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Sliepcevich, Elena M. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Sliepcevich, Elena M.

Historical Note:

Widely recognized as one of the leading health educators of her time, in 1973 Elena Sliepcevich accepted a post at Southern Illinois University Carbondale as a professor in the School of Medicine and the Department of Health Education.  Before joining the faculty at Southern, she had served as director of the School Health Education Study (SHES), a pioneering grant-funded research program that spearheaded the drive towards a model for curriculum development in health education across the United States.  Ten conceptual areas identified in the SHES study still form the foundation of most modern health education programs today.

Dr. Sliepcevich's national reputation and influence were instrumental in placing Southern Illinois University within the top rankings of United States health education programs into the late 1980's. She brought a unique Patient Education conference to the Southern campus which led to the creation of a new course which she co-taught with Dr. Ella P. Lacey titled "Rx: Education in Health Care".  From 1983 to 1989, Southern Illinois University produced more doctors in health education than any other national program.

Elena Sliepcevich earned her Master of Arts degree in Health Education at the University of Michigan, followed by a Doctorate in Physical Education at Springfield College in Massachusetts where she was the first doctoral-level female graduate of the program.  She was awarded an honorary doctorate from her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Idaho in 1987.  Starting at Western Montana College, Sliepcevich held numerous permanent and visiting post-secondary academic posts.  She taught at Springfield College, the University of Florida, University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Oregon, the University of Northern Colorado, and Ohio State University.  Her list of honors and distinctions were equally diverse, highlighting her prolific contributions as an educator, curriculum developer, community servant, consultant, program leader and esteemed academic author.  Among other things, Dr. Sliepcevich was named Distinguished Fellow of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) in 1972; awarded the Luther Halsey Gulick Medal from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 1979; and received the Honor Award from the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Eta Sigma Gamma in 1987.

Dr. Sliepcevich authored four books, ten book-chapters, and hundreds of articles and reviews on the subject of health education.  She was an active member of national, state and local professional associations, frequently elected and appointed to leadership of committees and sections.  Highly-sought as a consultant for health education initiatives throughout her career, she led workshops throughout the nation and wrote research grants furthering study, education, and service within her field.

Elena Sliepcevich was born in Anaconda, Montana in 1919 and died in March of 2008 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Sources: Taylor, John C. (1996). "A History of the Formation, Development, and Growth of the Department of Health Education at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 1921-1993" Doctoral Dissertation, Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Health Education.
Note Author: L. Broaddus

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