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UAlbany's Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program Expands National Work in Substance Abuse Prevention

Contact: Michael Parker (518) 437-4980

Ashley Fitch, Class of 2004, and M. Dolores Cimini, director of Middle Earth, are presented with a check for $10,000 from Dennis Sugumele of the Dominion Foundation (back row, right) as James P. Doellefeld, vice president for Student Affairs looks on.  
Ashley Fitch, Class of 2004, and M. Dolores Cimini, director of Middle Earth, are presented with a check for $10,000 from Dennis Sugumele of the Dominion Foundation (back row, right) as James P. Doellefeld, vice president for Student Affairs looks on.

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 8, 2004) - The University at Albany Counseling Center's Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program will expand its prevention initiatives advancing the development of technical materials for colleges and universities throughout the United States, thanks to a $10,000 gift from the Dominion Foundation. A check was presented to program director M. Dolores Cimini, Ph.D., at a campus reception on Thursday, July 8, 2004.

Middle Earth was named in 2000 as a Model Program for its work on alcohol and other drug prevention by the U.S. Department of Education. Applying a $100,324 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enhance and expand initiatives, the program went on to win a 2001 Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Program Award by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Dominion Foundation grant will be used to develop technical assistance materials for dissemination to colleges and universities across the nation, as well as to fund conference presentations focusing on the most effective components of the program.

"The gift by the Dominion Foundation confirms the efforts of Dr. Cimini and the students of Middle Earth to lead in the development of peer-based assistance programs," said James P. Doellefeld, Vice President for Student Affairs. "Their success has not only provided an important benefit to UAlbany students, but to university communities from around the country."

We are indeed honored to have been selected as a recipient of such a wonderful gift by the Dominion Foundation," said Cimini, a University Counseling Center psychologist. "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.

Cimini has designed and implemented training programs and academic courses in peer education, helping skills and prevention practices for students at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels. In 2003, Cimini served as the Co-Chair of the 17th annual U.S. Department of Education National Meeting on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention in Higher Education.

In 1970, Dr. Louis Ringe, class of 1971, envisioned the establishment of a crisis hotline on campus to respond to the needs of students who were affected by personal concerns and societal events of the time, such as the drug crisis, the Vietnam War, and civil rights issues. In the spring of that year, with the assistance of the University Counseling Center, the dream of these students was realized, and a student-operated hotline, CRISIS 5300, was born. Upon its renaming as "Middle Earth" in the mid-1970s, grant funds were awarded by the New York State Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, to expand Middle Earth into a comprehensive alcohol and drug prevention-focused peer counseling and peer education agency. During its 34-year history, more than 1,300 UAlbany students and alumni have been involved in delivering community service within the Middle Earth program.

Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers of energy, with an energy portfolio of more than 24,000 megawatts of generation, 6.4 trillion cubic feet equivalent of proved natural gas reserves and 7,900 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline. Dominion also operates the nation's largest underground natural gas storage system with more than 960 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves 5.3 million retail energy customers in nine states.

The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in nine degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit