News Release: 8/24/2021
Oakland University is being honored for its multi-faceted, innovative approach to supporting health and wellness among students and employees. NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation selected Oakland’s “Healthiest Campus for Michigan” initiative as its first-ever Promising Practice, a new series highlighting colleges and universities that have made transformative change in helping people achieve a healthy lifestyle.
To be recognized as a Promising Practice, initiatives have to meet four criteria:
- Collaborative and integrated approach towards holistic well-being
- An initiative that is fairly new, but has been years in the making
- Great example of how to build a framework
- Utilization of data to drive decisions
With its emphasis on creating a culture of well-being for the campus and surrounding community, Oakland’s Healthy Campus initiative fulfilled each of those requirements. Moreover, the initiative grew out of a 2018 summit with the School of Health Sciences, University Human Resources, University Recreation and Well-Being and the university’s benefit broker. The event focused on making OU a leader in health and wellness promotion by establishing partnerships and mobilizing resources across campus and beyond.
“Our work on the Healthy Campus initiative spans 12 years starting with Shape Up OU,” said Becky Lewis, associate director in the Department of Recreation and Well-Being. “We have evolved over the years to create a framework that includes a variety of campus partners to support our students, faculty and staff in their well-being journey.”
When the coronavirus hit, OU ramped up efforts to bring the Healthy Campus initiative to fruition. In late 2020, a Healthy Campus web page was created to provide easy access to health and well-being resources, a marketing plan and video were developed and the initiative was officially launched.
University Recreation and Well-Being partners with numerous campus and community departments and organizations for campus-wide initiatives. Programs include group exercise classes, intramural and club sports, CPR and first aid training, mental health first aid training, wellness coaching, meditation classes, nutrition consultations, pet therapy and more.
Organizations such as Priority Health Insurance, the Oakland University Credit Union, and OU’s benefits broker have consistently provided financial support. Funding for specific mental health initiatives is generated through donations secured through University Advancement.
A data subcommittee tracks the progress of the Healthy Campus initiative and has been tasked with implementing quarterly and annual reporting. Human Resources shares aggregate data on annual benefits usage by employees. Student data is tracked through combined aggregate data and reports between University Recreation and Well-Being, the OU Counseling Center, Graham Health Center, Dean of Students office and University Housing.
The Healthy Campus initiative is featured on the NIRSA Promising Practices web page, which includes a video and PDF detailing OU’s efforts to support the health and well-being of students and employees.
“We are excited to have been chosen as the inaugural Promising Practice through NIRSA and happy we could share our experiences with our colleagues from around the country,” Lewis said. “We are looking forward to continuing to use the knowledge we have gained over the years to help provide a safe and healthy experience for our campus community.”