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U.S. Department of Education Funds UAlbany Program to Reduce High-Risk Drinking Rates on and Off-Campus

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 23, 2006) -- The Committee on University and Community Relations at the University at Albany received a $175,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to reduce high-risk drinking; correct misperceptions of the alcohol use among UAlbany students; and communicate these messages to the University community, local businesses, and other college campuses.

UAlbany's Committee on University and Community Relations, in collaboration with the University Counseling Center, will conduct screening and brief interventions solely within the college health care setting, and continue the work of the campus-community coalition through the development, implementation, and evaluation of a coordinated and multifaceted campus and community-based media campaign.

"We are pleased with the national recognition and support of our Committee on University & Community Relations model program by the U.S. Department of Education," said Thomas L. Gebhardt, director of personal safety and off-campus affairs at UAlbany, and chair of the Committee. "This grant further acknowledges the success that our campus-community coalition has had over the past fifteen years, and enables us to further the reach of our message and mission."

Created by a task force in 1990, the award-winning Committee on University and Community Relations began with a primary goal of addressing issues in neighborhood communities populated by UAlbany students. From there, it developed and expanded into a full-fledged educational and preventive program incorporating area businesses, tavern owners, the Albany Police Department, and local colleges. Working closely with the Albany Police Department, the NYS Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and local tavern owners and businesses, the Committee has held 171 monthly meetings, distributed 15,000 off-campus Student Survival Guides, passed out 18,000 "good neighbor" packets door-to-door, and disseminated 66,000 door tags about off-campus parties, drinking, and noise since its inception.

Gebhardt, who serves as project director and principal investigator for the Model Program Grant, will be assisted by co-project directors and co-principal investigators Estela M. Rivero, director and Carol P. Stenger, coordinator of health promotion, both of the University Counseling Center.

The programs goals include reducing high-risk drinking rates and associated behaviors; increasing the protective behaviors of both on and off-campus students; correcting misperceptions of the alcohol use rates of UAlbany students; identifying and describing the effective components of a successful campus-community coalition; and disseminating information on this project to institutions of higher education on a local, state, and national level as well as members of the local Albany residential and business community.

"The University Counseling Center has collaborated with the Committee on University and Community Relations for the past three years to mount an ambitious project addressing community misperceptions around our students' alcohol use," said Rivero. "This grant will help us move forward in our mission to continue effectively proven strategies that enhance the quality of life for both our campus and the local community."

A national leader in campus alcohol and drug abuse prevention initiatives, UAlbany boasts a decades-long history of commitment to fostering campus-community coalitions, providing educational programs, and enforcing University alcohol and drug policies. The University Counseling Center has expanded their award-winning alcohol abuse prevention research and services in the past two years to generate more than $3.5 million in funding to promote educational programs and interventions to high-risk students.

In October 2005, the Counseling Center announced the receipt of a $225,000 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant as part of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act for youth suicide prevention programs, signed by President Bush last October to invigorate the national effort to prevent suicide. In June 2005, UAlbany's Counseling Center received $295,000 from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to fund Project First STEPS, an initiative to identify and treat high-risk drinkers among first-year college students. And, in August 2005, the Counseling Center received a $1.4 million grant from SAMHSA to fund interventions with college students at high risk for alcohol and substance abuse.

In September, 2004, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) awarded the Counseling Center's Middle Earth peer assistance program $890,000 to research two peer-facilitated and professionally supervised interventions that prevent or reduce alcohol-related problems among college students.


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