John R. Seffrin


Honorary Degree (2008)
Doctor of Science
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Michael A. McRobbie


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, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree on December 20, 2008 during Winter Commencement at IU Bloomington.

"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."

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.

Before joining the IU faculty, Seffrin was a faculty member in health education at Purdue University from 1970 to 1979, serving as chair of Health and Safety Education from 1977 to 1979.

Dr. Seffrin holds the Bachelor of Science degree from Ball State University, the Master of Science in Health Education from the University of Illinois, and the Ph.D. in Health Education from Purdue University. He has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees by both Ball State and Purdue Universities.

Seffrin has served in many leadership positions, including as a member of the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health; treasurer of the Partnership for Prevention; co-chair of the National Cancer Legislation Advisory Committee; chair of the National Health Council Board of Directors; and treasurer of the National Dialogue on Cancer, chaired by President George H. W. Bush. He has also served as president of the International Union against Cancer, based in Geneva, Switzerland, which coordinates efforts across the globe to contain cancer. He was the recipient of the Presidential Citation from the Society for Public Health Education in Washington, D.C., in 2007. He has served on the boards of directors of 40 organizations.