Stunned. That's the only word to describe how Lena Newlin felt when UW President Tom Buchanan handed her a check for $20,000.
Newlin had intended to be a spectator at an awards ceremony honoring Buchanan for promoting a campus environment that de-emphasizes the role of alcohol. The honor was supported by two national alcohol use prevention organizations – Outside the Classroom, and United Educators.
During the ceremony, Buchanan called Newlin to the podium. He credited her for leading AWARE, a nationally recognized alcohol education and intervention program.
"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," says 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."
As a result, UW has seen significant improvements in student alcohol behaviors and consequences. According to 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 21 percent.
Equally promising, UW students reported a 29 percent decrease in alcohol negatively impacting their academics, and a 40 percent decrease in student drunk driving.