April 20, 2004

Contact: Sean Pauzauskie, Student Union Activities, (785) 864-2428, spzazz@hotmail.com.

Joycelyn Elders to give first Canuteson Memorial Public Health Lecture April 26

LAWRENCE -- Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, known for her outspoken advocacy on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, will kick off the Canuteson Public Health Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Monday, April 26, at the Lied Center at the University of Kansas. The event is free.

Student Union Activities and Watkins Memorial Health Center at KU are sponsoring the lecture. The Public Health Lecture Series is funded by the Ralph I. Canuteson Memorial Lectureship Fund through the KU School of Medicine in Kansas City, Kan.

Canuteson was the first full-time director of Student Health Services from 1928 to 1965. He died in 1970. His widow, Elsie P. Canuteson, bequeathed funding for lectures on public health education and public health medicine on the Lawrence campus in her husband's honor.

Elders, who served as surgeon general from September 1993 to December 1994, has vowed to change America's thinking about health by emphasizing illness prevention. She has initiated programs to combat youth smoking and teen pregnancy and to increase childhood immunizations. She advocates public health over private profits in health care reform, openness over censorship in sex education and rehabilitation over incarceration in the war against drugs.

Elders, who was the first African-American and second female U.S. surgeon general, last spoke at KU in 2000.

Her resignation in 1994 was prompted by her comments regarding masturbation education at a United Nations conference on AIDS. She also has advocated abortion rights, drug legalization and condom distribution in schools.

Elders, 70, was born the eldest of eight children to sharecropping parents. She grew up in Arkansas in a three-room cabin with no electricity and no indoor plumbing. After serving in the U.S. Army, she used the GI Bill to attend the University of Arkansas Medical School, graduating in 1960. She earned a master's degree in biochemistry in 1967 and tenure as a professor at the University of Arkansas Medical School in 1976.

In 1987, then-Gov. Bill Clinton appointed Elders as Arkansas' chief public health director and in 1993, as U.S. surgeon general. She is working with the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group, to get states to adopt medical marijuana laws.

For more information, call (785) 864-SHOW or visit the SUA Web site, www.suaevents.com.

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