National summit brought together university health and wellness experts to share best practices

More than 200 participants from 80 institutions of higher learning and professional organizations throughout the country convened at UF in April for the third National Summit on Building Healthy Academic Communities (BHAC). Leaders and nationally recognized authorities in health and wellness shared best practices in promoting and sustaining wellness on college and university campuses.

Held April 6 and 7 at the J. Wayne Reitz Union, the third BHAC Summit featured widely recognized leaders in corporate wellness, behavior change, health disparities and mindfulness as well as presentations by university faculty and staff experts from throughout the country committed to improving health and wellness outcomes in their academic communities. Additional activities included a special workout session with Dancing with the Stars celebrity Louis Van Amstel and a visit from Fox Sports football analyst and former Minnesota Vikings running back Robert Smith.

The University of Florida showcased many of its own efforts to champion health and wellness in our community, highlighting initiatives including the UF Strategic Development Plan, the Field and Fork Campus Food Program, UF Health Arts in Medicine and more. Participants were also invited to enjoy “adult recess” hosted by UF’s Inclusive Fitness and Unified Sports program as well as a “pop-up park” designed by students in UF’s Landscape Architecture program.

The University of Florida is one of 16 institutions that helped launch BHAC in 2013 and the third university selected to host the national summit. The national consortium, which now represents public and private universities throughout the country, is dedicated to crafting a comprehensive approach to enriching the health and wellness of students, faculty and staff as well as their surrounding communities.

Thanks to the following UF planning committee members who came together to make the event possible:

  • Angie Brown, Assistant Director for Communications and Wellness, UF Human Resources, Co-Chair
  • Kim Holton, Health Promotion Specialist, UF Human Resources, Co-Chair
  • Maggie Ansell, Nursing and Consumer Health Liaison Librarian
  • Jackie Ayers, Psychologist and Director, Employee Assistance Program
  • David Bowles, Executive Director for Recreation & Health Promotion Services
  • Erica Boyd Administrative Assistant, College of Public Health and Health Profession & College of Medicine
  • Caleb Coppock, Doctoral Student and Program Director, Inclusive Fitness and Unified Sports
  • Linda Cottler, Associate Dean for Research and Planning, College of Public Health and Health Professions, Dean’s Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Epidemiology
  • Ernesto Escoto, Director, Counseling and Wellness Center
  • Jodi Gentry, Vice President for Human Resources
  • Ambre Hobson Assistant Director of Student Success
  • Lori Little, Director of Career Development, Levin College of Law
  • Anna McDaniel, Dean and Professor, College of Nursing
  • Maureen Miller, Director, GatorWell Health Promotion Services
  • Diane (DP) Porter-Roberts, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Human Development & Organizational Studies in Education
  • Karen Reed, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, College of Nursing
  • Joan Scully, Clinical Assistant Professor, Counseling and Wellness Center
  • Jill Sonke, Director, Center for Arts in Medicine
  • Lyn Straka, Director, Exchange Visitor Services and Exchange Coordinator, International Center
  • Jill Sumfest, GatorCare Medical Director
  • Elaine Turner, Dean, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
  • Julia Varnes, Lecturer, Department of Health Education & Behavior

To learn more about the summit as well as wellness activities at UF, please visit the WorkLife at UF website or contact UFHR Communications and Wellness at