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Elena M. Sliepcevich Centre for Health Education Studies

College of Education and Human Services

Centre Information

History of Centre

Since the turn of this century, increased emphasis on the need to capture Health Education (HED) history has occurred among both professional associations and individuals with special interests and projects associated with various aspects of the profession. History Committees affiliated with these groups were deliberating about how to capture “HED history.” Editorial boards were agreeing to include historically focused articles in professional peer-reviewed journals. Conference planners highlighted this foundation area with sessions and keynote speakers. Professional preparation programs at nationwide Colleges and Universities expanded inclusion of benchmarks and influential individuals in their courses. Doctoral dissertations were focusing on the history of leading programs in higher education institutions.

Individuals who had key leaders as mentors were collecting materials and personal memorabilia. Small groups of health educators began conducting individual interviews and recorded conference presentations to try and capture experiences and insights of those who founded the profession. Deaths of several key leaders who were instrumental in the evolution and refinement of HED underscored the importance of capturing this critical background for use in classrooms, research and scholarly work, and service activities. Among these prominent health educators was Dr. Elena M. Sliepcevich who is widely recognized for five decades of professional leadership and contributions.

Tribute at SIU

In addition to her nationally recognized contributions, Dr. Elena M. Sliepcevich was among the exceptional group of faculty assembled at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) by Dr. Donald N. Boydston, Department Chair (1955 – 1988). She was a Professor of Health Education (HED) and the School of Medicine from 1973 until her retirement in 1992. She joined SIU to work with both Dr. Boydston and Dr. Robert D. Russell with whom she worked on the landmark School Health Education Study to cultivate the HED graduate programs.

Dr. Sliepcevich’s death on March 3, 2008, evoked desire to provide an appropriate tribute to “Dr. S” (as she was called by her students) after her historical and close affiliation for two decades at SIUC. Similarly, association of Dr. Russell and Dr. Boydston with SIUC as well as many key leaders who either taught or received HED degrees from the SIU program was a catalyst to capturing the legacies of these legends.

The Concept

After careful consideration of more traditional memorials, the concept of creating a Centre that would be both a tribute to Dr. Sliepcevich and perpetuate her personal and professional qualities emerged. The “Centre” would provide opportunities and resources for scholars, students, and other professionals as she had done throughout her career.

The “Centre” vision initially included having centralized access to hands-on primary resources true to historical research methods. This idea evolved to collecting materials for use in scholarly work, curriculum development, and HED professional preparation foundations courses, among other purposes. Eventually, the Centre could become recognized, as Dr. Sliepcevich was, for its continued support of Health Education Studies. Further, one of her consistently demonstrated values was collaboration. Creating the Centre and, later, its functions would involve collaborating with appropriate areas of the SIUC campus as well as colleagues across the country. Electronic and technological advances would allow a “virtual” dimension for broader access. Additionally, Centre activities would address widely held concerns about losing the history of Health Education.

Sliepcevich Collection and Personal Memorabilia

In Spring, 2008, the Sliepcevich family agreed to make the Centre’s inaugural contributions. Before SIUC could receive these primary materials and personal memorabilia, cooperation was needed from appropriate campus officials. From May to October, 2008, a series of meetings occurred with administrators from (1) SIUC Morris Library and its Special Collections Research Center; (2) SIUC University Museum; (3) SIU Foundation; and (4) SIUC College of Education and Human Services.

A proposal to Morris Library administrators was made and accepted that the Sliepcevich “Papers,” a key component for the Centre, would be housed in the Special Collections Research Center of the newly renovated (2009) Morris Library. Approximately 40 boxes of documents chronicling Dr. Sliepcevich’s life work were included. They would be transported from the Sliepcevich family home in Norman, OK to the SIUC campus.

A second proposal followed to administrators from the University Museum that was conditionally accepted. Professional appraisal was required for the artistic works included in the Sliepcevich family donation. Once a member of the American Society of Appraisers completed the appraisals, a Daum Crystal Flamme given to Dr. Sliepcevich (1969) by the School Health Education Study (SHES) Writing Group; and a Moran mixed media Boy With Birds sculpture given to her (1971) by the 3M Corporation that funded SHES became part of the Museum’s permanent collection.

Two medallions from the Nixon Inauguration and a pen used by President Lyndon Baines Johnson to sign the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act were added to the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Mileur Collection of political memorabilia. The University Museum has oversight of this Collection for the Institute.

Subsequently, meetings occurred with representatives of the SIU Foundation who agreed to establish an account for revenue and expenditures. The Centre would be privately funded (similar to the School Health Education Study). Further, this Foundation account was needed to comply with IRS rules since the contributed art pieces were considered gifts-in-kind.

Following an update on these activities, the SIUC College of Education and Human Services Dean agreed in Spring, 2009 to support a one-year graduate assistant for the Centre in Spring, 2009. The following summer, a Health Education PhD Candidate, became the Centre’s Senior Archivist. She trained with the University Archivist to catalogue, process, and store the Sliepcevich “papers” and other historical documents.

Health Education Leaders Collection

Two overall sets of materials resulted from this archival work: the Sliepcevich Collection and a generically titled SIUC Collection of Health Education Key Leaders. The latter Collection was initiated with materials related to the history of Health Education assembled by selected key leaders. Additional documents will expand and supplement this Collection.