About Us: Initiated on January 15th, 2020, the purpose of the U.S. Health Promoting Campuses Network (USHPCN) is to facilitate, advance, and promote the adoption of the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities & Colleges for U.S. Colleges and Universities. The adoption of the Okanagan Charter as an aspirational document represents the beginning of an aspirational journey toward campus wellbeing utilizing a comprehensive settings and systems-level approach. The USHPCN is a support network that helps campuses define, develop, and create strategies and metrics that help define what it means to be a health promoting campus, recognizing that it will be different for each campus based on their unique circumstances, resources, and needs. Each member campus appoints liaisons who meet regularly to learn from, collaborate with, and support each other in this work by sharing resources, best pracrices, and lessons learned. The USHPCN also collaborates with international networks, and is one of thirteen member networks within a more extensive international network, the International Health Promoting Universities & Colleges Network.

Okanagan Charter: The Okanagan Charter is a guiding and aspirational document that was developed as an outcome of the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges.  Health promotion scholars and professionals from around the world gathered to create this document.  Its purpose is to guide colleges and universities, using their unique positions and roles in research, teaching and service to their communities, to be leaders for the world in developing and modeling health-promoting strategies in their campus settings.  Local communities could then learn from their example and modeling, thus influencing global health and wellbeing strategy.  The key is moving beyond traditional approaches of influencing individual behavior, and moving upstream to systems level and environmental strategies that influence the health and wellbeing of person, place and planet.

National Networks: After the development and release of the Okanagan Charter in 2015, several countries used the document as a foundational tool to create national networks of campuses that would use the Charter to guide their wellbeing initiatives and work.  Today strong national networks exist in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Germany and IberoAmerica, among others.  The United Kingdom, under the leadership of Dr. Mark Dooris, and Canada, led by the work of Dr. Matt Dolf, are recognized global leaders in this work.

Historical Background of the United States Health Promoting Campuses Network (USHPCN): Discussion about the Okanagan Charter in the United States gained momentum in early 2018, at the NASPA Strategies Conference in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Mark Dooris (U.K.) and Dr. Matt Dolf (Canada) were keynote and session presenters, who shared their advanced systems-level work in health promotion on campuses across their countries. In January of 2020, at a NASPA Strategies Pre-Conference session, representatives from 30-40 campuses gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana to discuss the Okanagan Charter and the movement to create a national network. Several campus representatives met again in April (on Zoom due to the pandemic) to discuss building a national network, and a Steering Group was formed to lead the process. Interested campuses began monthly meetings in November, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham became the first U.S. institution to adopt the Charter in December 2020.  The first USHPCN Summit was held in February (2021), featuring Dr. Mark Dooris and Dr. Matt Dolf as speakers. The first in-person USHPCN Summit was held at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in February (2023) under the theme “Centering Equity While Moving Through Wellness to Wellbeing,” featuring Dr. Kimberly Brown Pellum and Dr. Sandro Galea. As of March 2023, 217 members have joined USHPCN, of which, 21 have adopted the Okanagan Charter.

February 18

150+ Member Institutions

150+ Member Institutions
2/18/2023: As of the end of the 2023 Summit, over 150 members institutions have now joined the USHPCN.
February 17

Transition of Leadership

Transition of Leadership
2/17/2023: On February 17 at the USHPCN Summit, the network celebrates its first transition of leadership. Dr. Rebecca Kennedy transitions her role as the network’s..Read More
February 16

The First In-Person USHPCN Summit in Birmingham, AL

The First In-Person USHPCN Summit in Birmingham, AL
2/16/2023: The first in-person USHPCN Summit is held at the University of Alabama at Birmingham from February 16-18, under the theme “Centering Equity While Moving..Read More
January 18

2022 NASPA Strategies Pre-Conference Institute, Kansas City, MO

2022 NASPA Strategies Pre-Conference Institute, Kansas City, MO
01/18/2023: Led by proposal presenter, Doug Everhart, members of USHPCN Steering Group and several campus liaisons present a 73-page all day session at the NASPA..Read More
January 2

The First Election of the USHPCN

1/2/2023: The first USHPCN Steering Group election is held online with votes closing on January 2, 2023.  The election process is led by Paul Swinford..Read More
January 1

100+ Members Institutions

1/1/2023: By January 1st, 2023, over 100 members institutions have joined the USHPCN.
November 4

Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference
11/4/2022: In November of 2022 the Terms of Reference is completed, outlining key elements for the networks operation, including: name, purpose and intention; duties and..Read More
October 28

Six Institutions from 2022 Cohort Adopt the Okanagan Charter

Six Institutions from 2022 Cohort Adopt the Okanagan Charter
10/28/2022: By the the end of October, six institutions from the 2022 Cohort adopt the Okanagan Charter, led by University of Massachusetts Lowell (September 13,..Read More
March 4

40+ Member Institutions

40+ Member Institutions
3/4/2022: By March 2022, more than 40 campuses are actively involved in the network, meeting monthly via Zoom. The Steering Group calls for a small..Read More
September 1

Seven Institutions from 2021 Cohort Adopt the Okanagan Charter

Seven Institutions from 2021 Cohort Adopt the Okanagan Charter
9/1/2021: On September 1, 2021, the first cohort of seven U.S. higher education institutions join University of Alabama at Birmingham in adopting the Charter on..Read More

Cohorts: The University of Alabama joined to assist and support the first cohort in 2021 where seven more campuses adopted. The 2022 cohort added six additional campuses in adopting the Charter. As of November 2023, six campuses in the 2023 cohort have adopted the Charter. The cohort approach has allowed the campuses to work together and learn from each other, as well as having the network amplify the celebration. Each year, campuses will self-select into a new cohort to begin their adoption journey. For a full list of those who have adoped, please click here.

Steering Group

RoleNameInstitutionTitleTerm Start Term End
Network ChairChris DaweUniversity of HoustonAssistant Vice President, Health and WellbeingFeb 2023Feb 2025
Network Chair-ElectSislena LedbetterWestern Washington UniversityAssociate Vice President, Counseling, Health, and WellbeingFeb 2023Feb 2025
Network Past ChairRebecca KennedyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamAssistant Vice President, Student Health and WellbeingFeb 2023Feb 2025
Network SecretaryJulie EdwardsCornell UniversityDirector, Skorton Center for Health InitiativesFeb 2023Feb 2025
Network Secretary-Elect Brian Vanderheyden Iowa State UniversityDirector, Student WellnessFeb 2023Feb 2025
Chair of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access Joyce Dewitt-Parker State University of New York, AlbanyAssistant Vice President for Health and WellbeingFeb 2023Feb 2025
Chair of Sustainability Kathleen HatchKansas State UniversityMorrison Family Associate Vice President for Student Well-beingFeb 2023Feb 2024
Marketing & Communications ManagerRuben SançaUniversity of Massachusetts-LowellDirector, Student Life & Well-beingFeb 2023Feb 2024


Institutions of Higher Education in the US and its territories are invited to formally adopt the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Campuses.

In the US the adoption process is facilitated by the US Health Promoting Campuses Network as a way for campus leaders to strengthen and formalize their commitment to activating the Okanagan Charter’s Vision, Calls to Action, and Principles. Our shared adoption process demonstrates our commitment to the aspirations outlined in the Okanagan Charter.

We recognize that the specific activation and commitments around the Okanagan Charter will differ according to unique campus contexts.

The Okanagan Charter was a key outcome of the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges. The Okanagan Charter provides a framework with a vision, two calls to action with key action areas, and overall principles that together guide the development of Health Promoting Campuses across the globe.

The Okanagan Charter was developed in collaboration with researchers, practitioners, administrators, students, and policy makers from 45 countries representing both educational institutions and health organizations. These included the World Health Organization (WHO), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

At the conference, 380 higher education leaders and delegates, signed a pledge to bring the Okanagan Charter “back to their settings to inspire and catalyze further action towards the creation of health promoting universities and colleges.”

The Okanagan Charter has inspired universities around the world to take action in embedding well-being into their everyday operations, business practices and academic mandates.

Universities, colleges, and other higher education institutions are in a unique position to inform health and well-being knowledge, education, and research. Adopting the Okanagan Charter has many benefits:

Demonstrate leadership: Formal adoption of the Okanagan Charter by senior leadership reaffirms your institutions commitment to furthering health, well-being, and sustainability and sends a powerful signal to the broader community.

Engage your community: Use the Okanagan Charter as a way to generate dialogue and research to inform health and well-being initiatives on campus and in the broader community and nation.

Support the well-being of your community: Guide and inspire action to help your faculty, staff and students achieve their full potential in teaching, learning, research, and engagement. Evidence shows that people who are well are more productive, better able to engage in deeper learning, have a greater sense of belonging, and a stronger sense of community.

Join the movement: Become an active participant in the US Health Promoting Campuses Network, a network of institutions actively promoting health and well-being in higher education across the United States and internationally.

The purpose of this checklist is to provide enough guidance and structure for institutions to adopt the Charter while protecting the global significance of that adoption. It is not intended to be so rigorous as to be a barrier, but to hold enough structure and consistency to the spirit of the Charter for the process to hold meaning. As a Network, we want to ensure that the adoption of the Charter retains value for those institutions now calling themselves a Health Promoting University (or College).
Adoption not “signing”This language is very intentional. This is a process of the institution adopting the commitments of the Charter, as well as additional customized institutional commitments to the work, and not simply signing a document.
Level of approachThe commitments of the Charter are to a Systems and Settings approach, including a commitment to impacting people, place, and planet. This necessitates a whole-campus approach impacting built and natural environment, policies, culture, sustainability, equity, etc. Health and wellness programs and services are critical, but they alone will not meet the commitments of the Charter.
Presidential supportThe President/Chancelor’s signature on the Statement of Adoption (with attached institutional commitments) are evidence that the President/Chancelor and Cabinet understands and supports the commitment to the necessary Systems and Settings work and engaging a whole-campus approach.
Campus-Wide EngagementEvidence of Cabinet-level for support of a committee/task force with institution-wide representation that engages a co-created approach to whole-campus wellbeing (including student affairs, academics, human resources, facilities, etc.).
Potential Adopters Cohort ParticipationInstitutional liaisons and potentially other participants (including possibly communications staff) should participate in the USHPCN Potential Adopters Cohort for a minimum of 90 days prior to adoption, in order to ensure knowledge, support, and mentoring for a successful process.
Statement of AdoptionOfficial USHPCN one-page document signed by the PresidentLink
Institutional CommitmentsAttachments to the Statement of Adoption and included as part of what the President/Chancelor is committing to in the adoption. Can be very customized and at whatever stage of development available at that time (from initial draft to thoroughly developed).
Press ReleaseUtilizing examples from USHPCN and some boilerplate “must-haves” language, making sure that the language appropriately represents adoption, systems & settings, etc. The draft press release should be sent to the USHPCN Chair for review and feedback by the Steering Group prior to release. Please allow a minimum of 72 hours lead time.
ResourcesDescribing the currently commited (and/or planned) resources to the work eg: backbone resources, committee structure and membership, etc.
EmbeddedDescribing the level to which this work, the commitments, and language is currently (and/or planned to be) embedded in the institutional strategic plan.
Institution CelebrationRecommended that the adoption process is featured as part of a campus-wide event celebrating and highlighting the institution-wide commitments to the work and engaging as many students, faculty, staff, and community members as possible.
Network CelebrationOnce the Institution submits their documents to the USHPCN Chair and releases their official press release, it will be amplified and celebrated by the USHPCN Marketing and Communications Manager including announcement on the listserve, social media posts, and identification on the USHPCN website.
Document SharingSubmitted and approved documents will be shared on USHPCN google drive including Statement of Adoption, Institutional Commitments, Press Release, Resources, etc.
Adopters Cohort ParticipationAfter adoption, the Institution will move into ongoing participation in the USHPCN Adopters Cohort for continued learning, sharing, and accountability to the commitments.

If you are an institution of Higher Education in the United States and its territories (university, college or community college) you are eligible.

There is no cost to join.

Interest in becoming a Health Promoting Campus and adopting the Okanagan Charter and being a college or university in the US or its territories.

Yes.  Memberships are granted to colleges and universities, not to individual members.  Each campus may select up to two liaisons to attend meetings and have access to resources.

The ability to connect with other campuses who have adopted the Okanagan Charter.

If your campus is interested in joining the USHPCN, or if you have questions or want more information about the network, please contact us.