National experts to highlight wellness innovations

Higher education leaders and nationally recognized authorities in health and wellness will gather to highlight and share best practices in promoting and sustaining wellness at the 2015 Building Healthy Academic Communities (BHAC) National Summit on April 23-24 at the University of California, Irvine.

More than 80 colleges and universities from across the United States will be represented at the summit, the second from BHAC. The first was held in 2013 at The Ohio State University.

“We know how vital it is to enhance health and wellness in the workplace—it leads to reduced health care costs, insurance premiums, and most importantly, healthier and more engaged employees,” said BHAC president Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN, associate vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer, and dean of the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University. “However, very few academic institutions have implemented a comprehensive, integrated approach to health and wellness that addresses the entire academic population.”

Melnyk envisioned and led the founding of the National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities, a group of public and private academic institutions dedicated to crafting a comprehensive framework that enriches the health and wellness of students, faculty and staff. The consortium was founded after the 2013  BHAC national summit.

“We in academia have a unique opportunity to improve population health and make a positive impact on the lives of our students, faculty and staff, and surrounding communities,” Melnyk said. “The summit provides a national forum to share best practices and innovative ideas to bring the dream of creating a healthier nation to fruition.”


• Dr. David B. Agus, University of Southern California, is one of the world’s leading cancer doctors and pioneering biomedical researchers. Agus also serves as a CBS News contributor. His first book, “The End of Illness,” published in 2012 and is a New York Times No. 1 and international best seller, as well as the subject of a PBS special. His book, New York Times best-selling A Short Guide to a Long Life,” was published in January 2014.

• Dr. Dan M. Cooper, professor and chair of Pediatrics at University of California, Irvine, serves as founding director of the UC Irvine Institute for Clinical and Translational Science and the UCI Pediatric Exercise Research Center.

• Dr. Peter Jensen is President & CEO of the REACH Institute (Resource for Advancing Children’s Health).  In December, he was appointed acting director, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry within the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

• Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Lyubomirsky’s “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want” was published in 2008. Her most recent book is “The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, But Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, But Does.

• Dr. Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk is currently the associate vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer, and professor and dean of the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University. She also is a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Ohio State’s College of Medicine. She is a nationally/internationally recognized expert in evidence-based practice, intervention research and child and adolescent mental health.

• Dr. Marion Nestle, New York University, is a consumer advocate, nutritionist, award-winning author and academic who specializes in the politics of food and dietary choice. She is the author of the classic “Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health,” now in its third edition.

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