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August 30, 2013
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

President forms Wellness Commission

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Cheryl Norton, Slippery Rock University president, has established a President's Commission on Wellness to further promote a campus culture that embraces wellness as an essential fact of life for all people. Wellness is the sixth president's commission, joining sustainability, race and ethnic diversity, gender identity and sexual orientation, disability and status of women.

"The President's Commission on Wellness is the most recent addition to our team," Norton, said. "We want to empower individuals to make smarter choices that influence their wellness. All six President's Commissions work together to promote diversity and inclusion, identifying and developing the character traits and values that distinctly mark us as an institution of inclusive excellence"

Jeff Lynn, professor of exercise and rehabilitative sciences, and Carol Holland, director of the Counseling Center, were appointed co-chairs of the new commission.

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

The group takes a "learning reconsidered" approach that seeks to develop individuals by using a synergistic blend of academic and non-academic University resources. The Commission members will advance awareness of and education on wellness, consistent with the Wellness Theme of "Reaching for 2025 and Beyond," the University's strategic plan. They will develop, support and execute wellness-related University programs, advise the president on issues related to wellness and monitor wellness in the University community.

The commission defines wellness as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward an optimal quality of life. It emphasizes the state of the entire being and a person's ongoing development. The pursuit and achievement of wellness is unique and dynamic for every individual. Wellness includes a blending of the following seven dimensions:

Physical wellness is the synergy of each individual's daily behavior. The dimensions include: physical fitness, activity levels, nutrition and sleep. Proactive choices include safety and prevention measures, health screenings and disease management behaviors.

Emotional wellness emphasizes an awareness and acceptance of one's feelings. The dimensions include the cultivation of positive and hopeful feelings about oneself and life, the capacity to manage one's feelings and related behaviors and the development of meaningful connections and engagement with the world.

Spiritual wellness refers to the integration of beliefs in relationship with others, the external world and/or a sense of the divine. Dimensions of spiritual wellness include growth in awareness and understanding of one's meaning and purpose in life, experiences of inner and relational peace, expression of truth and values and practice of faith and morals.

Social wellness focuses on contributing to the overall welfare of the human community. The dimensions include good communication skills, interdependence with others, the pursuit of harmony in the community and the development of support systems.

Intellectual wellness encompasses the development of knowledge and the desire for lifelong learning and self-improvement through mental challenge. The dimensions include curiosity, creativity and problem solving.

Environmental wellness is maintaining a way of life that exists in harmony with the Earth through active engagement with your surroundings. The dimensions include protecting ourselves from environmental hazards, using the gifts of nature wisely and making positive impacts on the quality of our environment.

Occupational wellness is achieving personal satisfaction in one's work/leisure balance. The dimensions include contributing your unique gifts, skills and talents to vocation(s) that are meaningful and rewarding.

Lynn said the seven dimensions illustrate that all aspects of life are connected to wellness and must be worked on to achieve total wellness.

"This is a true collaboration of various departments, staff and administration, all working in earnest to make SRU a better place to work and to learn. We understand the value of providing a supportive environment for both employees and students to be able to realize their potential when it comes to wellness and connectedness.

Holland said the seven dimensions of wellness provide a way for people to refocus away from just one component of wellness, such as physical fitness, and work toward holistic wellness. No one element is more important than another. They are interrelated, she said.

"As you exercise, you're bring up endorphins and you're going to be feeling better and more emotionally healthy," Holland said.

She said students present with different challenges related to life balance.

"In our society with a lot of stress and role overload, people need to cope better and some ways we do that is through exercise, yoga, tai chi and the other dimensions championed by the commission."

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.