University of Vermont

University Communications

UVM’s Wellness Environment in National Spotlight

Heads up when you walk into Dr. Jim Hudziak's "Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies" class. From the front of the lecture hall, the professor fires away with the rubber brain/football that has become something like a Wellness Environment mascot. (Photo: Bear Cieri)

UVM’s Wellness Environment has again attracted national news attention. An Associated Press story on the program was picked up by media around the country this week.

Stories were published in outlets that included ABC News, The Washington Post, US News & World Report, The Boston Globe, Fox News, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, The Houston Chronicle, USA Today, MSN and Yahoo News.

“Pledges by college students to eschew drugs and alcohol are old hat,” the story opens. “Now they’re meditating, working out, practicing yoga, eating healthfully, and at least one school, the University of Vermont, it has become a bona fide lifestyle.

In UVM’s Wellness Environment, known as WE, students live in a substance-free dorm, take a required neuroscience course taught by the faculty in the university's Larner College of Medicine and are given incentives to stay healthy, such as access to a free gym membership, nutrition and fitness coaches and an app that tracks their activities.

WE’s enrollment has grown from 120 when the program launched in 2015 to over 1,200 today. Thanks to this growth, nearly one-quarter of UVM’s undergraduate on-campus population live in substance-free housing today. 

WE has also been featured in a front page story in The Boston Globe, on CBS News and on National Public Radio.