New University center will focus resources on public health promotion

Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion will support research and programming

A substantial new asset in the fight against preventable disease is coming to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Syracuse University alumnus Sid Lerner '53 and his wife, Helaine, have provided support to establish the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at the Maxwell School.

lernerLerner, a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, is the marketing guru who worked with the creative team behind the "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" advertising campaign. He now uses his marketing prowess to advance public health, encouraging people to exercise more and to eat healthier through the Monday Campaigns, which have become a global force in the fight against preventable disease.

The Lerner Center will provide a forum where the art of communication and the science of public health and public policy can come together, enabling the creation and implementation of programs that are motivating, sustainable and designed to improve community well-being and reduce chronic disease. Preventable chronic illnesses account for 70 percent of deaths and for the expenditure of more than 75 percent of direct health care costs in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"Our goal is to work in partnership to identify, implement and measure best practices locally, and to be a laboratory for the development of models and strategies that can be replicated nationally," says Thomas Dennison, who has been named the Center's first director.

Public outreach through surveys and a series of forums will be among the first priorities of the Center. The approach squares perfectly with the University's vision, Scholarship in Action. "Sid Lerner's work exemplifies the kind of broad collaboration needed to take on the complex and intertwined pressing issues of our day," says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. "Through the Monday Campaigns, Lerner has galvanized action across the public, private and nonprofit sectors by supporting people and organizations in their own healthy activities. The national movement he's helped catalyze has strong local resonance, including here on campus, where we've been ramping up efforts to help students, faculty and staff live healthier lifestyles."

healthymondayThe Monday Campaigns are a national movement backed by leading public health schools. Every Monday, individuals and organizations join together to commit to healthy behaviors that can help end preventable chronic diseases. Why Monday? It's the January of the week, a natural agenda-setter, and the perfect time for a fresh start. Research shows that more people begin exercising, start a diet, or quit smoking on Monday than on any other day.

The new Lerner Center will greatly expand the ongoing Monday Campaigns locally, with reinvigorated programming on campus, and, for the first time, will establish programs and partnerships throughout Onondaga County. "The Monday Campaigns help people by offering a weekly prompt that can support people in starting and sustaining healthy behaviors," Sid Lerner says. "Programs like Meatless Monday, our first and best-known campaign, are an easy, simple and memorable way of doing something good for yourself and the country."

The Monday spirit is already taking hold. On the SU Campus, Healthy Monday will continue its partnerships with Hendricks Chapel, dining, recreation, and SU Health Services, and expand programming across campus. "The Lerners have been generously supporting Monday activities on campus for a number of years," Cantor says. "I am very much looking forward to seeing those offerings expanded here and introduced to the entire county. Our individual and collective health is key to our community's sustainability and prosperity. The Lerner Center's activities have my full support."

Upstate University Hospital President David Smith says he plans to roll out the Monday Campaigns at the hospital with the Lerner Center's help. "The center also enhances our joint master in public health program with the Maxwell School," Smith says. "Maxwell is already the top public affairs school in the country. This new center makes that partnership just that much more rewarding for our students."

Maxwell Dean James Steinberg agrees. "Engaging individuals and communities is a critical component of developing an effective public health strategy for the nation. The Lerner Center will put Syracuse University and the Maxwell School at the forefront of innovative strategies to address one of the most pressing public policy challenges of our time."

The Lerner Center will continue to work closely with the Newhouse School, where the Monday Campaigns were previously based on campus.

"The Monday Campaigns are a great laboratory for our students," Newhouse School Dean Lorraine Branham says. "This new funding, along with the public health expertise at the Maxwell School, will allow for much more programming on campus, and allow us to expand that programming off campus. That makes the project a truly powerful vehicle for Scholarship in Action."

To learn more about the Lerner Center or to inquire about starting a Healthy Monday Campaign at your organization or business, contact program director Rebecca Bostwick at lerner@syr.edu or (315)443-4526. Also, visit http://lerner.syr.edu and http://healthymonday.syr.edu.