenty-six new PLG members were chosen based on their previous leadership and their plans for future leadership in alcohol and other drug prevention. The rigorous selection process required applicants to submit personal statements, letters of support from people within their institution and their surrounding community, and biennial review reports-a federal reporting requirement under the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Regulations. Other higher education presidents and chancellors who have been selected include Philip Dubois of the University of Wyoming, Gregory Farrington of Lehigh University and Stephen Weber of San Diego State University.

"Presidential leadership is a critical component of successful prevention efforts on college and university campuses, and of effective partnerships between these institutions and their surrounding communities," states Higher Education Center Director William DeJong. "We are looking forward to seeing these presidents serve as change agents in their campus communities, and also as models for other presidents who are looking to take action."

"I have the privilege of joining with the Presidents Leadership Group in supporting our common goal of alcohol and other drug prevention," said UAlbany's Karen Hitchcock. "As college presidents, we gain nothing by denying that some college students come to us with complex personal and behavioral problems. However, we also fail if we do not make it a priority to create a campus and community environment that discourages substance use and supports the quality academic programs to which we are committed."

Under President Hitchcock's leadership, the University at Albany is a leader in campus alcohol and drug abuse prevention initiatives. As one of a select group of university presidents who are nationally recognized for their substantial efforts in substance abuse and violence prevention, she was selected to participate in the president's panel "Experiences in Leadership" at the U.S. Department of Education's 15th Annual National Meeting on Alcohol, Other Drug and Violence Prevention in Higher Education. The University's Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program, a peer counseling program, was nationally recognized by the Education department as one of six universities to be awarded the Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Models on College Campuses grant. Under her stewardship, the successful Committee on University and Community Relations has made an impact upon student alcohol use by creating an effective partnership with local tavern owners in order to eliminate drink specials and other pub enticements, which promote high risk drinking. The committee, consisting of local tavern owners, university professionals, law enforcement representatives from the city of Albany and the University at Albany, and the New York State Liquor Authority, is nationally recognized in the area of university-community coalitions for the prevention of alcohol misuse and underage drinking.

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

For more information about the Higher Education Center, call (800) 676-1730) or visit



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