Regents name BGSU center of excellence in health, wellness

BOWLING GREEN, O.—The Ohio Board of Regents on Feb. 19 formally accepted Bowling Green State University as a center of excellence in “Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan.” Gov. Ted Strickland and OBOR Chancellor Eric Fingerhut made the announcement during a meeting in Cleveland at which Dr. Linda Petrosino, dean of BGSU’s College of Health and Human Services, presented the University’s programs.

The center becomes BGSU’s second, following “Sustainability and the Environment,” which was designated last October. Under the University System of Ohio and according to the governor’s 10-year Strategic Plan for Higher Education, centers of excellence should be multidisciplinary, of high enough quality to attract students and faculty, and contribute to the economic development of the state.

BGSU’s health and wellness programs comprise a “networked center of excellence without walls,” according to Petrosino.

With more than 100 faculty members and nearly 5,000 students in 78 academic programs, research units and student activity groups, and $10.7 million in research grant awards and $900,000 in student support grants in the broad field of health and wellness, as well as more than 300 partnerships with health organizations and agencies in the community, BGSU has had a strong, if not unified, commitment to the overall topic, Petrosino told BGSU trustees last December. By forming a center of excellence, the University recognizes the “strength, depth, breadth and tremendous impact of health and wellness across the lifespan programs at BGSU,” she said. And rather than a trendy development, she added, community partnerships “have been the very fabric of our health and wellness programs here for many years.”

Bowling Green’s distinctive approach centers not on the medical aspect of curing disease, like the University of Toledo and its medical college, but on the promotion of wellness and improved quality of life—which in turn can help produce lower costs for health care and less lost time at work for Ohio’s citizens.

The center of excellence advances the University’s distinctive educational role, builds on its nationally recognized research programs and focuses renewed emphasis on community partnerships for disease prevention and healthy behaviors.

The center encompasses dual perspectives: human ecology, or the interaction of people with their natural, social and created environments, and lifespan development, or the growth and development of an individual from before birth through old age. From programs in environmental health to speech and hearing to marriage research, BGSU addresses both perspectives, Petrosino said.

And with career shifts predicted due to the changing economy, many older workers are expected to return to school, she added. “Since health and wellness will become increasingly important, this presents an opportunity for BGSU.”

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(Posted February 23, 2010 )