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President John T. Casteen III Named First Recipient Of National Award For Alcohol And Other Drug Prevention

January 29, 2003-- Note: The award presentation will take place on Jan. 31, 2003, at 8:25 a.m. at the University of Virginia in the Board Room of the Rotunda. The event is open to the media.
The U. S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention will present an award to John T. Casteen III, president of the University of Virginia, at a meeting of the University’s Board of Visitors on Jan. 31. President Casteen is the first recipient of the Presidents Leadership Group Award, which recognizes college and university presidents who have taken an active role in addressing alcohol and other drug problems on their campus and in the larger community.

Citing Casteen’s efforts both on campus and on a state and national level, the center’s director, William DeJong, praised him for his extraordinary level of leadership, and thanked him for serving as a model to other college and university presidents who may be reluctant to take a stand on this pervasive issue.

“The impact of heavy student alcohol use is felt in all aspects of college life,” said DeJong. “Even so, many top college administrators do not take effective action to address this problem. In contrast, President Casteen stands out in his steadfast commitment to alcohol and other drug prevention. The Higher Education Center is pleased to highlight the achievements of someone so dedicated who will serve as a model for other college and university presidents across the country.”

At U.Va., President Casteen commissioned a University-wide alcohol task force in 1991 and in 1997, and formed a permanent University alcohol advisory committee in 1998. On a state and national level, he has served on the Virginia Governor’s Task Force on Substance Abuse and Sexual Assault on College Campuses, the Virginia Attorney General’s Task Force on Drinking by College Students, and the Task Force on College Drinking established by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

“It is an honor to receive this award on behalf of the University,” said Casteen. “Addressing student alcohol abuse requires many individuals working together in multiple areas. Our common interest is the health and well-being of the young people who come to the University to study and to prepare for the future. I am grateful to the students, administrators, faculty, parents, and other members of the University community whose efforts have contributed to any success we might claim. The issue remains an important one, and our work will continue.”

Under Casteen’s leadership, the University’s comprehensive approach to prevention has helped the University develop and adopt several new programs and policies. Programs developed within the past several years include social norms marketing, increased peer education efforts, late-night weekend events, and summer orientation for all first-year students and their parents. Policies adopted under his stewardship include parental notification, deferred fraternity and sorority rush, ending re-admittance to football games, and specialized training and increased presence of university police.

Overall, the University has made significant strides, with better coordination of prevention, intervention and enforcement activities, more students involved in prevention, and a greater number and variety of activities and events.

“Especially encouraging are data from two major surveys the University conducts each year,” said Susan Bruce, director of the University’s Center for Alcohol and Substance Education. “Similar to national indicators, our statistics show that more U.Va. students are choosing to abstain from drinking alcohol. We continue to see high-risk drinking among students, but the rates have leveled off and are beginning to decline after several years of increases.”

“Preliminary data from our U.S. Department of Education grant show declines in high-risk drinking rates and negative consequences by fraternity and sorority members who participated in a small group social norms presentation,” said Bruce. “We are encouraged by these results, and are continually working to improve program coordination. The culture of student self-governance at the University has been a big part of our success in that it ensures our students are significantly engaged in the decision-making process.”

Students collaborate with professionals in the Department of Student Health, which developed the University’s social norms marketing program. “Based on focus groups and survey data, we design materials that capture students’ attention and show them the facts -- that most of their peers on campus either do not drink or drink in moderate amounts,” said Dr. James C. Turner, director of student health. “Along with other initiatives, we believe we are making progress in encouraging students to choose healthy behaviors because we have observed a steady decline in serious health consequences over the last several years.”

The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention is a national resource center for institutions of higher education concerned with reducing alcohol and other drug use. The center is part of Health and Human Development programs, a division of Education Development Center Inc. in Newton, Mass. Created by the U.S. Department of Education, the center offers training, technical assistance, publications and other information to assist those who want to take an active part in changing the environment in which students make decisions about alcohol and other drug use.


For additional information, contact the center by phone (800-676-1730) or through the Internet ( The center’s Web site ( provides extensive information on alcohol and other drug prevention in higher education.

Contacts: Virginia E. Carter, (434) 924-1036 or Helen Stubbs, (617) 618-2366

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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