UW President Honored with National Award for Role in Innovative Alcohol Prevention Work
January 7, 2011 — University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan was honored today with a national award recognizing his success in promoting a vibrant intellectual and social campus climate that de-emphasizes the role of alcohol.
The Presidential Leadership Award, supported by Outside The Classroom and United Educators, recognizes a college or university president who has given freely of time and energy to create an environment where learning and campus life are not undermined by the misuse of alcohol.
"Through strong focus by university leadership and close partnerships between the campus and the broader community, we can significantly reduce the impact of alcohol among college students," said Janice M. Abraham, CEO of United Educators. "President Buchanan's commitment to addressing alcohol issues and success in decreasing both alcohol use and its adverse effects are models for the entire higher education community."
Under Buchanan's leadership, UW has effectively worked to change the culture of college drinking through the implementation of comprehensive alcohol abuse prevention initiatives, including alternative late-night programming, mandatory online alcohol education for all UW freshmen, and AWARE, a nationally recognized alcohol education and intervention program.
He also leads a vibrant campus-community coalition called the A-team that has been involved in campus policy changes, local ordinances, state laws, and strategic planning. He has also pushed to make alcohol prevention an institution-wide priority.
"President Buchanan has communicated a collective sense of responsibility regarding this issue so that a single office or individual does not ‘own' the task of preventing alcohol abuse," said Lena Newlin, coordinator of the AWARE program at UW. "Rather, he has fostered a spirit of initiative and cross-campus collaboration, and ultimately a sense of ‘we' around this important issue on college campuses."
As a result of Buchanan's leadership, UW has seen significant improvements in student alcohol behaviors and consequences. Data collected from 2007 to 2009 binge drinking has dropped by an impressive 24 percent. Over that same period of time, the number of abstainers has increased to 21percent.
Equally promising, UW students reported a 29 percent decrease in alcohol negatively impacting their academics, and a 40 percent decrease in student drunk driving.
"The impact of high-risk drinking extends far beyond student health to issues like academic performance, retention, and student success. Solutions to the alcohol problem therefore require a strategic view and cooperation among people from diverse disciplines both on and off campus," said Brandon Busteed, founder and CEO of Outside The Classroom. "I applaud President Buchanan for his keen vision and ability to bring multiple stakeholders to the table."
The Presidential Leadership Award is designed to highlight college and university presidents who have demonstrated innovative leadership by developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy that not only addresses the specific educational needs of individuals but also seeks to bring about change at the institutional, community, and public policy levels.
The award, funded by The United Educators and Outside The Classroom, carries a $20,000 donation made to the university or college in the name of the recipient.
Buchanan's career in higher education has spanned more than 35 years. After completing his doctorate, he came to the University as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography. Over the next 30 years, he rose through the faculty ranks, became Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and was eventually elevated to the rank of Vice President for Academic Affairs. In 2005, he was appointed UW's 23rd president.
Past recipients of the award include Dr. Jonathan Gibralter of Frostburg State University and Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg of the University of Pittsburgh. Their willingness to speak out on the issue has catapulted them into the spotlight as models for college administrators who are fighting the dangerous culture of binge drinking on campuses.
ABOUT OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
Outside The Classroom addresses the mission-critical challenges that threaten the ability of educational institutions and their students to achieve their potential. For more than a decade, the organization has been focused on strengthening the field of alcohol prevention. Today, the organization's flagship educational program, AlcoholEdu® for College, is used on hundreds of campuses and by 36 percent of all first-year students at America's higher education institutions. In 2009, Outside The Classroom launched The Alcohol Prevention Coalition to provide institutional leaders with the insights, tools, and support to develop well-informed, cost-effective strategies for reducing alcohol-related risk and preventing harm. All of Outside The Classroom's programs are developed under the leadership of national prevention expert William DeJong, PhD. For more information please visit www.outsidetheclassroom.com.
ABOUT UNITED EDUCATORS
United Educators is a licensed insurance company owned and governed by more than 1,160 member colleges, universities, independent schools, public school districts, public school insurance pools, and related organizations throughout the United States. The company's members range from small, private schools to multi-campus public universities.
As "Education's Own Insurance Company," UE understands education's unique risks and liability needs better than any other insurer. UE is committed to the single goal of providing its members with a high-quality, specialized alternative to commercial insurance. For more information please visit www.ue.org
Leadership Award -- University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan answers reporters' questions during a news conference to announce UW's receipt of the Presidential Leadership Award presented by Outside The Classroom and United Educators. The award recognizes UW's commitment to addressing alcohol issues and success in promoting alcohol education. (UW Photo)