WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 3, 2008 – Frostburg State University President Jonathan Gibralter, was honored today with a national award recognizing his success in promoting a vibrant intellectual and social campus climate that de-emphasizes the role of alcohol. In the midst of a debate among college presidents around the legal drinking age, Gibralter, along with the 17 other presidents who were nominated for the award, stands out as a shining example of the real work being done to address this perennial, up-at-night issue for college campuses across the country.
The Presidential Leadership Award was developed by seven major higher education organizations, including the American College Personnel Association, American Council on Education, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, Gordie Foundation, NASPA, Outside The Classroom, and United Educators. The goal: to highlight and congratulate the college and university presidents who have demonstrated keen vision and innovative leadership by developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy that not only addresses the specific educational needs of individuals but also seeks to bring about change at the institutional, community, and public policy levels. The award carries a $50,000 donation made to the institution in the name of the recipient.
“We’ve been glad to see the visibility of high-risk drinking raised through the recent conversation among college presidents,” said Brandon Busteed, Founder and CEO of Outside The Classroom and a Representative of the Presidential Leadership Award Review Panel. “We’re even more pleased to see practical examples of presidents who have begun to make progress on their campuses and in their communities. On behalf of all of the participating organizations, I want to congratulate Dr. Gibralter for his vision and implementation of programs and policies that have helped create a campus community less defined by alcohol.”
While the debate continues about the most appropriate drinking age, Gibralter has demonstrated active leadership on the issue of high-risk drinking since his presidency began in 2006. By re-conceptualizing the way in which his campus views the issue of alcohol abuse, he facilitated effective partnerships with students, staff, faculty, city residents, and city officials. Gibralter provided support for student-led initiatives and was personally involved in bringing together on- and off-campus law enforcement agencies that led to a dramatic improvement in the sharing of information. As a result, the alcohol issue is no longer viewed as a constant source of contention between the university and the city of Frostburg. Instead, community leaders now actively partner with University officials to change the culture of alcohol abuse at both the campus and community levels.
Gibralter created a campus-wide Alcohol Task Force that meets twice each semester to address four key issues: Campus and Community, Policy and Procedures, Alternative Programming, and Today’s Student. The Task Force makes recommendations in each of these four areas, which are then prioritized and implemented as resources are identified. As a result of the dialogue that has been facilitated by these meetings, FSU now sends representatives to meet with city groups such as the University Neighbors Association and the Frostburg Business and Professional Association. He has personally met with these groups and reached out on multiple occasions to have discussions with alcohol distributors in the area.
By clearly communicating to students that he is genuinely concerned about their safety, by engaging student leaders in the conversations about alcohol, and by dedicating both human and fiscal resources to develop programs that will improve campus life, Gibralter is effectively changing the culture of alcohol at Frostburg State University.
The debate over the past two weeks stems from the issue that is the largest distraction to the educational mission of our nation’s colleges and universities: alcohol. What is clear is that the problem is real. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) cites more than 1,700 alcohol-related deaths among college students each year, with another 500,000 injuries, 70,000 sexual assaults, and 159,000 first-year student dropouts due to alcohol and other drugs every year. This award seeks to recognize those presidents who have made a difference in the culture of alcohol and high-risk drinking on their campuses.
About The Presidential Leadership Award
The Presidential Leadership Award recognizes one president for his or her success in promoting a vibrant intellectual and social climate that de-emphasizes the role of alcohol. The recipient of this award exemplifies the highest standards of professional, social, and cultural leadership. This president gives freely of time and energy to create an environment where learning and campus life are not undermined by the misuse of alcohol. Through demonstrated keen vision and innovative leadership, the recipient of this award has implemented a comprehensive strategy that not only addresses the specific educational needs of individuals but also seeks to bring about change at the institutional, community, and public policy levels. The award was developed by the American College Personnel Association, American Council on Education, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, Gordie Foundation, NASPA, Outside The Classroom, and United Educators. Financial support is provided by the Gordie Foundation and Outside The Classroom.