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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (April 4, 2010) – UCM recently was named first runner-up for the 2009-2010 Prevention Excellence Award, sponsored by Outside The Classroom, an organization committed to strengthening the field of alcohol prevention on U.S. college and university campuses.
The annual award honors individuals, institutions, and Greek organizations that have achieved excellence in their alcohol prevention efforts, thus significantly improving the quality of student life. St. John’s University in Queens, NY, and its Chi Omega Fraternity received the highest honor.
All applications were evaluated by a panel consisting of previous Prevention Excellence Award recipients and nationally recognized prevention experts. Applications were evaluated on five criteria: the institution’s prevention mindset; infrastructure, including engagement, synergy and program sustainability; planning; data collection; and evaluation.
Amy Kiger, director of the UCM Office of Violence, Substance Abuse and Prevention Office, submitted the award application. She serves as co-chair of Warrensburg Area Partners in Prevention with Richard C. Morrell, vice president for student affairs. He credits a strong community partnership regarding alcohol issues as a significant factor in the university’s bid for the award.
“The recognition of UCM's program as being one of the elite programs in the United States is very gratifying. It is most significant because it is an award that certainly highlights UCM's efforts, but more importantly, it recognizes the exemplary efforts of our entire Warrensburg community,” he said. “Successfully managing and promoting the responsible use of alcohol by students is one of the most difficult issues facing not only college student services professionals, but higher education leaders in general. Few institutions can confidently claim that they have a good handle on this issue. In receiving this award and its accompanying recognition, UCM and Warrensburg's successful approach to this issue is fully validated by our national colleagues and peers.”
In her application abstract for the award, Kiger noted that VSAP, WAPIP and the UCM Campus Alcohol Board have worked together to implement a comprehensive strategic plan that consists of a variety of synergistic activities. One foundational component of the plan is the alcohol education program, AlcoholEDU, which helps the university to communicate expectations for low-risk alcohol use, correct misperceptions about UCM alcohol use, and educate incoming students about campus policies and local laws.
As a result of an effective planning process, Kiger said UCM now has a high degree of institutionalization, including funding and senior level administrators involved in campus efforts. Collaboration between UCM and the community has also led to regulatory improvements in the community, increased knowledge and skills among students as reported by AlcoholEdu data, an increased number of alcohol-free activities on campus, and increased local support for prevention.
“We are beginning to see evidence of success in our community, including a 23 percent decrease in underage drinking over the past four years,” Kiger said. “Our efforts are having an impact on how incoming students perceive our institution. Each summer we survey newly accepted first-year students before they arrive on campus, as part of the AlcoholEdu online course. Five years ago 74 percent of these students reported they perceived UCM as a party school. Now only 44 percent report this perception. These changes in our image and underage drinking rates have positive implications for both recruitment and retention at UCM."
In a press release, Brandon Busteed, founder and CEO of Outside The Classroom, said the organization is impressed with progress being made at many colleges and universities regarding alcohol prevention.
“It is truly an honor to work with these individuals, institutions, and organizations that are leading the way in alcohol prevention on our nation’s campuses. Their outstanding work is raising the bar in how we define excellence,” he said.