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 practices, 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 Ibero America, 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 December 2023, 222 members have joined USHPCN, of which, 22 have adopted the Okanagan Charter.

2021
March 5

The First USHPCN Orientation

3/5/2021: On Friday March 5, 2021, the first USHPCN Orientation Session is conducted remotely for new members looking to adopt the Okanagan Charter. Note: A..Read More
February 5

The First USHPCN Summit | Remote

The First USHPCN Summit | Remote
2/5/2021: The first USHPCN Summit takes place remotely on Friday February 5th, 2021, from noon-3pm, Eastern Time Zone. The Summit features Dr. Mark Dooris and..Read More
2020
December 15

UAB Becomes the First U.S. Health Promoting University

UAB Becomes the First U.S. Health Promoting University
12/15/2020: On December 15, President Ray L. Watts signs the Okanagan Charter, making UAB the first university in the United States to formally adopt it..Read More
November 6

Start of USHPCN’s Monthly Meetings

11/6/2020: The first US Health Promoting Campuses Network Monthly Meeting takes place on Friday November 6, 2020 at 4pm Eastern Time Zone.
April 20

Okanagan Charter HPU U.S. Leadership Team Meeting

Okanagan Charter HPU U.S. Leadership Team Meeting
4/20/2020: Despite the pandemic, the Leadership Team of Rebecca Kennedy, Suzy Harrington, Doug Everhart, Paula Swinford and Chris Dawe  continue to meet and refine the..Read More
March 26

Start of Zoom Meetings | Next Steps

Start of Zoom Meetings | Next Steps
3/26/2020: On March 26, in the mids of the Covid-19 global pandemic, several campus representatives meet remotely via Zoom to discuss the next steps and..Read More
January 16

2020 NASPA Strategies Conference in New Orleans, LA

2020 NASPA Strategies Conference in New Orleans, LA
1/16/2020: Talk began of starting a network in the U.S.  In January of 2020, at a NASPA Strategies Pre-Conference session, representatives from 30-40 campuses gather..Read More
2018
January 18

2018 NASPA Strategies Conference in Portland, OR

1/18/2018: At the NASPA Strategies Conference in Portland, Oregon, Dr. Mark Dooris (U.K.) and Dr. Matt Dolf (Canada) are keynote and session presenters, respectively, sharing..Read More
2015
June 25

The Okanagan Charter in Kelowna, B.C.

The Okanagan Charter in Kelowna, B.C.
6/25/2015: The Okanagan Charter is an outcome of the VII International Conference for  on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges held at University of British Columbia..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, eight 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 adopted, 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 2024Feb 2025
Marketing & Communications ManagerRuben SançaUniversity of Massachusetts-AmherstExecutive Director of Recreation and WellbeingFeb 2024Feb 2025


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