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New HMRC Director


O’Donnell named new Director of University of Michigan Health Management Research Center


Ann Arbor, Mich., Oct. 16, 2012 — The University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and the Health Management Research Center (HMRC) are pleased to welcome renowned health promotion leader Dr. Michael O’Donnell as the new Director of the HMRC, effective October 15, 2012.

Dr. 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.  

“We are delighted to have Dr. O'Donnell join us at the University of Michigan,” said Dr. Ron Zernicke, Dean of the School of Kinesiology. “The HMRC 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.”

Dr. O’Donnell’s first passion is workplace health promotion.  He has helped more than 100 employers, health plans, governments, and foundations develop and enhance their health promotion programs, and 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 4th edition is in development and will be released in early 2014.

In 1986, Dr. 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, Dr. O’Donnell  founded Health Promotion Advocates, a non-profit grass roots policy group. Over 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 their core ideas became law as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: 1) development of an annual National Prevention Strategy by members of the President’s Cabinet, 2) authorization of $200 million in grants to small business to create wellness programs, 3) periodic national surveys on workplace wellness programs, and 4) “wellness incentives” a statute authority allowing employers to offer health plan premium discounts to employees who achieve health goals.

Dr. 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 PhD in Health Behavior from the University of Michigan, an MBA in General Management and an MPH in Hospital Management, both from the University of California, Berkeley, and an AB in psychobiology from Oberlin College.

The University of Michigan is delighted to welcome Dr. O’Donnell to Ann Arbor.  He brings an insider’s knowledge of the business world and an advocate’s passion for health promotion to the HMRC.  Dr. O’Donnell’s reputation in the field and his expertise in the science of health promotion, combined with the HMRC’s long history of innovative research, is an ideal combination, and we look forward to continuing our work in enhancing the health and vitality of individuals, worksites and communities worldwide.

"One of the distinguishing strengths of the UM-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 workforces,” said Dr. Dee Edington, 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."

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About the School of Kinesiology

The University of Michigan School of Kinesiology continues to be a leader in the areas of prevention and rehabilitation, the business of sport, understanding lifelong health and mobility, and achieving health across the lifespan through physical activity.  The School of Kinesiology is home to the Athletic Training, Movement Science, Physical Education, and Sport Management academic programs – bringing together leaders in physiology, biomechanics, public health, urban planning, economics, marketing, public policy, and education and behavioral science.  For more information, visit

About the HMRC

The HMRC has been a part of the School of Kinesiology since its founding in 1977 by Dr. Dee Edington. Since that time, the HMRC has grown into an acclaimed leader in the research and evaluation of corporate health and wellness. Its mission is the study of the impact of health choices on total health and productivity parameters, quality of life indicators, and health care economics. The HMRC also offers the UM Health Risk Appraisal, which is currently the most widely studied and researched HRA in the world, and the Culture of Health Survey, which measures employee perception of the environment and health culture within the workplace.