1861 - 1919 Laying the Groundwork for College Health


Dr. Edward Hitchcock Named Medical Director

In 1861, Dr. Edward Hitchcock was named the medical director of the department of physical education at Amherst College, which is generally given credit as the first college health service. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, other institutions began to establish departments of physical education, which then evolved into completely independent college health programs.


Meeting of Pioneers in College Health

Members of the Society of College Directors of Physical Education met in New Haven, CT, in December 1899.


First Comprehensive Health Programs

University of Southern California is one of the first universities to develop a comprehensive student health program including both medical care and infirmary care.

Health in America 1800's - 1918

1800 - 1880

The Sanitary Movement.


Harvard University introduced physical education and proposed exercise as best way to improve one's health to tackle the sedentary lifestyle of the students.


Edward Hitchcock establishes the first college health program at Amherst College.

1886 - 1911

Infirmaries became more common and Florence Nightingale fought for cleaner, more sanitary hospital facilities.


Dr. Willem Einthoven from Holland built the first EKG machine and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1924 because of this invention.


Typhoid Epidemic in Ithaca, NY.


National TB Association established.


Pure Food and Drug Act created.


University of Michigan creates the first EKG machine in the U.S.


Margaret Sanger creates the first birth control clinic.

1918 - 1919

The Great Influenza Pandemic.

1920's Our First Decade


Founding Our Organization

Meeting brings together 53 organizations to create the American Student Health Association in Chicago, Illinois.


Membership Grows

At the 1921 Annual Meeting, the total membership increased to 65.


New Networks

  • Ohio College Health Association is founded as one of ASHA's first affiliates.
  • The first committees were founded.

More Growth

The Association now had 87 institutional members. New England College Health Association was formed, and two other affiliates were in the process of forming.


In This Year:

  • First Nurse presentation at OCHA meeting.
  • At ASHA's Annual Meeting, it is reported that membership increased to 110 institutional members and for the first time the Annual Meeting extended to two days of programming.
  • 11th Annual Conference of the National Association of Deans and Advisers of Men covered topics not so different from those of today: "fraternities and hazing," "the student who works to support expenses", and "liquor problems" were some of the topics discussed.

Health in America 1920's


Heart disease is determined to be the leading cause of death in the US.


FDR contracts polio.


Insulin is discovered and used to treat diabetes.


George Papanicolaou creates a new test (Pap) with the potential for finding cervical cancer early.


Penicillin is discovered by Dr. Alexander Fleming.


Baylor University Hospital provides prepaid healthcare for local teachers’ union, serving as one of the first examples of modern health insurance.

1930's Moving College Health Forward During the Great Depression


In This Year:

  • The First National Conference on Health in Colleges held
  • New York State College Health Association first meeting

Regional Groupings

ASHA President D.F. Smiley, MD, creates 13 regional groupings. By 1934, all but three of these regional sections (now known as affiliates) had organized regional branches and had held at least one meeting


Pre-Cursor to the Board of Directors Formed

The Committee on Constitutional Revision presented an amendment to the constitution creating the Council of the Association. The Executive Committee acted in the interim between the annual meetings until the Council was formed. The Council was to be composed of all the past presidents, the officers, and six members at large. The President was made ex officio Chairman of the Council.


First Nurse at Annual Meeting

Edna Moorhouse became the first nurse to attend and present at the annual meeting. With the inclusion of nurses, ASHA began to formulate assessments and guidelines for educating nurses in college health.


Meeting Mental Health Needs

Second National Conference on Health in Colleges is held in Washington, DC where there is consensus that colleges of 500-2000 students need one full time counselor and a part time psychiatrist



At the Council of the 20th Annual Meeting, the decision was made to not include the HBCUs in the association. This decision was reversed in approximately 1941 to integrate black colleges into ASHA.

Health in America 1930's


Eugenics movement takes hold.


First International Congress on Mental Hygiene is held in Washington, DC.


The Tuskegee SyphilisExperiment began.


Alcoholics Anonymous founded.


Jack Lalanne opens the first US fitness club.


Vassar College creates the first group medical insurance policy for students, costing $12/year.


First blood bank opens in Cook County Hospital in Chicago.

1940's The World and Our College Students Go to War

1940 - 1941

ASHA's First Woman President

Ruth Boynton, MD, the Director of Health Services at University of Minnesota, becomes the first female president of American Student Health Association and eventually wins the second Hitchcock award in 1963. She would also become the first executive director.


New Liaison Committee

ASHA forms a committee to serve as liaison to the armed services should it become necessary.


New Standing Committees

The ASHA committee structure was revised to include seven standing committees:

  • Executive Committee
  • Local Sections Committee
  • Editorial Committee
  • Health Instruction
  • Health Service & Physical Activities
  • Environmental Hygiene Administration
  • Research Committee


ASHA changes its name to the American College Health Association to avoid confusion with the American School Health Association.

Health in America 1940's


First usable Penicillin clinical trials start.


Introduction of vaccines decreased relevance of infirmaries.


Rutgers University scientists discover streptomycin which can kill TB.


GI Bill Act includes covering tuition and expenses for veterans attending college or trade schools.


CDC is founded in Atlanta primarily to fight malaria, typhus and other. infectious diseases


The National Institute of Mental Health is created in part to work on the increased mental health issues related to World War 2.


Third National Conference on College Health held, featuring discussions on "social hygiene," a euphemism for issues related to sexuality.


The Framingham Heart Study begins.

1950's Prevention Is the Key


National Office Created

ACHA was given donated office space to use at Cornell University.


Student Health Insurance Plans are Created

Dr. Lewis Barbato, a psychiatrist at the University of Denver, pioneers Student Health Insurance Plans (SHIPs) and creates the first standards for college health and ACHA certification program. Dr. Barbato went on to become the ACHA President in 1958; his efforts led to the founding of the Student Section in 1975. the student section of ACHA.


First College Health Educator

First professional college health educator, Edward Dvorak, is hired by the University of Minnesota Health Services.


Membership Development

Dr. Barbato appointed as Chairman of the Committee for Permanent Association Office and Staff. The most important duty of this committee was to modify membership process in the Association to provide not only for institutional memberships but also for individual memberships. The individual member would join as a member of a section or area of interest.


New Publications

  • Student Medicine became the official journal of the association. The journal was started by prominent Cornell professors Dr. Norman Moore and Dr. Ralph Alexander. It started as a service to the association's membership to educate and inform them about everything related to student health.
  • The ACHA Newsletter is created, later renamed College Health and Wellness in Action.

Health in America 1950's


The HeLa cell line was created from a cell sample taken from Henrietta Lacks.


First kidney transplant occurs.


Hygiene classes merged into health education classes and health services became their own entity.


Jonas Salk, CUNY creates the first polio vaccine licensed for public use.


Pyschoactive drugs are developed.


American Cancer Society links smoking to decreased lifespan.

1960's "Say You Want A Revolution..."


Membership Grows

Institutional membership increased to 357 and individual membership increased to 618.


In This Year:

  • ACHA hires Dr. Ruth Boynton as its Executive Director, ACHA's first paid employee, and moves the national office to the University of Miami.
  • ACHA approves and publishes "Recommended Standards and Practices for College Health Programs."
  • The Edward Hitchcock Award for Outstanding Contributions in College Health was established in the centennial year of college health This award, commemorating the work of Edward C. Hitchcock, Jr., MD, who founded the first college health service at Amherst College in 1861, honors ACHA members who have made outstanding contributions to advancing the health of all college students.

Journal of American College Health

Four years later after the founding of the journal Student Medicine, the rights were transferred to ACHA and the name was changed to the Journal of the American College Health Association.


USPH and ACHA Smoking Study

ACHA was awarded a contract with the U.S. Public Health Service to carry out a smoking study. James Dilley was appointed as Project Coordinator, assuming responsibility for the smoking survey. Dilley would go on to serve as the ACHA Executive Director from 1967-1984.


Boynton Award Established

This award, named for Ruth E. Boynton, MD, who was an inspiration and guiding force as ACHA president (1940-41) and treasurer (1961-65), and who directed the University of Minnesota Health Service, which bears her name, honors ACHA members who have provided distinguished service to the association.


National Office Becomes an Independent Entity

ACHA's national office moves to Evanston, IL and becomes independent of a member institution

Health in America 1960's


First oral contraceptive pills are introduced and with that the sexual revolution begins.


The Supreme Court rules that drug addiction is a disease.


The Surgeon General releases a report linking smoking and lung cancer.


Congress establishes Medicare (health insurance for the elderly) and Medicaid (health insurance for the poor and disabled).


First coronary artery bypass surgery is performed.

1970's College Health Awakens to Change


Updated ACHA Governance

A new constitution and bylaws were adopted. For the first time in the history of ACHA, all three major constituencies of the association member institutions, sections, and affiliates were represented in the governing body.


In This Year:


Executive Committee Formed

The Executive Committee was established under the authority of the Executive Board. At the same time, the Program Planning Committee was formed to coordinate the annual meeting.

1978 - 79


The first board of the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) is formed. The University of Arizona is the first fully accredited college health service in the nation.

Health in America 1970's


By Executive Order, President Nixon creates the EPA, which establishes emissions standards.


Congress passes the National Cancer Act and the "war on caner" begins.


Latinx students in San Francisco form the National Chicano Health Association to address the unique needs of the population.


Title IX revolutionizes sports for women, prohibiting sex discrimination in education programs funded by the Federal government.


First in-vitro fertilized baby born.


First MRI test performed.

1980's Dialing-In To A Healthier Future


First Asian-American President of ACHA

Isao Hirata, MD, becomes the first Asian-American president of the association.


Moten Award Established

The Ollie B. Moten Award for Outstanding Service to One's Institution honors ACHA members who have made a significant impact on the institution of higher education in which they work, regardless of whether the individuals have been active beyond their institutions.


Task Force to Support HIV/AIDS Prevention

ACHA's AIDS Task Force was established in 1984, and the CDC provided ACHA with its first grant in support of HIV/AIDS research and education efforts in 1986. Other grants soon followed, and one of them funded the HIV/AIDS Seroprevalence Study that concluded in 1991. This ground-breaking study provided the first statistics on the HIV seroprevalence rate in college students and gained nationwide attention for ACHA when the results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


ACHA Task Force for National Health Objectives 2000

ACHA formed the Task Force for National Health Objectives for 2000, which led to the creation of the Healthy Campus program.


In This Year:

  • At the Annual Meeting in Chicago, ACHA's new governance and structure model was approved and implemented. The new model created a streamlined structure by placing day-to-day operational authority with the Board of Directors.
  • Six regional representatives are added to the Board of Directors to give affiliates increased representation at the national level.

New Heights of Membership

The association had nearly 1,000 institutional members and 650 individual members.


American College Health Foundation

The ACHA Board established the Foundation for Health in Higher Education (now the American College Health Foundation, a non-profit agency designed to attract monies to benefit the college health profession.


García-Tuñón Award Established

The Miguel García-Tuñón Award, named in memory of the coordinator of the ACHA/CDC Seroprevalence Project, and whose life and work exemplified dignity and integrity, honors ACHA members whose work, life, writing, research or way of living have promoted the cause of human dignity and nurtured the appreciation of human differences.

Health in America 1980's


American Psychiatric Association adds PTSD to the DSM III.


Smallpox declared eradicated.


AIDS cases being reported to CDC as new disease affecting young men in LA and NYC.


Artificial heart first used.


Susan G. Koman organization established to fund breast cancer research.


HIV blood test approved by FDA.


AOL opens the world wide web of health information (and misinformation).


FDA approves Prozac which becomes the number one prescribed medication for depression worldwide.

1990's Setting New Standards


In this Year:

  • ACHA publishes Healthy Campus 2000: Making It Happen
  • The E. Dean Lovett Award was created in 1990 to honor E. Dean Lovett, MD, past president of the Pacific Coast College Health Association and former director of the University of Hawaii Health Service and an advocate of nurses in community colleges, small colleges, and university health services. This award, created by the ACHA Nurse-Directed Section, honors ACHA members who have directed or contributed significantly to the development of a college health program in an exemplary manner.
  • ACHA holds a Peer Education Workshop in Maryland.
  • Ad Hoc committee on structure and function was created to help assess this area and make recommendations to the board of directors for improvement.

In This Year:

  • The American Cancer Society provided ACHA with funds to develop, produce, and distribute a health education manual on preventing and detecting HPV, while in 1995, the HPV and Other STDs Task Force completed the Integrated Strategies for HPV, STD, and Cancer Prevention on Campus manual.
  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) College Health Nurse Certification examination was administered. ACHA aided in the development of the examination and accompanying handbook as well as the Standards for College Health Nursing.

New Election Process

At the Annual Meeting in San Francisco, the voting delegates agreed to open up the election process to all regular and student members and to hold the election by mail. Task forces and committees were expanded to include more members. The year also marked another move for a national office, to Linthicum, Maryland.


First African-American President

Donald C. Peters, PhD, is elected as the first African-American president of ACHA.


In This Year:

  • ACHA forms a Health Care Reform Task Force to advocate for the "college health model" with national and state legislators and creates the "Health Care Reform Advisory Toolkit"
  • The Foundation for Health in Higher Education changed its name to American College Health Foundation.
  • The first use of ACHA's Strategic Plan was adopted. The plan looked toward new revenue streams as more traditional income sources were gradually decreasing.
  • The association began to develop more diverse programming and formed subcommittees to focus on ethnic minority and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues.

Health Promotion Task Force

The American College Health Association (ACHA) appointed the Task Force on Health Promotion in Higher Education to study the scope of practice of health promotion in a higher education setting and develop professional standards of practice.


Meningococcal Disease Awareness Campaign

Following new information on the prevalence of meningococcal disease in college students, ACHA began recommending that college students consider being vaccinated. In support of this new recommendation, ACHA launched a major student awareness campaign on meningococcal disease in 1997 that was supported by an unrestricted educational grant.


Longest Serving Executive Director Appointed

Doyle Randol was appointed as the Executive Director. Having retired in 2015, he was the longest serving Executive Director of the association.


Howell and Reifler Awards Established

  • The Hannibal E. Howell, Jr., MD, Award was named in honor of Dr. Howell of Hampton University who led the association in its efforts toward inclusiveness and addressing ethnic minority concerns. This award honors ACHA members who have made outstanding proactive contributions to their campus communities and ACHA by promoting health care and preventive health relevant to ethnic minorities.
  • The Clifford B. Reifler Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Journal of American College Health honors ACHA members and nonmembers who have made outstanding contributions to the Journal of American College Health. This award was created in 1998 to honor Clifford B. Reifler, MD, MPH, who was former executive editor emeritus of the Journal of American College Health, former director of the University of Rochester Health Service, and past president of ACHA.

Guidelines for a College Health Program Published

This set of guidelines provided campuses with a guide to creating a health program. The guidelines were revised and re-published in 2016 as the Framework for a Comprehensive College Health Program.

Health in America 1990's


American Academy of Pediatrics proposes Medical Home model of care.


Vaccines for children program.


Clinton Healthcare plan "Health Security Act" fails to launch.


Medical lasers are approved by the FDA.


HIPAA sets standards for medical records privacy, Mental Health Parity Act prohibits group health plans from having lower annual lifetime benefits on mental health.


42 million or 19.7% of the American population are uninsured according to the US Census.

2000's Designing New Tools


In This Year:

  • ACHA's NCHA unveiled as first population level health status assessment tool specifically for college students
  • ACHA releases a non-discrimination policy to create campus climates guided by cultural inclusion
  • ACHA publishes Healthy Campus 2010: Making It Happen

Standards of Health Promotion

ACHA first published the Standards of Practice for Health Promotion in Higher Education (SPHPHE) in 2001. The fourth edition was published in 2019.


History of College Health Published

"The History and Practice of College Health " by H. Spencer Turner and Janet L. Hurley is published.



ACHA releases SARS preparation tool in collaboration with the CDC.


CAS and ACHA Collaborate

CAS (with ACHA) publishes chapters for assessing clinical health services and health promotion services


ACHF Publishes Toolkit on Preventing Sexual Violence

In This Year:


H1N1 Surveillance

CDC and ACHA launch H1N1 influenza surveillance network for college/university campuses.

Health in America 2000's


Medicare Modernization Act is passed.


First sequencing of human genome is done by the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium.


Two HPV vaccines are approved for use.


The American Heart Association releases a report on the urgent need for health care reform and advocates for "removing barriers to affordable health care and preventive benefits, improving the delivery of quality health care, eliminating disparities, continuing appropriate funding of biomedical research, and supporting the training of a diverse, skilled healthcare workforce". The report sets a goal of 25% reduction in heart related disease and death in the next eight years.

2010 to Today The Recognized Voice of College Health and Well-Being


Affordable Care Act

After enactment of the Affordable Care Act, ACHA worked to monitor and influence the development of federal regulations and their impact on college students and their families during the federal rule making process.


Position Statement on Tobacco on College and University Campuses

ACHA updates its position statement to recommend that campuses promote tobacco-free environments.


Statement in Support of Marriage Equality

The American College Health Association (ACHA) joined numerous professional health and human rights organizations in support of marriage equality. The Association recognizes that denial of equal civil rights can contribute to diminished health and quality of life.


New Strategic Plan and Logo

  • ACHA publishes new strategic plans with pillars of Advocacy, Education and Research
  • ACHA announced a new strategic plan that synthesized its many activities into three overarching foci (advocacy, education, and research). ACHA re-branded itself adopting a new corporate logo (seal) that embraced the foci of its new strategic plan

In This Year:

  • In 2015, ACHA's Vaccine Preventable Diseases Advisory Committee reaffirmed the importance of immunizations in the national conversation regarding immunization use and safety during the 2014-2015 multi-state measles outbreak.
  • In 2015, ACHA adopted and announced a Statement on Religious Freedom Legislation in response to the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101).
  • ACHA focuses advocacy efforts on sexual assault prevention and education at the Federal level.
  • Evelyn Wiener Mentoring Award is established. The award pays tribute to the mentorship that Evelyn Wiener, MD, director of the University of Pennsylvania health service, provided to her staff, colleagues, regional, and national associates. This award recognizes individuals who have made significant efforts in providing counsel, support, and professional opportunities to others either in their institution, their regional affiliate, or ACHA.

In This Year:


Connected College Health Network (CCHN)

ACHA begins work on the Connected College Health Network. By gathering multiple data points from a variety of data sources, the CCHN will provide evidence-based information and an effective way to nationally measure college student health, wellness, and achievement.


National Faculty and Staff Health Assessment

ACHA launches the ACHA-National Faculty and Staff Wellness Assessment, the first benchmarked survey of its kind, designed specifically for faculty, staff, and graduate student employees working on college and university campuses.


ACHA Releases Toolkit

ACHA releases a toolkit, Addressing Sexual and Relationship Violence: A Trauma-Informed Approach. Developed by ACHA's Creating Guidance for Addressing Sexual Assault Task Force, this new toolkit describes a public health model of trauma-informed care and provides guidance on engaging all campus constituents in creating a trauma-informed campus.


Health in America 2010 to Today


President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act, enabling millions of Americans to obtain health insurance.


First case of Ebola is diagnosed in the US.


Link described between Circadian Rhythms and Bipolar Disorder.

2020's The next 100 years


ACHA Celebrates Its Centennial Year

Congratulations to to ACHA on its 100th year anniversary. We have come a long way and remain committed to working towards the future.