Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, October 18, 2012

O'Donnell named Health Management Research Center director

Renowned health promotion leader Michael O'Donnell has been named director of the School of Kinesiology's Health Management Research Center, effective Oct. 15.

  Michael O'Donnell

O'Donnell has a distinguished record in the field of health promotion, and is a widely respected champion for the integration of health promotion into every aspect of society. His expertise, combined with the HMRC's long history of innovative research, will continue to enhance the health and vitality of individuals, work sites and communities worldwide.

"We are delighted to have Dr. O'Donnell join us," said Ron Zernicke, dean of the School of Kinesiology. "The School of Kinesiology's Health Management Research Center is a vibrant, recognized leader in the field, and Dr. O'Donnell has outstanding vision, enthusiasm, and national/international reputation to lead the HMRC to new heights of prominence."

O'Donnell has helped more than 100 employers, health plans, governments and foundations develop and enhance their health promotion programs, and he has a decade of experience as the internal leader of employee health promotion programs in three large organizations.

He is the co-author of "Health Promotion in the Workplace," the first and most widely read reference text in the field, released in 1984. The fourth edition is in development and will be released in early 2014

In 1986, O'Donnell launched the American Journal of Health Promotion, the first peer-reviewed journal devoted to the science of lifestyle change, with the goal of raising the standard of the science, narrowing the gap between science and practice and integrating the many disciplines involved in the field.

In 2000, recognizing the need to integrate health promotion into national policy, O'Donnell founded Health Promotion Advocates, a non-profit grass roots policy group. During the last 12 years, Health Promotion Advocates grew to more than 2,000 members who were instrumental in educating members of Congress and the White House on the health and financial benefits of health promotion — primarily focused on conceiving, introducing and passing legislation.

Four of the group's core ideas became law as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: development of an annual National Prevention Strategy by members of the President's Cabinet; authorization of $200 million in grants to small business to create wellness programs; periodic national surveys on workplace wellness programs; and "wellness incentives," a statute authority allowing employers to offer health plan premium discounts to employees who achieve health goals.

O'Donnell has presented more than 260 keynotes and workshops on six continents, authored more than 190 articles, columns and book chapters, received 13 national awards, served in leadership capacities in three hospital systems, and on the faculty of three universities. He earned a doctorate in health behavior from U-M, a Master of Business Administration in general management and a Master of Public Health in hospital management from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts in psychobiology from Oberlin College.

"One of the distinguishing strengths of the HMRC has been in its ability to maintain a strong academic commitment while collaborating with public and private sector entities to combine our research interests with their needs to create and maintain healthy and high performing workplaces and work forces," said Dee Edington, professor of kinesiology, and founder and previous director of the HMRC. "I am certain Michael is the right person to carry this mission forward into this second decade of the 21st century."