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Debra Kent
School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

Last modified: Monday, December 15, 2008

John Seffrin, CEO of American Cancer Society, to give public address on Friday

Dec. 15, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- John R. Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society and former long-time chair of the Department of Applied Health Science in Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, will discuss "Cancer at the Crossroads" on Friday (Dec. 19) at IU Bloomington.

Seffrin, described as a "visionary leader" for his work at the ACS to prevent and control cancer, will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree on Saturday (Dec. 20) during Winter Commencement at IU Bloomington.

His public address on Friday, titled "Cancer at a Crossroads: Access to Health Care in Post-Election America," begins at 4 p.m. in State Room East of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. It will be followed by a reception from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the University Faculty Club at the Indiana Memorial Union.

"John Seffrin's remarkable tenure as CEO of the American Cancer Society has been a model of courageous advocacy and visionary leadership," said Karen Hanson, provost of IU Bloomington. "We at Indiana University are proud that one of our faculty members has gone on to become the national leader in this essential work. We are eager to hear his reflections on the fight against cancer and to learn his views on the critical problems connected with health care reform."

During his talk, Seffrin will discuss advancements in the understanding of cancer and how to deal with the cancer problem, including the issue of access to quality health care. His remarks will outline broad strategies to eliminate cancer as a major public health problem in this century, including the need for systemic health care reform in the new administration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Seffrin was chair of the School of HPER's Department of Applied Health Science from 1979 to 1992, before becoming executive vice president and chief staff officer of the ACS in 1992. Under Seffrin's leadership, the Department of Applied Health Science became one of the nation's top programs, a distinction that continues today. While at IU he also was director of the Center for Health and Safety Studies, chair of the Hazard Control Program Advisory Board and co-director of the Institute for Drug Abuse Prevention.

Robert M. Goodman, dean of the School of HPER, and Mohammad Torabi, chair of the Department of Applied Health Science, describe Seffrin's tenure as CEO of the American Cancer Society as impressive. Seffrin "has revolutionized the society and integrated the notion of prevention and health education as parts of the overall mission of the society," they write.

Goodman and Torabi, both public health experts, said Seffrin also led a major reorganization and refocusing of the ACS's priorities, resulting in the greatest growth and impact on its lifesaving mission in the society's 92-year history. Having set measurable goals in 1999, the nation's cancer program is now on track to achieve a 50 percent reduction in cancer mortality by the year 2015.

For biographical information about Seffrin, please visit