CORVALLIS, Ore. - A public grand opening will be held on Thursday, Sept. 8, for the Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families at Oregon State University, marking the beginning of a collaborative research effort to support children and families in Oregon and around the world.

Part of OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences, this new research center brings together experts at OSU working on crucial public health issues such as childhood obesity, early childhood learning, risky behaviors and teenage development. The new center aims to promote healthy children and families by facilitating high quality research, translating research into practice and building the capacity of families, service providers and communities.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity to build on Hallie Ford's legacy, to take her spirit of caring for children and families to the student setting through research, and then translate that research into improving the health of all citizens across the lifespan," said Tammy Bray, dean of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

"Her values complement our holistic, interdisciplinary approach to research, as well as outreach, which uses what is learned to inform policies and programs in Oregon and beyond," Bray added.

The public program begins at 3:30 p.m., followed by tours of the building.

The program will include talks by Allyn Ford and Carmen Ford Phillips, children of the late Hallie E. Ford, alumna and donor Cindy Campbell, state Rep. Sara Gelser, OSU President Ed Ray, director Richard Settersten, and Bray.

Each speaker will contribute an item for a time capsule that will be placed inside the building and opened in 100 years. Gov. John Kitzhaber's office is sending an item to be enclosed into the capsule in lieu of his attendance.

"These are trying social and economic times for children and families across Oregon and our nation," said Settersten, who holds the endowed directorship of the center. "In the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, we're making children and families a top priority of our research and outreach efforts, with the intention of improving their health and well-being."

A hallmark of the new center is collaboration among disciplines, and that spirit is evident in its design, which features a three-story atrium. The ground floor includes a welcoming common area, a family-style living area, conference room, and kitchen. Offices for researchers are located on the second floor, along with project rooms for conducting research (interviews, focus groups, observations). The third floor features project and conference rooms. A key feature of the new building is a series of three large murals created by Ron Mills de Pinyas, a professor of art at Linfield College.

Hallie Ford, a noted Oregon philanthropist, made a gift of $8 million to Oregon State University shortly before she died, supporting a cause she advocated throughout her lifetime - Oregon's children and their families. The gift was part of The Campaign for OSU, the university's first comprehensive fundraising effort.

Ford was born in Red Fork, Okla., in 1905. In 1935 she married Kenneth W. Ford and moved to Roseburg, where she played an active role in establishing and growing Roseburg Lumber Company, now known as Roseburg Forest Products Company.

The center is organized into four research cores devoted to: Healthy Development in Early Childhood; Healthy Development for Youth and Young Adults; Parenting and Family Life; and Healthy Lifestyles and Obesity Prevention in Children and Families. Research projects associated with these areas include:

  • The GROW Healthy Kids and Communities project centers on childhood obesity prevention in rural communities where the prevalence of obesity is higher than in urban areas. The project will target sustainable changes in the home, school and community environments that improve and strengthen children and their family's eating and physical activity habits.
  • The Healthy Home Child Care Project is evaluating an Extension-based intervention framework to promote healthy eating and regular physical activity in children attending Family Child Care Homes in Oregon.
  • The Touch Your Toes! Kindergarten Readiness Study is a four-year, federally funded study by the U.S. Department of Education that will include more than 500 preschool children, their parents, and their teachers. The project will adapt a self-regulation measure as a school readiness screening tool that can be easily used by teachers, practitioners, and researchers to identify children who would benefit from additional support in self-regulation.
  • The Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative provides evaluation, technical assistance, and professional development for community-based parenting education programs in 19 counties. The goals of the project are to build a more coordinated system of parenting education and to expand quality programs for parents of children ranging from prenatal to six years of age.
  • A three-year study focused on HIV and STD-prevention among inner-city African American teens will look at the sex and gender roles in the context of urban neighborhoods, with an eye toward understanding how social and developmental factors contribute to gender-related beliefs and behaviors.

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Richard Settersten, 541-737-3673