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UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

Wellness News : February 2009

UMBC’s Valentine to faculty and staff is a new website focused on wellness in the workplace.

For the past 9 months, 12 people from 9 different departments have been working on the UMBC ‘Wellness in the Workplace’ Initiative, providing our community with useful and relevant wellness information and learning opportunities, connecting us to resources and support, and identifying various ways to integrate wellness practices into the work day.

President Freeman Hrabowski comments, “It’s important to see the connection between our own health and the health of the campus community.  The ‘Wellness in the Workplace’ Initiative is a great way to provide information, resources, and support for personal health as well as healthy relationships in our work environment.  We are committed to supporting health and wellness activities on campus, and we believe that participating in such activities will help each of us to be even more resilient during these challenging times.”

When asked about the wellness initiative, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elliot Hirshman said, "This innovative approach reflects our understanding of the critical role that our mental and physical health plays in our work and personal lives. By enhancing our efforts to help members of our community achieve wellness and balance in their lives, we also hope to enhance the open communication, collaboration, and partnerships that are essential components of a successful, dynamic organization. I hope that members of our community will find the website resources to be especially helpful as we work together to achieve our collective professional goals in the coming year.”

Lynne Schaefer, Vice President, Administration and Finance adds, “One of our most important values as a University is to support people who make up this special community.  Encouraging the personal well-being of each member of the community is a great reflection of that value.”

The Collaboration Team is very excited about the launch of the new 'Wellness in the Workplace' website.  There are so many wellness-related things happening on campus, and for the first time our community will be able to go to one place that pulls it all together, then quickly links you to information in a multitude of other websites both on-campus and off.  We will also have a place for 'Wellness News' - brief announcements about campus-wide wellness issues, wellness tips and information, and motivational 'Success Stories' shared by our colleagues.  Our 'Take a Break!' section offers various ways to take a quick break and recharge right at your desk; such as guided meditations, stretches and exercises, and deep breathing.

Valerie Thomas, Associate Vice President of Human Resources says, “Our hope is that this website will serve as a valuable resource and that it continues to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy approach to living for the collective health of our community.”

Terri Werner, Director of Training and Organization Development shares, “Working with the ‘Wellness in the Workplace’ Collaboration Team has been such a wonderful experience.  We are looking forward to the website being a way to expand this conversation and to spark ideas about how everyone can contribute and make a difference.”

Get Fit Clinic

The Retriever Athletic Center announces a new service for UMBC faculty and staff: Led by RAC Fitness Instructor Katie Birger the 3-session Rec Sports ‘Get Fit Clinic’ walks you through the steps you need to increase your fitness levels with cardio training, strength training, dietary information and stress management. For a $45 investment, participants get an initial assessment, learn how to use the equipment at the RAC, create a personal fitness plan, learn tips on sticking to it, and get a free follow-up fitness assessment to help track their progress. New sessions will be announced in Insights Weekly. For more information contact Mike D’Archangelo at ext. 5-6883 or e-mail

Campus Smoking Policy Update

The Smoking Policy was updated in November 2008 to reflect the new campus policy standard form. The new form clarifies the intent of the policy and contact information. You may find the updated policy at

In the continuing effort to improve the quality of life, new designated smoking areas were added on campus to include the residential areas and TRC. This addition doubles the number of designated smoking locations. A new rectangular smoking urn has been wall or post mounted at these locations. They are made from recycled steel. Each urn has two screens for extinguishing cigarettes before depositing. New free-standing “No Smoking” signs provide information for designated smoking locations and policy contact telephone numbers. You may find the map of designated smoking areas at

Get Fit Maryland,™

In the Fall of 2008, UMBC participated in Get Fit Maryland,™ a state-wide 12-week initiative to help people improve their overall fitness. The goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day and to make healthy lifestyle choices for maintaining a healthy weight and improving overall health. Approximately 175 UMBC participants purchased a GET FIT kit from the University of Maryland Medical System Program. They received a pedometer to keep track of their daily steps, were encouraged to do weekly weight and blood pressure checks, and every 4 weeks they received various incentives.

UMBC Receives PGMS Green Star Honors Award

UMBC received a Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) Green Star Honors Award given for the Urban University Grounds category submitted by Donna Anderson, Manager of Landscape and Grounds, for work done by the grounds shop in keeping the campus beautiful. The Green Star Awards program brings national recognition to grounds maintained with a high degree of excellence. They said, ‘UMBC classily brings a suburban beauty to an urban environment.’

Recognizing North America's finest grounds, operations and personnel, the 2008 PGMS Green Star Honors Award winners were announced during ceremonies held at the 2008 PGMS School of Grounds Management & GIE + EXPO on Saturday, October 25 2008, in Louisville, Kentucky.


In 2008 UMBC received an Occupational Excellence Achievement Award from the National Safety Council. The award recognizes members who have reported injuries and illnesses that resulted in lost days equal to or less than 50% of the Bureau of Labor Standards rating.

Because of the physical and financial toll of workplace injuries and illnesses (healthcare and workers’ compensation costs, absenteeism and decreased productivity), safety practices are vital. Good safety habits, behaviors and attitudes contribute to creating a healthy, vital work environment and support our campus “Wellness in the Workplace” Initiative. Although the award for outstanding safety practices was presented to the Environmental Safety and Health Department, it appropriately names UMBC as the recipient. This is truly a community accomplishment.