Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Gives $2 Million to Ohio State to Establish National Collegiate Substance Abuse Prevention, Recovery Center


The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a grant of $2 million to establish The Ohio State University Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Recovery (OSUHEC). 

The Ohio State center will serve as the premier alcohol and drug abuse prevention and recovery resource for colleges and universities across the nation. The mission of the center will follow that of OSUHEC: to help college and community leaders develop, implement and evaluate programs and policies to reduce problems experienced by students related to alcohol and other drug use. OSUHEC is a collaboration among Ohio State’s College of Social Work, College of Pharmacy, Office of Student Life, Generation Rx Initiative and Collegiate Recovery Community. 

“Ohio State has a number of innovative programs in place for substance abuse prevention and recovery, which makes Ohio State a logical home for the center," said Kenneth M. Hale, Associate Director of OSUHEC. “This donation from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will help solidify and augment our current programs like the Generation Rx Initiative and the Collegiate Recovery Community, and it will catalyze stronger efforts to support similar work at colleges and universities across the country.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 1,800 college students nationwide between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, and more than 690,000 students nationwide between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report unintentional drug overdose as the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports the average age of prescription drug abuse onset is 22. Students who engage in heavy alcohol and drug use often fail academically, which has long-term consequences.

“It is well established that substance use on college campuses leads to a number of negative outcomes and can interfere with the academic success of students,” said Steven M. Hilton, Chairman, President & CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “We are pleased to support the launch of a new national center to ensure colleges and universities across the country are equipped with the information and resources they need to support prevention, early intervention and recovery.” 

“College can be challenging, especially for students in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction,” said Sarah Nerad, head of Ohio State’s Campus Recovery Community and nationally recognized for her participation in furthering recovery programs on college campuses. “Recovery programs and support services will be an integral focus of the OSUHEC. Our goal will be to ensure that schools can support their recovering students as they pursue academics alongside their recovery.”

The OSUHEC will take a four-tiered approach to servicing health care providers and students, folding services into the areas of education and training, research and evaluation, technical assistance and technology development.

“Before they lost federal funding, the HEC was a national leader and resource for college administrators and health professionals in the area of alcohol and drug prevention,” said Clapp. “OSUHEC will capitalize on the synergistic collaboration of Ohio State’s substantial resources, including national experts and nationally recognized programs like our Generation Rx prescription drug abuse prevention program and our Student Wellness Collegiate Recovery Community. We have also begun working with Ohio State’s College of Engineering to create smart-phone apps and simulations to support alcohol and drug prevention efforts.”

The OSUHEC will be guided by Clapp, who is also professor and associate dean of research at Ohio State’s College of Social Work. Clapp, who formerly served as the Department of Education’s HEC director, is a member of the National Advisory Council for the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Clapp is also an expert in Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and has managed more than $8 million in SBIRT-related projects.

The OSUHEC will have two associate directors, Connie Boehm and Hale. Boehm is the director of the Student Life Student Wellness Center The Ohio State University and currently serves as the national co-chair for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Wellness and Health Promotion Knowledge Community. Hale is the founder of the Generation Rx initiative, widely recognized as the nation’s leading prevention program for prescription drug abuse among college students. Nerad, a current Ohio State graduate student recognized nationally for her participation in furthering recovery programs on college campuses, will serve as the program director for recovery efforts.