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UCA strengthens commitment to employee wellness

Debuts new Wellness Champion Award

The University of Central Arkansas kicked off its annual BeWell initiative with the debut of the newly established UCA Wellness Champion Award. 

The UCA Wellness Champion Award recognizes employees who have consistently demonstrated a commitment to develop and promote a culture and environment of wellness at UCA. The university recognizes employee wellness in eight dimensions: physical, environmental, financial, occupational, social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual. Awards are given in each of the following categories: classified staff, non-classified staff and faculty. 

Employees Emily Cooper Yates, María Negrete Padrón and J. Art Gillaspy earned the classified staff member, non-classified staff and faculty member awards, respectively. 

The three were presented the awards by UCA Wellness Coordinator Moriah Bruner and Health and Wellness Promotion Committee Chair Alicia Landry, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Family Sciences, before UCA faculty and staff during the annual BeWell Kickoff virtually hosted Nov. 4. 

“UCA is fortunate to have numerous employees on our campus that champion wellness on a daily basis,” Bruner said. “These wellness champions play a key role in reinforcing a supportive environment for health at UCA that enables student learning and success and supports efforts to attract and retain a highly qualified and diverse workforce.”

Through the employee wellness program BeWell, UCA invests in the physical and mental well-being of more than 1,500 faculty and staff members. Using an evidence-based, multifaceted approach, BeWell seeks to engage employees in innovative wellness programming that will reduce health risk factors and absenteeism, increase healthy behaviors and productivity, and minimize health care costs for the university’s self-funded health plan.

Cooper Yates is project coordinator for the Center for Community and Economic Development in the UCA Division of Outreach and Community Engagement. She received the classified staff award for her exemplary service as a BeWell Champion, the department-level employee wellness ambassadors who are essential to generating the grassroots support and engagement needed to support a culture of wellness at UCA. Cooper Yates was recognized for encouraging a more active and healthy environment in the division by implementing fun, creative and accessible wellness activities and keeping 20 colleagues engaged with the BeWell program.

Alicia Landry (left), Moriah Bruner, Emily Cooper Yates and UCA President Houston Davis

Negrete Padrón, associate director of the Office of Diversity and Community, received the non-classified staff award for serving as a positive role model for wellness and motivating her colleagues to prioritize their physical and emotional well-being. 

Alicia Landry (left), Moriah Bruner, María Negrete Padrón and UCA President Houston Davis

Gillaspy, chair of the Department of Psychology and Counseling, received the faculty award for his commitment to nurturing a culture of diversity, inclusion and collegiality. Gillaspy was also recognized for his contributions to BeWell’s diabetes and weight management programs. In spring 2021 he volunteered to help facilitators establish a robust motivational interviewing component, strengthening the popular no-cost employee health coaching programs.

Alicia Landry (left), Moriah Bruner, J. Art Gillaspy and UCA President Houston Davis

About UCA BeWell
BeWell is UCA’s employee wellness program. Recognizing that healthy and happy employees drive student success, BeWell seeks to engage UCA’s faculty and staff in innovative wellness programming that will reduce health risk factors and absenteeism, increase healthy behaviors and productivity and minimize health care costs for the university’s self-funded health plan. In addition to offering a comprehensive lineup of health-promoting programming, benefits-eligible employees and retirees enrolled in UCA’s health insurance can complete activities to qualify for a discount on health insurance premiums and earn BearBucks that can be used to make purchases on campus and a limited number of off-campus locations.