Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

MU to Kick Off Wellness Program with Walk to Wellness Health Fair

Wellness Initiative is Win/Win for University and Employees

Oct. 23, 2007

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

COLUMBIA, Mo. – As obesity climbs to the top of the charts as the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and health care costs continue to rise, more employers are recognizing the importance of wellness and prevention. Approximately 2,500 University of Missouri will participate in an upcoming health fair to kick off a new wellness program.
 “Health issues have a key impact on work productivity, job satisfaction and containing health care costs,” said Laura Schopp, director of Healthy for Life: The T.E. Atkins University of Missouri Wellness Program. “Most employers that sponsor wellness programs have a significant return on the investment, ranging from three to as much as seven dollars for every dollar invested. Providing a wellness program lowers health care costs, reduces absenteeism, improves morale, and is just the right thing to do for our faculty and staff.”
 The “Walk to Wellness” event takes place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, Oct. 29 in the ballroom at the Reynolds Alumni Center on the MU campus and is open to MU faculty and staff and University of Missouri System personnel who work in Columbia. Curator Emeritus Thomas Akins and interim UM System President Gordon Lamb will welcome participants at 8:30 a.m. The event includes free health screenings for benefit-eligible employees. These screenings include: blood pressure, fasting glucose, cholesterol, and skin cancer. Height and weight of participants also will be recorded. Employees will have the opportunity to enroll in tobacco cessation programs, stress reduction workshops, weight management classes and low-cost exercise programs.
 “Our investment in employee wellness is the result of a systematic strategic planning process. As a result, we will target investment in areas most likely to yield positive health outcomes for our workforce and financial outcomes for our University,” said UM System Vice President of Human Resources Ken Hutchinson.
 For the first time, flu shots will be available to benefit-eligible employees at the health fair – thanks to a collaboration between the wellness program and the University of Missouri Benefits Program. Employees also will have the opportunity to participate in a health assessment, a voluntary online health survey that will help the wellness program target scarce health promotion resources in the most effective manner.

 “This is a way of giving back to our employees and investing in the University’s future,” said MU Chancellor Brady Deaton. “We know that our chief asset is our people and a healthy workforce is essential to fulfilling our mission of teaching, research, service and economic development.”
 The program is named “Healthy for Life: The T.E. Atkins University of Missouri Wellness Program” in honor of Tom Atkins, a former member of the Board of Curators who initiated the idea and donated $105,000 to the effort. Long range goals include full integration of the research, teaching and service functions of the University with respect to health promotion and workplace wellness.
 “We are in a unique position in that most corporate wellness programs do not have the internal health and wellness resources that we as a land-grant, multi-campus university system have,” Schopp said. “We have considerable health expertise, excellent facilities and superb researchers, and we will bring all of these assets to bear on improving our employee’s health.”