TAMPA, Fla. – The University of South Florida (Tampa) was selected today as a winner of the 2018 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award, an honor recognizing colleges and universities across the country that demonstrate excellence in prioritizing and promoting the health and well-being of their students. The award is presented by Active Minds, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to change the conversation about mental health by raising awareness and inspiring action on college campuses.
Since 2009, USF has raised its six-year graduation rate from 51 percent to 71 percent, and closed the graduation rate gap regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, rare achievements in higher education. The accomplishments are the result of an institution-wide commitment built on the belief that every student will succeed when given the opportunity to do so. That philosophy includes providing health and wellness support and services to all students, and additional resources for those students who encounter difficulties along their path to a degree.
“The University of South Florida has become a national leader in student success for a variety reasons, including our holistic approach that emphasizes the physical, mental, emotional and social health of every student,” USF System President Judy Genshaft said. “Sustaining a healthy campus culture and climate that enables student well-being and success is a key priority at our university.”
Now in its third year, the Healthy Campus Award involves an extensive application process, as well as multiple endorsements and interviews. Each applicant is assessed across eight criteria, with winners chosen by a panel of prominent researchers and experts in healthcare and higher education.
“University of South Florida stands out because it invests in students’ physical and mental health on a comprehensive scale and for the long term,” says Alison Malmon, executive director and founder of Active Minds, the national nonprofit that presents the Healthy Campus Award as part of its commitment to student wellness. “USF is a model of what’s possible when a college prioritizes a holistic approach to student success through a campus culture of health, resiliency and well-being.”
As a USF Honors College student, sophomore Jivan James initially felt overwhelmed by his coursework, social activities and requirements for medical school applications. He’s one of many students who have had a life-changing experience as a result of attending an institution focused on providing campus health programs and services.
“I heard about the Success and Wellness Coaching Program and thought it could help me. My coach helped me set personal and professional goals, and taught me some life skills that really worked. I became much more confident and comfortable, even earning a 4.0 GPA that semester while staying active in soccer and pre-med clubs,” James said.
The coaching program is a key part of the university’s MWell4Success initiative, which streamlines campus resources for greater accessibility and comprehensive care for students. Other recognized initiatives include an informative wellness mobile app, relaxation stations, a food pantry, as well as policy, systems and program changes based on a public health approach.
USF joins six other colleges and universities in receiving the 2018 Healthy Campus Award: Arizona State University, University of South Carolina, Duke University, Jefferson Community College, Kent State University and University of Oregon.
About the Healthy Campus Award
The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award recognizes higher education institutions that provide access to quality healthcare and take a comprehensive approach to promoting and protecting both the physical and mental health of students. The award criteria align with best practice frameworks in the field, and the esteemed panel of reviewers includes representatives from Active Minds, American College Health Association, Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, Bringing Theory to Practice, Healthy Minds Network, McLean Hospital’s College Mental Health Program, NASPA, NIRSA, National Campus Leadership Council, National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities, National Institutes of Mental Health, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and The Steve Fund. The Healthy Campus Award is made possible through the generous support of Peg’s Foundation.
About Active Minds
Active Minds (activeminds.org) is the nation’s premier nonprofit for supporting the mental health awareness and education for students. Through award-winning programs and services, Active Minds is empowering a new generation to change the conversation about mental health. Active Minds is dedicated to saving lives and to building stronger families and communities. Our signature programs include the Send Silence Packing® exhibit, the Active Minds Speakers Bureau, the Healthy Campus Award, and a vibrant network of campus chapters located at more than 450 colleges, universities, and high schools nationwide.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three, separately accredited institutions: USF; USF St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 49,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF ranks in the Top 30 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, the Florida Legislature designated USF as “Emerging Preeminent,” placing USF in an elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.