Eric Smith is Director of Health Promotion and Wellness Services in the Division of Student Affairs at Auburn University. The main goal of his office is “to create a healthier Auburn University,” with a particular focus on student learning and personal success.
Individual wellbeing is one of the four main aspects of a sustainable world. Eric works to make individual and collective wellbeing possible by providing programs and services that nurture in students the knowledge and skills they need, while cultivating a healthy and safe campus environment within which students can thrive. The Be Well Hut and establishing Auburn as a smoke-free campus are specific examples of efforts to promote individual and collective wellbeing.
Wellbeing or wellness is about cultivating wholeness, another important concept in sustainability. To cultivate wholeness in students Eric teaches Nine Dimensions of Wellness: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Spiritual, Social, Environmental, Occupational, Financial, and Cultural.
The issues his office tackles can be very serious; substance abuse, depression, nutrition, and sexual assault are some of the challenges Eric deals with, helping students emerge out of negative situations and experiences while building the strength and capacity to create and live in substantively positive states of being.
This fall Eric has partnered with units across campus to introduce a Green Dot program, designed to address the persistent problem of sexual assault and other forms of violence. The “green dot,” according to the Green Dot website, “is any behavior‚ choice‚ word‚ or attitude that promotes safety for all our citizens and communicates utter intolerance for violence.” This year the program hopes to train 6,000 Auburn students, faculty, and staff in how to intervene when they see someone in danger.
To nurture his own wellness and wholeness, Eric does a number of things. Among them, he looks for moments when he can slow down, notice his surroundings, and cultivate a more mindful perspective. He spends time with his family. He enjoys running, biking, and racing in Ironman Triathlons.
When Eric was presented with the opportunity to become Director of Health Promotion and Wellness he saw it as an opportunity to make a real difference. Eric said, “What excited me about this position was the chance to create something from the ground up and leave a lasting impact on the University.”
Eric believes that as students learn to cultivate wellness in all its dimensions, they will find themselves better able to balance and manage the many demands and challenges they face, while at the same time gaining a clearer sense of who they are and what they are really about. Every individual who embarks on this journey of self-discovery and self-expression nurtures their own wellbeing and that of the Auburn community as well.
By: Rebecca Oliver and Mike Kensler