Susquehanna University President L. Jay Lemons announced Friday that the University is opening a new research center focused on adolescent development, attitudes, and behaviors. The Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE) will study factors in teen decision-making and will operate under the direction of Stephen Wallace, a 1981 honors graduate who returns to Susquehanna as an associate research professor and center director after fifteen years as national chairman and CEO of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisons and three decades of work as a school psychologist, adolescent counselor, researcher, author, and motivational speaker. Last year, Stephen received Susquehanna’s Distinquished Alumni Leadership Award for Leadership.
“We are delighted that a nationally recognized researcher and educator such as Stephen Wallace will direct this new center,” said University President L. Jay Lemons. “In terms of health and safety, the stakes have never been higher for today’s teens. The work that CARE at Susquehanna conducts on youth and family issues will not only benefit our region, but will provide an important resource nationally.”
Michael D. Smith, associate professor of psychology at Susquehanna, will serve as academic research coordinator and facilitate collaborations that involve faculty and students in the center’s research.
“SADD has established a leadership role in designing and conducting original research into adolescent attitudes and behaviors,” said Wallace. “At Susquehanna, we will continue to go beyond just ‘what’ teens are doing to analyze the ‘whys’ of teen behavior. And we will create communication tools to empower parents and other adults to play a more active role in guiding the choices young people make on their way to maturity.”
The center will pursue private and public funding to support research on teens and tweens, including personal development, underage drinking and drug use, sexual behavior, driving, bullying, violence and suicide. SADD, the nation’s leading youth-based peer-to-peer education, prevention and activism organization, (formerly Students Against Driving Drunk) will collaborate with Susquehanna’s CARE in research projects.
On Dec. 1 in Boston, SADD will hold a “Friends for Life Inaugural Gala” at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library and Museum to honor Wallace’s years of service to youth and families and to mark SADD’s 30th anniversary. A portion of the proceeds will help fund future CARE at Susquehanna University research. Susquehanna President Lemons will co-chair the event with Gloria Larson, president of Bentley University.
An advisory board will be appointed to help guide the new center. It will include representatives of Susquehanna University’s administration and faculty as well as prominent individuals in the fields of psychology, sociology, medicine, business, and secondary and higher education.Wallace is the author of “Reality Gap,” rated as one of the top 50 books for parents of tweens and teens. He has directed many “Teens Today” research studies for SADD and is a frequent contributor to broadcast stories on teen behavior for outlets such as NBC’s “Today” Show, CNN, Fox News Channel and others. He has served as spokesperson for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and is a frequent speaker at national conferences. Wallace is a member of the DUI Committee for the Institute for Behavior and Health in Washington, D.C. He has authored more than 65 op-ed articles on youth development and decision-making in newspapers around the country.