CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University is launching the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, a new research initiative focused on the human lifespan, with a special emphasis on the physical, mental and behavioral health of children.

Made possible by a generous gift from the late Hallie Ford, the new center, part of the College of Health and Human Sciences, will launch on Wednesday, Sept. 9, with two public events: a research symposium and a ceremony.

The research symposium highlighting faculty research on children and families takes place at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, in Milam Auditorium. Among the speakers at the symposium will be OSU's internationally recognized early childhood expert Megan McClelland, who developed a key self-regulation task for preschool age children as a way to predict school readiness, and Hallie Ford Center interim co-director Jeff McCubbin, who will speak to the special needs of and advocacy efforts necessary for children and young adults with disabilities.

There also will be a ceremony and reception at 9:09 a.m. on Sept. 9, at 26th Street and Campus Way, near the future site of the building for the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, which is scheduled to break ground in 2011.

OSU President Ed Ray, College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Tammy Bray, and members of the Ford family - including Hallie Ford's children Allyn Ford and Carmen Ford Phillips - will be in attendance at the ceremony, which is open to the public.

The mission of the new center is 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.

"We have an important responsibility to carry on Hallie Ford's passion for solid values that nurture children and families," Bray said. "With her gift, we are creating a unique center for Oregon that brings together preeminent researchers and practitioners to assure that children and families have strong, evidence-based programs to support them."

While the physical building that will house the bulk of the work of the Hallie Ford Center will not be completed until 2011 the center and its research will officially launch on Sept. 9, 2009, a date picked by Taiwanese-born Bray because nine is an auspicious number in Chinese numerology that signifies change and transformation.

Hallie Ford, a noted Oregon philanthropist, made a gift of $8 million to Oregon State University shortly before she died, generously supporting a cause she advocated for throughout her lifetime - Oregon's children and their families. Ford was 102 years old when she died and her final act of philanthropy was to build the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families.

Following the ceremony, the public symposium in Milam Auditorium will start. The center is organized into four research cores devoted to: Healthy Development in Early Childhood; Risky and Protective Behaviors and Environments for Youth; Obesity Prevention in Children and Families; and Vulnerable Children and Families. Researchers involved with the Hallie Ford Center will speak briefly about their current work.

In addition to Bray, who will give the opening address, and McClelland and McCubbin, other speakers include:

Joanne Sorte, director of OSU's Child Development Center, will speak about the importance of having a "living laboratory" that incorporates Head Start pre-kindergarten into a place that teaches teachers and allows researchers to observe children.

Stewart Trost, director of Obesity Prevention in Children and Families Core. Trost is pioneering research in diet and exercise in home child-care settings. He is working with Extension offices throughout Oregon on research and training interventions with home daycare providers.

Brian Flay, director of Risky and Protective Behaviors and Environments for Youth Core. Flay studies intervention programs that help promote positive youth development.

Sally Bowman, director of Vulnerable Children and Families Core. Bowman is family development specialist with an appointment in OSU Extension. She has conducted research and created programs to assist families in raising healthy children.

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