Ruth Lilly Health Education Center to Merge with Marian University

by Mark Apple | Oct 21, 2014

Ruth Lilly Health Education Center Marian University announced today that the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center (RLHEC), which has provided health education to more than 2 million Hoosiers in its 25-year history, will relocate its operations and merge with Marian University at the end of the year. The new entity, Ruth Lilly Health Education Center at Marian University, will be administered by Marian University’s School of Education and Exercise Science under the leadership of Dr. Diana Cheshire, Dean.  

Since opening in 1989, the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center has offered programs at its location on Senate Avenue in downtown Indianapolis, with K-12 students taking field trips to the facility. In addition to offering these programs, RLHEC expanded in the 1990s to provide programs at schools and youth-serving organizations. Faced with budget cuts, increased transportation costs, and more time devoted to standardized testing, more and more schools have asked for programs to be presented in their classrooms to save time and money. Through this merger, Ruth Lilly Health Education Center at Marian University will provide health education programs that fit schools’ needs.

“Fewer schools can afford the time and costs associated with field trips,” Joyce Hertko, president and CEO of RLHEC, said. “But the demand for health education remains high, and it’s increasingly important that we meet that demand. By altering the delivery model to offer programming entirely in the classroom, we will be able to continue providing health education services to the young people in our community.”

“Our core mission has been to be one of the best providers of health education to K-12 students in Indiana and this will continue, but our location will change,” said Joel Perry, RLHEC Board Chair.

The Ruth Lilly Health Education Center will conclude operations at its Senate Avenue location effective Dec. 31, 2014, at which time it will relocate its operations to Marian University’s campus. Schools that currently have field trips scheduled at the RLHEC will be offered the opportunity to move those programs to their classrooms.

Marian University is ideally suited to build on RLHEC’s 25-year legacy. The university offers experience in science, health sciences, health education, exercise science and K-12 education programs, including hosting thousands of K-12 students for standards-based educational experiences in the Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab, an on-campus nature preserve and outdoor classroom. Marian University’s continued commitment to be a community anchor and leader for neighborhood revitalization will bolster the long-term sustainability of the RLHEC’s mission and programming.

“The merger of RLHEC and Marian University, supported by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, will create a synergy of resources that will benefit our community by providing high quality health education programs to Hoosier youth – especially the underserved – as well as families and adults in central Indiana and beyond,” Marian University President Daniel J. Elsener said. “It also supports the continued growth of the School of Education and Exercise Science and will support a renewed emphasis for faculty and students on hands-on, experiential learning as a key and distinctive component of a Marian University education.”

The $942,150 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. is intended to bridge the costs of merging the operations of the RLHEC at Marian University through this transitional period. Elsener stressed that additional funding will be required to continue the program well into the future.

“Marian University is grateful for this opportunity to continue the legacy of the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center,” Cheshire said. “We value our numerous partnerships with schools, community organizations, and the many outstanding teachers and students with whom we currently work. The RLHEC at Marian University brings a unique experience to our School of Education and Exercise Science students as we continue to develop distinctive opportunities and research in educational neuroscience, literacy, STEM education, and special education.”

For more information about scheduling a program, visit or call (317) 924-0904.

About Ruth Lilly Health Education Center

Established in 1989, the Ruth Lilly Health Education Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves thousands of central Indiana children and young adults by providing inspiring health education through innovative presentations that promote and reinforce healthy lifestyle choices.

About Marian University Indianapolis

Marian University founded in Indianapolis in 1937, is the only Catholic liberal arts university in central Indiana. It serves a student body of nearly 3,000 through dedication to excellent teaching and learning in the Franciscan and liberal arts traditions. Marian University is one of Indiana’s 31 independent colleges and one of 244 Catholic colleges and universities nationwide.

Since 2001, Marian University has been led by President Daniel J. Elsener, whose vision and leadership are transforming the university. In 2013, Marian University opened the Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences, home to its College of Osteopathic Medicine. Marian University has amassed 27 national championships in cycling and in 2012 won the NAIA national championship in football. Marian University’s School of Education and Exercise Science is nationally recognized and accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).


News Media Contact

Mark Apple
Vice President of Marketing Communications
(317) 955-6775

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