Anu Räisänen named inaugural Director of HealthEU Initiatives

Räisänen, who will join the university on Aug. 1, will develop and implement university-wide well-being initiatives in alignment with the goals of Boldly Elon.

Elon University has selected Anu Räisänen as the university’s inaugural Director of HealthEU Initiatives following an international search. In this role, Räisänen will develop and implement university-wide well-being initiatives in alignment with the goals of Boldly Elon, the university’s 10-year strategic plan. Räisänen will join Elon on August 1.

Anu Räisänen

“Dr. Räisänen brings to Elon extensive experience in the academic and public health arenas, as well as a commitment to the health and well-being of faculty, staff and students,” said Rebecca Kohn, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “We look forward to her leadership as we advance our HealthEU objectives and identify new ways to support members of the university community in their academic and personal well-being goals.”

Räisänen is currently an assistant professor of physical therapy education and director of the Research and Innovation in Sport and Exercise (RISE) lab at Western University of Health Sciences in Lebanon, Ore. She earned a master of health sciences in exercise medicine from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, Finland, in 2011 and a doctor of health sciences in public health from the University Tampere in Tampere, Finland, in 2018.

Through Boldly Elon and the HealthEU initiative, Elon is building a national model for programs leading to resilience, belonging and all aspects of lifelong personal wellness. The Director of HealthEU Initiatives will support research and faculty engagement and convene opportunities for faculty, staff and students to engage around the topics of wellness and well-being. The director will co-lead the university’s HealthEU Council with the associate vice president for student life/dean of students, and will collaborate with individuals and departments across campus.

Räisänen has pursued a diverse array of experiences nationally and internationally, considering health and well-being from varied perspectives, and guided multiple projects from concept to application. At Western University of Health Sciences, she implemented the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s Partial Academic Pathway as a way to ensure comprehensive training for students. She was a project coordinator for the Cancer Society of Finland, where she developed an educational project on the role of diet and exercise in cancer prevention. At Aino Health Management in Finland, she led an innovative health promotion program to help improve the well-being at work for employees.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to join Elon University as the Director of HealthEU Initiatives,” Räisänen said. “I would like to commend the university leadership for their commitment to campus health and well-being. Creating a national model is a challenge that I am thrilled to take on and I am looking forward to working alongside everyone in the Elon community.”

Kohn offered her thanks to search committee co-chairs Titch Madzima, associate professor of exercise science, and Randy Williams, vice president for inclusive excellence, as well as members of the search committee:

  • Lynda Butler-Storsved, senior lecturer in education
  • Anita Hodnett, director of Counseling Services
  • Maha Lund, dean of the School of Health Sciences
  • Larry Mellinger, director of Campus Recreation and Wellness
  • Jana Lynn Patterson, associate vice president for student life and dean of students
  • Kelli Shuman, associate vice president for human resources and chief human resources officer
  • Tony Weaver, associate dean of the School of Communications