Be Well

Assuring healthy, safe, and sustainable physical environments that promote walking and bicycling, physical activity, and clean air for all of UCLA.


More About Be Well

We collaborate with campus and community leaders to identify, plan, and implement best practices for active and safe transit (especially walking and bicycling), facilitation of physical activity in everyday activities, clean and green campus spaces, and building campus awareness about the built environment.

Be Well Leadership

Dr. Richard J. Jackson, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Richard Jackson's passions are health, nature, architecture, creating visions, and protecting children. He has worked extensively on chemical hazards, building public health strategy, leadership, and he strongly focuses on how the ‘built environment’ affects health. He has served as the Director of the CDC National Center for Environmental Health, California's top state health officer, on the Board of Directors for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and is an elected Honorary AIA. He is professor and chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health with appointments in Pediatrics, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES), and Urban Planning. He has received the John Heinz environment award for his work, and is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine. 

Renee Fortier M.A./M.S., Co-Chair

Renée Fortier (B.A. Rice University; M.A./M.S. UCLA), Executive Director UCLA Events & Transportation, oversees both a comprehensive transportation program and the campus Events Office, and is co-chair of the Built Environment (BE Well) pod of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. With a daily population of 70,000, UCLA reduces traffic, and improves air quality and quality of life for the UCLA campus and the community at large through an extensive sustainable transportation program, including public transit passes, bicycle programs, carpools, vanpools, shuttles, and a campus fleet which is 50% alternative fueled. UCLA’s transportation programs have garnered awards from the Air Quality Management District, Association for Commuter Transportation and L.A. Metro, as well as the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), and have received a “Best Workplace for Commuters” - Gold designation and a “Bike Friendly University” – Silver designation.

Jimmy Tran, BE Well Graduate Student Researcher

Jimmy is a third year graduate student completing his dual master degrees in Environmental Health Sciences and Urban and Regional Planning. His interests are in understanding how we can change our social and physical environments to make healthy options such as walking and biking the preferred option. As the BE Well Pod graduate researcher, Jimmy aims to bring together the creative passions of students, faculty, and staff can influence policy to make UCLA’s campus healthier and safe, and sustainable.

Have a question, concern, or an idea? We would like to hear about it!

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By Danielle de Bruin

UCLA is excitingly marking the fifth year of the presence of the Healthy Campus Initiative (HCI) on its campus. The initiative was officially launched by Chancellor Gene Block in January 2013, thanks to the vision, funding, support, and participation of philanthropists Jane and Terry Semel. In honor of this milestone, let’s take a look back at HCI’s beginnings and biggest accomplishments, as well as a look forward towards what’s on the horizon for HCI.

HCI began with the Semels’ vision to create a culture of living well on the UCLA campus — for students, staff, faculty, and the community. The goal was to cultivate a campus-wide wellness movement that would make UCLA the healthiest university campus in America, and to do it well in our own backyard such that others would be inspired to join the movement. To achieve this, the Semels worked with other key figures, including Chancellor Gene Block and Michael Goldstein, former assistant vice provost, to blend health promotion with the True Bruin values, creating a unique structure that has since served as the inspiration for other health movements, such as the UC Global Food Initiative and Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America.

Dr. Wendy Slusser, assistant vice provost of HCI, emphasizes that HCI achieves a collective impact because it is a “coordinating structure emanating from the chancellor’s office that helps to catalyze and leverage the incredible wealth of resources and knowledge on [UCLA’s] campus.” HCI brings together stakeholders promoting physical, emotional, and social health and wellbeing, and connects them with academic departments researching and teaching related subjects such as environment, food, and life skills, as well as administrative units across campus including Dining Services, Transportation, and Recreation.

By bringing all these key players together, HCI helps to make the healthy choice the easiest choice for student, staff, and faculty. Furthermore, with its six distinct pods — MoveWell, MindWell, BEWell, EatWell, BreatheWell, and ResearchWell — HCI’s interdisciplinary approach to health and wellbeing allows it to continuously find new and innovative ways to promote health on campus.

Over the past four years, the initiative has seen many successes. From more bike lanes to an undergraduate food studies minor, a “Mindful Music” series to meditation drop-ins to a tobacco-free campus, HCI has improved UCLA’s campus in numerous ways. Dr. Slusser believes that part of HCI’s success comes from its location within the chancellor’s office. Because the chancellor oversees everyone at UCLA, even the health system, it is clear that HCI cares about everyone’s physical, emotional, and social health on campus. Furthermore, in acting as a coordinating structure, HCI embraces health initiatives already in the works on campus and connects them to the resources they need to succeed, all while giving credit where credit is due.

Another key component to making impactful change on campus was pairing faculty pod leaders with key members of UCLA staff. For example, the MoveWell pod is led by both Professor Angelia Leung and the head of UCLA Recreation Wendy Windsor, which enables the pod to take research and innovation from UCLA students, staff, and faculty and directly implement it on campus through UCLA Recreation. Similarly, the BEWell pod is led by both Professor Richard Jackson and Renee Fortier, executive director of UCLA Events and Transportation. The medicinal garden planted south of the Ronald Reagan Hospital as part of HCI is a visible example of an idea translated into reality through the interdisciplinary collaboration of the then CEO of the hospital David Feinberg, Professor Peter Whybrow, Jane Semel, and the volunteerism of the UCLA community.

When asked about what’s up next for the HCI, Jane Semel and Dr. Slusser remarked that it’s hard to predict future projects due to the collaborative and innovative nature of the Initiative. However, two big projects on the horizon include efforts to pull together all the mental health resources on campus, led by Dr. Bob Bilder, the faculty leader for the HCI BEWell pod and Professor in the Semel Institute, and the construction of a living amphitheater in the Sunset Recreation Center. Jane Semel conceived the idea of the amphitheater several years ago and brought in the support from the Chancellor, Alice Bamford and Anne Eysenring, of One Gun Ranch, Dean Teri Schwartz of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and Mick DeLuca, Assistant Vice Chancellor. Semel remarked that the upcoming living amphitheater is one of the projects she is the most proud of, as it will provide healthy food, exercise, stress-reduction, and the opportunity for community building to the UCLA community. The living amphitheater is expected to be finished in the spring and will be the location for the annual celebration of the Healthy Campus Initiative on May 4 called Dream Revolution where TFT students will perform a Midsummer’s Night Dream. As Jane Semel says: “It is a dream come true!”

What do you think have been some of the HCI’s biggest accomplishments or how has it allowed you to lead a healthier life on campus? Comment below or share your thoughts with us on Facebook!

Danielle de Bruin is a fourth-year undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Sociology with a double minor in Italian and Global Health. She is the blog coordinator for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative and the director of UCLA’s Body Image Task Force, which is a committee within the Student Wellness Commission. With the Body Image Task Force, Danielle organizes events, workshops, and campaigns to promote healthy body image, self-confidence, and mental health on campus. She is also published in the journal PLOS Medicine and the Huffington Post.

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