College Health's History Paves Path to Present Policies, Programs

Article excerpt

From bringing diversity to higher education to paving the way to campus rights for students with disabilities, the impact of college health on modern society as been great, according to a special historical section of the Journal of American College Health.

Published in June, the special section traces college health back to its beginnings, charts the development of college health nursing programs, looks at the evolution of mental health services on university campuses and discusses the spread of college health from the United States to countries such as Lebanon.

"There are so many newcomers to the college health field that it's good to provide them with history," said Ted Grace, MD, MPH, the edition's guest editor. "They can appreciate how far we have come, how much work it took to get us here, and that many of the same problems they struggle with today have already been addressed by our predecessors."

Setting the stage for the historical journey, Grace, who serves as director of student health services at Southern Illinois University, opened the issue with an editorial honoring some college health luminaries, including Edward Hitchcock Jr., MD. Widely regarded as the founder of the first structured college health program in the United States, Hitchcock joined the faculty of Amherst College in Massachusetts in 1861 to start an exercise program and present lectures on hygiene.

From Hitchcock's landmark program to today, college health has continued to be "cutting edge," Grace told The Nation's Health, noting that college health has always been on the forefront of issues related to acceptance and all-inclusiveness.

Among the accomplishments, college health has helped make higher education more accessible to women, racial minorities, veterans and people with disabilities. According to a report in the special section, it was student activism that pressured student health services in the 1960s to provide access to contraception and reproductive health care on campus. And during the 1970s, campus protests for handicappedaccessible facilities and services contributed to reforms that have opened doors for students with physical and mental disabilities to attend college. …