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Anheuser-Busch Gift Will Bolster U.Va. Alcohol- Education Program

April 16, 1999 -- Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., the world's largest brewer, has given the University of Virginia $150,000 to support a program aimed at reducing risky drinking behaviors among students.

The unrestricted gift to the Office of Health Promotion in U.Va'.s Department of Student Health will be used for research, development and implementation of a five-year social marketing program that emphasizes alcohol education.

Established at the beginning of this academic year, the social marketing program focuses on reducing high-risk drinking behaviors among first-year students. Social marketing promotes change in behaviors and attitudes by working with students to deliver programs and informational materials that match their interests.

"Anheuser-Busch and U.Va. share a common goal of decreasing high-risk drinking behaviors," said Dr. James C. Turner, director of U.Va.'s student heath department. "The gift gives us the resources to enhance the health and well-being of students and provides a better environment for learning."

John L. Nau III, an alumnus and president of the Houston-based Silver Eagle distributorship of Anheuser-Busch, was instrumental in obtaining the gift. Chair of the College of Arts and Sciences Capital Campaign, he heard Turner describe the social marketing program last spring. Impressed by the program's potential, he arranged for U.Va. officials to meet Anheuser Busch representatives.

"U.Va. is taking a leadership role in dealing with a serious social problem," said Nau. "The social marketing program is one of the most positive and pro-active programs I've seen."

Last summer U.Va. hired health educator Elena Bertolotti to research and develop a social marketing program. She has completed a series of focus groups and distributed a survey among first-year students to gain an understanding of their attitudes, knowledge and behaviors about alcohol. After evaluating the information, she will work with students to design programs and public-information materials aimed at reducing high-risk drinking behaviors.

"There are many abstainers and responsible drinkers at U.Va. who seldom get credited for making sound choices. We intend to develop a public-information campaign that highlights what U.Va. students are doing right," Bertolotti said.

"Anheuser-Busch recognizes the validity of the social-norms marketing program, one of the few shown to be effective in reducing risky drinking behaviors," said Turner. "For 15 years Anheuser-Busch has supported the BACCHUS/Gamma Peer Education Network, which has taken a leadership role in promoting positive norms among college students. We've been encouraged by the changes in student drinking that have occurred to date, but we can't let down our guard. This gift puts student health in a pro-active position to reduce risky drinking behavior."

Terry Sieg, president of J.W. Sieg & Co. Inc., the local Anheuser-Busch distributor, and member of U.Va.'s Alumni Board of Managers, met with student health officials and Anheuser Busch representatives to discuss the program. "I am very proud of the Anheuser-Busch commitment to the University and equally proud of Virginia to have come up with such an innovative program to combat alcohol abuse," he said.

Anheuser-Busch has been supporting programs that fight alcohol abuse on college campuses nationwide since the early 1980s. Among its major efforts has been a $2.75 million gift to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Foundation to fund alcohol education programs. It also supports the National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week held on 3,000 campuses.

"Anheuser-Busch has a long history of supporting efforts at the college level to fight alcohol abuse and encourage personal responsibility and respect for the law," said Francine I. Katz, vice president of consumer affairs. "The gift will allow U.Va. to design programs that meet its needs."

Susan Tate, associate director for health promotion, believes the social marketing effort will work well at U.Va. because of its tradition of student leadership. "We hope the social marketing effort will become a model program. The Anheuser-Busch partnership has great potential to benefit U.Va. students," she said.

Contact: Ida Lee Wooten, (804) 924-6857.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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