Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

University of Missouri Prepares to Target Employee Wellness

Gift from Curator Emeritus 'shot in the arm' for Program Expansion

March 28, 2007

Story Contact:  Jennifer Faddis, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A pilot program for improving employee health and wellness will spread to all four of the University of Missouri campuses, thanks to a recent $30,000 gift from Curator Emeritus Tom Atkins.

In December, the Board of Curators approved the extension of the employee wellness pilot program in University of Missouri Health Care (UMHC) to all four UM campuses. The program was renamed the Thomas Atkins University of Missouri Wellness Program in honor of the recent board member who initiated the idea and has donated a total of $105,000 to the effort.

"I feel that literally thousands of people will benefit from this program as it matures and grows to all of the campuses," Atkins said. "The program promotes preventive health measures and early detection and health advice for the benefit of both the employee and the University."

The pilot program began in 2004 when an online health risk assessment of more than than 1,000 UMHC employees identified health and wellness needs of the employees. Stress was identified as the number one health issue, followed by weight problems, inactivity and smoking. More than half of those surveyed reported no regular physical activity, and more than 60 percent reported being overweight.

"Our chief asset is our people," said Laura Schopp, director of the Thomas Atkins UM Wellness Program and associate professor of health psychology in the MU School of Health Professions. "They are our number one resource. If we don't take care of our people, we cannot thrive in our key missions of teaching, research and service to Missourians."

The next step is a strategic planning phase to advance the program and to extend it to each of the four campuses in the UM System. Future efforts will include health assessment, intervention and outcomes evaluation on each of the UM campuses in Columbia, Rolla, St. Louis and Kansas City. Long-range goals include full integration of the research, teaching and service functions of the University with respect to health promotion and workplace wellness.

"In addition to healthy lifestyles and activities making us feel better, I believe the wellness program could have a profound impact on long-term medical costs at the University," said UM Vice President of Human Resources Kenneth Hutchinson.