Stories & Memories

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Stories and Memories for Preservation

Memories of Elena M. Sliepcevich

“My favorite Elena story occurred in 1977 when I was a student in her reading's class.  Dr. S. was always encouraging us to get outside of the traditional health education literature.  One of the assignments was to find a journal article and to report on it in class.  I was determined to find something she had not read because as many of you know she was the most well-read person in our field.  So I went to the library and searched the stacks until I found an obscure sociology journal that was only published twice a year.  I found an article related to health and in the readings class presented a summary to my peers.  After I was done Dr. S complimented me for finding something outside of the field and then she said to me didn't the article also discuss......?  I really can't remember what she brought up because I was absolutely overwhelmed that she knew the journal and had read the article.  From that day on I never underestimated the intelligence of that woman.!

I was pleased to have her on my committee and feel so fortunate to have spent a few years in her presence as I worked on my Ph.D.  Aside from being a brilliant leader in our field she was a real genuinely nice human being.  That was the most important lesson she taught me in life.  Do good things but still be humble.  Lesson learned!!!!!”

-Mal Goldsmith
Executive Director AAHE

“My main contact with Elena was a patient education conference she organized at Carbondale (my first visit there) in the early 1970s called “Rx for Health.” The proceedings were published and their main precious meaning for me is that it was my first publication of the Precede model, a year or so before its more formal 1974 publication in Health Education Monographs (now Health Education & Behavior) and at least 7 years before we called it PRECEDE in the first edition of the textbook with Marshall Kreuter and others, Health Education Planning: A Diagnostic Approach (Mayfield, 1980), now morphed into its 4th edition with Marshall as the Precede-Proceed Model (McGraw-Hill, 2005). Elena and I would see each other at national conferences at least annually for many years after that.”

-Dr. Larry Green

“I left Carbondale in August 1972 ABD in the Health Education program at SIU-C to take a position as Coordinator of Health for District I, DODDS=Pacific (Japan and Korea).  During the summer of 1974, I returned to Carbondale to meet with the chair of my dissertation committee, Professor Deward Grissom, to report my progress in completing the research and compiling my dissertation.  Dr. Grissom informed me that Professor Sliepcevich, who had joined the faculty around the time of my departure for Japan in 1972, was interested in my research and would like to be invited to serve on my dissertation committee.  I ignored her request based on advise from my peers that one should keep the number of dissertation committee members to a minimum.

In 1976, when I had completed the "pre-oral defense draft" of my dissertation. I delivered the required number of copies to the Department of Health Education office.  Each of the five members of the committee received a copy, and two were placed in the departmental reading room for review by faculty members who were not on the committee and doctoral students preparing to begin dissertation research.  Overnight, Dr. Sliepcevich read one of the draft copies and marked it liberally with editorial comments.  She made an appointment with me immediately and gave me sound counsel on changes I would be wise to make to this draft prior to the oral defense of it, which was scheduled two weeks later.

During the oral defense, the member of the dissertation committee who had the greatest expertise in historical research asked me a question I found challenging.  This was:  "Why did you use the reports found in the documents of the Society for Public Health Education on federal legislation that impacted population health and health education rather than going to the primary source, the Congressional Record?  While I was stumbling around trying to put together some reasonable justification for my action, Professor Sliepcevich, who had been spurned when she requested to be on my dissertation committee, saved me considerable embarrassment by asking a question.  She asked, "Bill, was your focus on the perception of SOPHE leaders about this legislation, rather than on the accuracy of how this matches what appears in the Congressional Records.  I learned what many other students in the Department fo Health Education learned before and after this event--Professor Sliepcevich was the! ultimate student advocate.”

-William B. Cissell

“Through my graduate assistantship at the Elena M. Sliepcevich Centre for Health Education Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, I not only developed a new skills set of archiving professional and personal papers in a university research library, I had the privilege of “meeting” many key leaders in health education’s history. Every day I would better acquaint myself with the character of Drs. Elena M. Sliepcevich, C.E. Turner, Marion B. Pollock, William H. Creswell, Ann E. Nolte, Peter A. Cortese, and Robert D. Russell, to name a few. Through my encounters with this esteemed group, I learned the current need for health education and challenges we face as a profession parallel those of the past. Experiencing legendary events of the profession, such as the Role Delineation Project, School Health Education Study, and Arden House Conferences through my lens (one of a novice health educator), strengthened my passion for the field of health education, and encouraged me to continue researching historical aspects of the profession.”

-Brandye D. Nobiling, PhD, CHES, Senior Archivist