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Endowed Executive Director of the Randall Lewis Center for Well-Being and Research Announced

Sarah Rodman-Alvarez

Sarah Rodman-Alvarez, a nationally recognized public health expert specializing in environmental sustainability and health equity, has been appointed the inaugural executive director of the Randall Lewis Center for Well-Being and Research at the University of La Verne. Endowed by Bon Appetit co-founder Fedele Bauccio, the position is officially named the Bauccio Endowed Executive Director.

The Lewis Center, which opens in August, brings together a range of well-being programs, including health research and community-based learning opportunities, mindfulness, fitness, mental health support, and extensive community-based collaborations.  The Lewis Center provides further opportunities for students to graduate from the University of La Verne healthier than when they began – physically, emotionally, and academically.

Rodman-Alvarez, who earned her PhD in health and public policy from John Hopkins University, and is currently a health equity and food systems consultant, will join the University in July. She said the Lewis Center’s commitment to educating the whole student – mind, body, and spirit – is aligned with her background and professional philosophy.

“I have a holistic view of what well-being means, and I do not believe it can be reduced to simply diet and exercise, though what we eat and how we move are definitely important,” Rodman-Alvarez said. “Equipping students to thrive can no longer be limited to the classes they are taking to fulfill their degree requirements. We must do right by them by building their resilience in our rapidly shifting world, in a multifaceted way. This means addressing mental health, social connectedness, finances, navigating the work world, navigating families, and much more.”

Rodman-Alvarez was selected after a nationwide search to direct the Lewis Center for Well-Being and Research, which is supported by a generous gift from developer and philanthropist Randall Lewis, as well as donations from other university friends, and institutional funds.  It is the first center of its kind in the region.

“My hope is that the center will be impactful on campus and throughout the greater community,” said Lewis. “I am impressed by Sarah Rodman-Alvarez and confident she will be a great leader of the center.”

Longtime supporter Bauccio, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Bon Appetit, said he is committed to supporting campus well-being programs, collaborations, and health research that will grow and enrich the campus community. “I am very excited that Sarah Rodman-Alvarez is joining University of La Verne’s well-being effort,” Bauccio said. “She has a deep understanding of holistic health and well-being, and I am confident she will be a strong leader and innovator of the Lewis Center.”

University President Devorah Lieberman said Rodman-Alvarez will lead the effort to offer students paths for improving their health and well-being, and create a center for teaching and research for health care-related academic majors and careers.  Her bridge building with community partners will be mutually beneficial and enhance the region.

“This is a most exciting time for the University of La Verne and the region of Inland Southern California,” said Lieberman. “Sarah Rodman-Alvarez is a respected expert and scholar who has broad and profound knowledge of well-being and public health. Her exceptional experience will be a valuable resource for our students, faculty, and staff. Under her leadership, I am certain the Lewis Center will be a hub for well-being and collaborative community programming throughout the region.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree in anthropology at the University of Chicago, Rodman-Alvarez pursued a master’s degree and later PhD in public health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. She focused on global environmental sustainability, health, and social inequalities.

She is currently guiding organizations committed to improving population health on how to make programs and projects more effective, sustainable, and equitable.

Rodman-Alvarez also worked for seven years at Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future on addressing social disparities in health through improving food and agriculture in the United States.

“I am looking forward to joining the University of La Verne community,” she said. “I am impressed by the culture and commitment to the health of students.  It’s an exciting opportunity to expand the experience of our students – not only to achieve holistic well-being but to help them become leaders in the well-being space. This area will deeply benefit from having first-generation and under served college graduates take a leading role to inspire and connect our community.”