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UW Team Joins Unique Collaborative to Improve Student Health

July 24, 2012 — A team of students, faculty, staff and administrators from the University of Wyoming joined similar teams from 32 institutions from across the country in Washington, D.C., to learn about improving the health of their students by reducing harms associated with high-risk drinking.

The session earlier this month was the third face-to-face meeting of this unique “learning collaborative” led by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at Dartmouth College.

UW’s representatives -- Dave Cozzens, dean of students/associate vice president for Student Affairs; Lena Newlin, coordinator of AWARE; Charlie Ksir, emeritus psychology professor; Mike Dorssom, research associate with the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center; and Maryanne Jaconis, graduate assistant -- presented their own progress in harm reduction and helping students make safer choices around alcohol use at the three-day session. The presentation included results of a campuswide alcohol screening initiative.

Strategy-sharing sessions had campus improvement teams sharing approaches to pre-gaming, off-campus parties and other high-risk behaviors. The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that such behaviors kill as many as 1,800 college students a year and contribute to hundreds of thousands of injuries, sexual assaults and academic failures annually.

UW has been a member of the National College Health Improvement Project, or NCHIP, since 2011. Since joining the collaborative, the university has seen several improvements in student health and safety across campus, including the early identification of students struggling with alcohol abuse, and referral to appropriate care.

President Tom Buchanan says UW’s involvement in the NCHIP collaborative has provided the university with new insights into harm reduction.

“This national collaborative is pulling together some of the best schools in the nation to target one of the most critical health and safety issues in higher education today – high-risk drinking,” he says. “UW already has a very effective alcohol education program, but NCHIP has given our team of professionals the opportunity to work with and learn from other universities facing the same issues.”

Jim Yong Kim created NCHIP in 2010 while in his role as Dartmouth’s president. Kim recently left Dartmouth to serve as the president of the World Bank, but attended the event in the nation’s capital to reaffirm his commitment to the effort, as did current Dartmouth President Carol Folt.

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