June 22, 2011


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By Julia Ferrante

LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell University has joined Dartmouth College and 29 other colleges and universities across the country in an effort to address high-risk drinking on American campuses.

The Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking, the first initiative of its kind, will allow the member institutions to identify and evaluate common issues related to excessive alcohol consumption and share ideas and propose solutions to problems on and around campuses.

"All campuses face a great challenge in the proclivity for high-risk drinking among college students today and the risks it poses to students' academic goals and personal lives," Bucknell President John Bravman said. "We're proud to join this collaborative partnership of 30 prominent institutions from across the country to learn and share ideas that will help our students have the best possible college experience."

Nearly 40 percent of college students in the United States engage in binge drinking, a number that has remained steady for decades, said Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim, a leader in the collaborative. Close to 2,000 college students in the United States die each year from alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle accidents; and an estimated 600,000 college students are injured while under the influence, according to research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In addition, research consistently has shown that binge drinking is linked to sexual abuse and unsafe sex as well as academic problems.

During the next 18 months, representatives from the member institutions, which include private, selective universities such as Cornell, Duke, Princeton and Stanford, as well as the state universities of New Hampshire, Vermont and Wyoming, will examine policies, programs and institutional goals and  propose solutions.

"It is imperative that Bucknell be proactive about these issues," said Susan Lantz, Bucknell's dean of students and one of several University representatives participating in the collaborative. "We're concerned about the negative consequences of drinking, such as missing classes, doing poorly on exams, health issues and making inappropriate decisions because judgment was impaired. What's great about the collaborative is that we are learning from each other's experiences in facing up to this reality."

Teams of students, faculty and administrators from each school will meet face-to-face every six months during the initiative to share outcomes and assess which programs work, where they work and why. The group plans to publish its findings at the conclusion of the process. The Bucknell cohort includes Lantz, Staff Psychologist Hannah Roberts, Associate Athletics Director Maisha Palmer, and rising seniors Michael Higgins and Kate Domingues.

The Learning Collaborative methodology was developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass., and is aimed at spreading and adapting knowledge to different settings to address a given problem or health concern, according to Dartmouth officials. The model has been used successfully in medicine and public health. Using this system, participants are able to implement changes quickly and determine which methods are most effective in their institutions.

The Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking is the inaugural effort of the National College Health Improvement Project (NCHIP), a joint undertaking between Dartmouth College and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI). NCHIP aims to bring population health improvement methods to bear on problems affecting student health and plans to organize future collaboratives on other health issues.

Contact: Division of Communications