UT Center for Students in Recovery hopes to expand program to other schools

Alexa Ura

The University’s Center for Students in Recovery will lead an effort to establish similar centers at the UT System’s eight other universities after the UT System Board of Regents approved $942,000 to expand the program over the next five years.

Founded in 2004, UT’s Center for Students in Recovery is one of 20 such centers at universities in the United States. With the regents’ vote to expand the program, System institutions will comprise almost one-third of all centers nationwide. The regents voted unanimously in support of the expansion during their regular meeting Wednesday at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler.

Collegiate recovery centers support students with alcoholism and drug addictions through educational presentations, twelve-step meetings and peer mentorship, among other resources. UT’s recovery center professional staff and volunteers will help establish unique programs for centers at each System institution.

During the meeting, Pedro Reyes, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the centers will help students cope with alcohol and drug abuse that leads to academic failure and sometimes death.
“[The UT-Austin center] is highly effective in helping students deal with alcohol and drug abuse,” Reyes said. “This item is on behalf of the students.”

Regents Steven Hicks and Robert Stillwell said the existence of recovery programs has become an important issue students take into consideration when deciding which college to attend.

“I talked to a girl who transferred from [the University of Virginia] specifically because of this program and the support she would get,” Hicks said. “This is something we’re leading the country in.”
Stillwell said recovery centers are also an admissions consideration for incoming freshmen.

UT President Williams Powers Jr. said the University’s program is student-centered.

“The students, even those who are nonrecovery, have gotten involved to help,” Powers said. “It’s very student-run, but we’ve supported it. We’re very proud of what’s going on, and we’re excited about helping in any way the other institutions need.”

UT’s center recently received the Best Practices in College Health Award from the American College Health Association.

The System will fund the implementation of the centers through the Available University Fund, allocations available to the regents through a state land endowment.

Hicks said the regents’ appropriation will only help implement the centers that will eventually become self-sustaining and require no additional funding.