GENEVA — In a recent ceremony in Indianapolis, Hobart and William Smith Colleges received an award from the federal Department of Education for “Most Valuable Players,” a program designed to promote healthy behavior among intercollegiate student athletes directed by H. Wesley Perkins, professor of sociology (left in photo); and David W. Craig, (center) professor of chemistry.
They accepted the award with David Diana, director of the HWS Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Programs, (right) who also served on the project.
The grant competition was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, which seeks to identify models of effective alcohol and other drug prevention programs and distribute information about their successes to other colleges and universities.
This is the second time in six years that HWS has received this honor for an alcohol and other drug abuse prevention program. The Colleges is one of only two institutions of higher learning ever honored for a second time. Among the 27 schools receiving this award over the last six years, HWS is the only liberal arts colleges amidst 26 universities.
“Most Valuable Players” was set up in 2001 to reinforce positive norms, correct misperceptions, and reduce high-risk drinking among student athletes. Between 2001 and 2003, researchers noted a 46-percent reduction in the proportion of student athletes drinking more than once a week.
In addition, a reduction of 34 percent was found in the proportion of student athletes who experienced frequent negative consequences due to drinking during the academic term. Student athletes also reported an average increase of 2.5 hours per week spent in academic activities during the period.
“Most Valuable Players” is one program among a broad collection of education and research initiatives from the HWS Alcohol Education Project directed by Perkins and Craig that focuses on the power of providing accurate information about actual peer attitudes and practices regarding substance abuse.
Recent activities from the project include (1) replication of the “Most Valuable Players” program at five other institutions in an NCAA-sponsored pilot project; (2) development of a Web-based survey to assess alcohol, tobacco and other drug norms and perceptions among middle and high school students; (3) development of electronic media strategies to deliver high-impact, high-exposure educational messages to target audiences; and (4) publication of a volume of evaluated programs using this strategy in secondary and higher education – for details, visit ahttp://alcohol.hws.edu.
With the grant of $95,000 that came with the award, the HWS program will now be enhanced for another 15 months and disseminated to other colleges and universities across the country.
Also honored at the 19th annual National Meeting on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention in Higher Education in Indianapolis were Gonzaga University, Loyola Marymount University, Ohio State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Arizona was also honored in 1999. Several of these programs used a social norms model based on theories advanced by Perkins and translated into a national model program by Perkins and Craig more than a decade ago.