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Ralph Manchester honored with Lifetime Achievement Award from American College Health Association

June 17, 2020
Ralph Manchester headshotUniversity of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster

Ralph Manchester, vice provost and director of the University Health Service (UHS) at the University of Rochester, is being honored with the American College Health Association’s (ACHA) Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals who have dedicated their professional lives to improving the health of college students, and who have provided outstanding service to ACHA.

As UHS director, Manchester oversees a staff of 70 who deliver health and wellness services to students and employees, as well as counseling and mental health services to students through the University Counseling Center (UCC). In more than 25 years as director, Manchester has provided leadership and informed medical care to help keep the student body healthy and well during the course of an academic year, and has effectively managed several urgent health crises that have emerged on the University’s River Campus and Eastman School of Music Campus over time. Those include outbreaks of measles and norovirus, and most recently, the University’s response to COVID-19.

Under his direction, in 1999 the University became one of the first in the country to assign to each student a primary care physician or nurse practitioner to coordinate and oversee their care while attending school. This model has been adopted at a number of colleges and universities nationwide.

“I congratulate Ralph on this much-deserved honor,” says University Provost Rob Clark. “He has led UHS through tremendous growth since he began as director and effectively responded to the changing health needs of our student body, enabling them to be successful in their academic careers here. He has created a culture of wellness that benefits all of our students and permeates the entire University community.”

Manchester joined UHS as a staff physician in July 1983. He was appointed medical chief of UHS and an assistant professor in the School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1985, and in 1994 became UHS director. He continues to see patients regularly on both the River Campus and at the Eastman School of Music, and is also a professor of medicine at SMD.

Under his direction, in 1999 the University became one of the first in the country to assign to each student a primary care physician or nurse practitioner to coordinate and oversee their care while attending school. This model has been adopted at a number of colleges and universities nationwide.

More recently, Manchester was lead organizer of the University’s move to become a Tobacco-Free Campus, creating a healthier learning and working environment for University community members by restricting all forms of tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vaping indoors and outdoors on University properties. He developed the new policy for becoming tobacco-free and led the implementation of the plans that established this new standard in 2017.

He also has particular expertise in treating musicians who are dealing with an injury or health issue that interferes with their ability to perform. Recently, he played a leading role in developing the Eastman Performing Arts Medicine initiative, a collaboration between the Eastman School and Medical Center that creates a foundation for clinicians, artists, and researchers to forge innovative connections between health and the arts, and unify existing clinical services, arts integration, and research to transform arts-related health care delivery and scientific understanding.

In addition to his duties at UHS and the Medical Center, Manchester has taken on leadership roles at several national associations, including serving as president of ACHA, and currently serving as president of the Performing Arts Medicine Association. He received his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and his medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. He completed his residency training at the University of Kentucky, where he served as chief medical resident in 1982-83.

ACHA, founded in 1920, serves as the nation’s principal leadership organization for advancing the health and wellness of college students and campus communities through advocacy, education, and research. It represents a multidisciplinary membership that provides and supports the delivery of health, mental health, prevention, and wellness services for our nation’s 19 million college students.

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