Thomas Szigethy, who instituted a number of innovative substance abuse programs at the University of Connecticut, is Duke's new associate dean and director of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Center.
As the new school year begins at Duke, Szigethy will begin meeting with students, parents, faculty, staff and other interested groups on and around campus to discuss issues surrounding alcohol and substance use on Duke’s campus.
Duke officials are clearing concerned about alcohol abuse on their campus. Duke President Richard Brodhead recently signed onto a national movement among college presidents to consider lowering the drinking age.
Prior to arriving at Duke, Szigethy spent four years at UConn, where he created a systematic prevention strategic plan for the university community; advised student groups dedicated to prevention of substance abuse and promotion of healthy behaviors; and created a forum for campus and neighboring communities to discuss substance use topics as a community issue.
He also developed and implemented a variety of programs that provoked students to think about drinking. One such program asked students to reduce their alcohol intake by one drink, and to donate the cost of that drink to support impoverished families in Vietnam. When students discovered that this simple change could feed an entire family and educate a child for a year, it got them thinking and talking, and changing their behaviors.
“There are a number of levels to substance issues: the individual behavior, the group behavior and the cultural view of the behavior,” Szigethy said. “We will have to work on all of these levels to be effective, to show students there is more to campus social life than intoxication.”