Chancellor's Employee Wellness Initiative

Nearly 300 SIU Carbondale faculty members and staff joined Chancellor Rita Cheng in WalkSIU, the first of many planned events in the Chancellor’s Employee Wellness Initiative.  The program encourages a healthier campus in eight areas: physical, social, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, environmental, emotional, and financial.  In addition to physical activities, programs will include educational forums. (Photo by Steven Buhman)

June 17, 2013

SIU launches employee wellness initiative

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. – The large group of walkers were out for more than just a stroll around the beautiful Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus on June 13.  They were launching the Chancellor’s Employee Wellness Initiative.

Approximately 300 faculty and staff members joined Chancellor Rita Cheng in that first step (literally) of WalkSIU, one part of an overall initiative designed to build a healthier campus.

The program will kick into high gear in the fall, and planning for it is underway now.  Program coordinators are including eight dimensions of wellness:  physical, social, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, environmental, emotional, and financial.

“We really want to help our employees and retirees enjoy a healthy lifestyle, and the great turnout we had for our first walking event tells me many people are interested in participating,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said. “Our Wellness Coalition of faculty and staff is doing an outstanding job creating a comprehensive and flexible program that will meet a wide variety of needs.”

Jason Davis, assistant director of recreational sports and services, explained that the initiative will incorporate existing programs where possible.  For example, he noted, the SIU Student Recreation Center offers many advantages that address the “physical” part of the wellness initiative, including fitness classes, walking and running routes, and a wide variety of exercise equipment.

Other dimensions of wellness may be addressed through other programs -- on-campus or through off-campus partnerships -- such as weight-loss or smoking cessation. 

Lori Stettler, assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary services, is part of the Wellness Coalition.  She noted that the initiative is meant to include everyone on campus, and also those who have retired from the University.

“The programs are designed so that everyone can participate in the physical components at their own pace, as well as offering educational programming that can be accessed over the lunch hour, prior to, and immediately after the work day,” she said.  “The flexibility of the program will be key to maximizing participation by all members of the University community.”

Davis noted that a healthier community is a happier and more capable community, one that naturally models good practices as examples for the students who come here.

“The fact that the Chancellor not only supports this initiative but also is the main force behind creating it shows exactly how important it is,” Davis said.

SIU faculty and staff may join the initiative whenever they want to join.  There is no formal registration process.  Rather, employees may participate in whichever programs best suit their needs.  Over the next several weeks, as programming is finalized, employees will be able to see a schedule and select which events they want to attend.  Some of the programming is set for lunchtime, to make it more convenient for employees to participate without leaving campus.

Employees should watch their SIU email for information about a website launch and further programming.