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Release: Oct 26, 1999

UI and Stepping Up Project honored for encouraging character development

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa and the Stepping Up Project, a community/campus coalition to reduce the harmful effects of excessive alcohol consumption, have been honored for supporting character development among college students. The UI and Stepping Up are profiled in The Templeton Guide: Colleges that Encourage Character Development, a guidebook released nationwide Oct. 22.

The guidebook is the work of the John Templeton Foundation, headquartered in Radnor, Pa. Established in 1987, the foundation supports programs serving three chief purposes: to encourage character development in schools and colleges; to encourage an appreciation for the benefits of freedom; and to stimulate scientific research on the relationship between spirituality and health.

The Stepping Up Program is among 405 programs profiled in the guidebook. In addition to honoring substance abuse prevention programs such as Stepping Up, the guidebook also profiles programs addressing academic honesty, volunteer service, student leadership, faculty and curriculum, spiritual growth, civic education, and character and sexuality.

In citing the UI and Stepping Up, the guidebook noted several initiatives aimed at changing a culture of high-risk drinking:

-- "Absolute Reality," an advertising campaign sponsored by Health Iowa, the educational arm of UI Student Health Service. The ads seek to dispel misperceptions about drinking by citing surveys demonstrating that excessive drinking is not as widespread among college students as students think it is.

-- Efforts by UI fraternities to eliminate alcohol from social events at their houses. The guidebook notes that UI Greeks "took this initiative on their own, realizing that it was time for these organizations to return to their mission of community service, academic excellence, and brotherhood."

-- Alcohol-free tailgating. The UI has designated one parking lot at football games as "alcohol free." A number of student and community organizations have contributed to that effort.

-- Community outreach. Realizing that excessive drinking is also a problem in high schools, Stepping Up has forged a partnership with United Action for Youth through which students from Iowa City’s three high schools meet on a weekly basis to plan alcohol-free activities.

"The University of Iowa’s strong commitment to character development and the strength of its Stepping Up Program make it a model for colleges and universities nationwide," said Arthur J. Schwartz, Ed.D, director of Character Development Programs at the Templeton Foundation. Intended for high school students, parents, guidance counselors, college administrators, trustees, faculty, and alumni, The Templeton Guide recognizes programs that represent the best practices in the field of character development during the college years. The programs were chosen through a process that considered the clarity of vision and statement of purpose; institutional resources; involvement of institutional leaders; impact on students, faculty, campus and community; integration into the core curriculum or academic study; longevity; external awards and recognition; and assessment.

The Stepping Up Project is part of a national program called "A Matter of Degree: The National Effort to Reduce High-Risk Drinking Among College Students." The program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Princeton, N.J., and is administered by the American Medical Association Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. Other universities involved in the Matter of Degree program are Colorado (Boulder), Delaware, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Lehigh (Bethlehem, Pa.), Louisiana State, Nebraska (Lincoln), Vermont, and Wisconsin (Madison).