Lehigh will partner with Lehigh Valley Hospital, the City of Bethlehem, and experts in women’s health to develop an effective and replicable model to increase awareness of the problem of sexual assault, and develop strategies to reduce or prevent its occurrence on campus.
"The partnership with The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust is extraordinarily beneficial to our efforts to reduce sexual assault at Lehigh," says John W. Smeaton, vice provost for student affairs. "This complements our ongoing efforts with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to reduce high risk drinking. As we know, alcohol abuse is an aggravating factor in a majority of sexual assaults."
The grant from The Rider Pool Trust, which seeks to serve as a resource that enables Lehigh Valley Hospital to be a superior regional hospital and improve the health of the citizens of the region it serves, will enable the university to confront the serious campus issue of sexual assault. Like alcohol abuse, assault affects not only victims, but their friends and families as well.
"Improving the health of the citizens of the region requires that we find and develop cooperative methods to solve problems," says Edward F. Meehan, executive director of The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust. "Lehigh University and Lehigh Valley Hospital’s work to reduce sexual assault is an outstanding example of such an inclusive effort. It is another fine demonstration of their commitment to the communities we serve. Partnering with the City of Bethlehem and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will be critical components to the ongoing success of this effort. We are pleased to be associated with these fine organizations on such an important issue."
The Pool Trust grant represents the latest effort in a bold Lehigh University plan to confront and address critical campus issues by raising awareness, changing environments, building coalitions, and creating partnerships with community and regional groups. In 1997, Lehigh became one of just ten institutions to receive a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to reduce alcohol abuse on campus. Lehigh’s effective program model, called "A Matter of Degree," earned a second grant from RWJ in 2001.
The Pool Trust grant will allow Lehigh to compose an interdisciplinary team of specialists from the Lehigh Women’s Center, the Lehigh offices of counseling and psychological services, and special projects, Lehigh Valley Hospital, and the City of Bethlehem.
The Lehigh University team includes Steve McAllister, the school’s first Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator. McAllister brings to the position extensive training in the field of sexual violence prevention, special expertise in the area of men’s education, excellent programming and presentation skills, and a deep commitment to ending sexual violence.
The sexual assault prevention program will be developed this spring, piloted in the fall, and implemented for the following two years. Among the numerous strategies that will be enacted are the development of increased training for residence hall supervisors and faculty and staff; regular campus-wide programs on sexual violence; orientation programs and supporting materials for first-year students; and peer-to-peer and for-women and for-men only programs.
The Lehigh University Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations (CFR) facilitated the successful grant process. CFR works with the university community to build mutually beneficial relationships with corporate and foundation partners. As a fundraising unit, CFR seeks support from a variety of sources, for programs and projects that advance Lehigh’s mission. For more information, call 610-758-6623, or visit the department’s web site at www3.lehigh.edu/partners