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January 24, 2014
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

SRU among 100 healthiest workplaces

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has been named one of the 2014 Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America as ranked by Healthiest Employers Inc., a data research company that focuses on corporate wellness.

"This recognition is exciting and encouraging for all of us who are contributing to the wellness of our SRU family," said Jeff Lynn, SRU professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences. "To be recognized as one of the top 100 healthiest employers in the U.S. is a confirmation that an important piece of our University's vision is being realized."

SRU, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary, has offered fitness opportunities since its 1889 founding. In recent years, the University has implemented a "learning reconsidered" approach to health and wellness that empowers students, faculty and staff to sustain a culture of fitness as an essential aspect of life.

Cheryl Norton, SRU president, formed the President's Commission on Wellness to provide a universitywide blueprint for wellness.

"The early success of the wellness program is a function of motivated, enthusiastic and talented individuals executing initiatives with the strong support of President Norton," said Lynn, who chairs the commission.

Healthiest Employers' Top 100 honors employers that "demonstrate strategic thought leadership and vision regarding their organization's role within the broader healthcare environment," according to the company's website. "These employers have moved beyond healthy living sound bytes to the development of a practical, effective and continuously improvement framework for creating a sustainability healthy workplace."

Included in the ranking are institutions such as the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University and businesses, corporate companies, hospitals, law firms, cities and municipalities nationwide.

The ranking utilizes a 75-question, online assessment tool that measures wellness programming in six categories: culture and leadership commitment; foundational components; strategic planning; communication and marketing; programming and interventions; and reporting and analysis.

Healthy Employers reviewed applicants' online to name semi-finalists and then picked its healthiest 100 after auditing the achievements of the institutions and businesses.

"We were not guaranteed to make the ranking," Lynn said. "To be named 77th is a testimony that we're doing things right."

Lynn said wellness at SRU emphasizes an active process of making choices to increase the individual's health and quality of life. Wellness blends physical, emotional, spiritual, educational, environmental and occupational components.

SRU provides further incentive by participating in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's health insurance Healthy U program. Participation in Healthy U offers employees' financial incentives of paying lower health care contribution rates by becoming more engaged in preventive care.

"Reaching for 2025 and Beyond," the University's strategic plan, supports wellness-related University programs.

Lynn said SRU's mission is to facilitate initiatives that promote awareness of wellness and encourage individuals to make choices and enact behaviors that positively influence their wellness.

Aside from infusing health and fitness concepts into more academic programs, SRU has initiated a number of fitness opportunities on campus. They include Exercise in Medicine, a Wellness Speaker Series, walking challenges, yoga, tai chi and Common Hour table tennis workouts. SRU's annual Health Fest complements the exercise programs.

Lynn said he expects SRU to make further progress in wellness.

"We're going to see a continued expansion of opportunities for people at SRU to take even greater control of their wellness," he said. "We are building a culture that promotes and values wellness in every individual in our community."

Healthiest Employer collects, measures and compares corporate wellness data worldwide. The company consults with wellness experts, physicians, professors, employers and human resource professionals.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.