UAlbany Designated as a Health Promoting University
ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 1, 2021) – The University at Albany has joined eight universities nationwide that have officially adopted the Okanagan Charter, designating the University as a Health Promoting University and establishing it as a member of the United States Health Promoting Campuses Network (USHPCN).
Health Promoting Universities (HPUs) are a community that aspire to transform the health and sustainability of current and future societies, strengthen communities, and contribute to overall well-being. The global initiative is based on evidence showing that people who experience well-being tend to be more productive, are better able to engage in deeper learning, have a greater sense of belonging and stronger sense of community.
The USHPN is guided by the Okanagan Charter, an international charter that calls on post-secondary schools to embed health into all aspects of campus culture. The charter began in Canada in 2015 and is now active across the globe, but UAlbany is among the first group of HPU institutions in the United States to adopt this international charter. The University at Alabama at Birmingham was the first in the U.S. to adopt the charter, doing so in December 2020.
With its adoption of the charter, the universities are also now members of the broader International Health Promoting Campuses Network, a global community that provides institutions with common language, principles and a framework that can be used to foster cultures of compassion, well-being and equity across their campuses.
President Rodríguez signed the charter at an event in the Campus Center yesterday, officially signifying UAlbany’s commitment to health and well-being as an institutional priority.
“The health and well-being of our campus community is always the top priority at UAlbany, and our adoption of the Okanagan Charter and designation as a Health Promoting University is a natural extension of that commitment,” said President Havidán Rodríguez. “We are proud to join with our partner institutions in this inaugural cohort as we continually strive to promote health in every aspect of campus life. My thanks go to everyone at UAlbany who worked so hard to launch this critical initiative.”
The other universities comprising the first cohort of the USHPCN are the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Northern Illinois University; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Irvine; University of Michigan; University of North Florida; and Western Washington University.
In preparation for the adoption of the Okanagan Charter, UAlbany convened a Well-being Collective comprised of more than fifty faculty, staff and students that will conduct a well-being assessment of all campus community members. This group, chaired by Dolores Cimini, Director of the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research, and Caitlin Reid, Assistant Dean, School of Public Health, will use the survey findings to harmonize well-being efforts across the institution.
The University will also continue its programs and services aimed at promoting mental health and reducing risks related to substance use, sexual assault and sexual violence - programs that have been recognized as a model in alcohol and drug prevention from the U.S. Department of Education and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In addition to the HPU designation, UAlbany is a JED Campus, a program of the JED Foundation that works to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s young adults.