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Hudson Valley's Janet Atwater Invited To Outline New Plan to Combat Substance Abuse and Violence

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 210-4161

FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Janet Atwater of Hudson Valley Community College has been invited by the U.S. Department of Education's "Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention" to explore new ways to combat student substance abuse and violence on campus. A Jan. 25 planning meeting marked the beginning of a collaborative relationship between the Higher Education Center and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to address substance abuse and violence problems at the 1,500 two-year colleges across the nation.

Along with 18 other select attendees at the "Roundtable on Community College Health and Safety: Preventing Substance Abuse and Violence," Atwater reviewed the needs of community colleges and considered a range of new ideas for preventing substance abuse and violence. Because community college students are often older and commute to campus, it is believed that two-year colleges need a prevention approach tailored to their student profile.

"The AACC is excited to embark on this new partnership to meet the needs of community college students," AACC President George Boggs said. "As in other sectors of higher education, our colleges are concerned about the health of an increasingly large and diverse student body. Our particular challenge is to protect our open-access mission while also recognizing the realities of today's campuses."

Participants in the Jan. 25 meeting represented community college officials closest to the problem: deans of student affairs and student services; alcohol and other drug prevention specialists; counselors; and directors of health, wellness and disability programs. Atwater is the director of Hudson Valley Community College's Health Services office, which provides Hudson Valley's students, faculty and staff with health information and medical attention.

The meeting was held at the offices of the AACC, in Washington, D.C.

"I'm pleased that Janet Atwater was chosen to represent Hudson Valley Community College," said John Buono, president of the college. "As director of Hudson Valley's Health Services office, she certainly has a thorough understanding of the issues facing today's students."

"This meeting represents a new beginning of prevention at community colleges," said William DeJong, director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention. "While the Center has involved community colleges in training events and other work, we had not yet developed a specific plan to address their unique health and safety needs. Working collaboratively with the AACC puts us in the best position do so."

The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention serves as the national resource center for institutions of higher education concerned with reducing alcohol and other drug use. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, with supplemental funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center offers training, technical assistance, publications, and other information to assist those who want to take an active part in changing the environment in which students make decisions about alcohol and other drug use. The Higher Education Center is based at Education Development Center, Inc., an internationally known educational research and development organization located in Newton, Mass.

The American Association of Community Colleges represents 1,500 regionally accredited community, junior and technical colleges. The colleges comprise the largest sector of higher education, enrolling more than 10 million students each year.

Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions: Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Science; and Liberal Arts and Sciences; and an Educational Opportunity Center for academic and career training. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and workforce training.