HC Alum tapped for Bush Administration

Charles Curie being considered to head health agency
Huntington, Ind.—Huntington College alumnus Charles Curie is being considered by President Bush to head the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Curie, the Pennsylvania Deputy Secretary for the Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for the past six years, graduated from Huntington College in 1977 with a B.A. in psychology and sociology.

“In his six years as the state’s Commissioner of Mental Health, Charles Curie has helped thousands of Pennsylvanians with mental illness and substance-abuse problems to reclaim their lives,” said Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge in a news release announcing Curie's candidacy for the federal post.

“Thanks to Charley, Pennsylvania is one of the first states in the nation to institute a campaign to educate communities about the obstacles people with mental illness face due to prejudice and stigma,” Gov. Ridge continued. “He also has been at the forefront of retooling Pennsylvania’s mental-health system. Because of his expertise, people with serious mental illness and addictive disease can seek treatment that fosters recovery and enables them to lead more independent, productive lives in their communities.”

Curie has led Pennsylvania’s seclusion and restraint-reduction initiative. This effort has improved the quality and dignity of treatment for thousands of mental-health consumers by safely and significantly reducing the use of seclusion and restraint in nine state mental hospitals. This initiative was selected from more than 1,300 applicants nationwide for the Harvard/Ford Foundation Innovations in American Government Award last year.

Curie, Huntington College’s 1996 Alumnus of the Year, earned his master’s in social-service administration from the University of Chicago in 1979. In an interview with the Huntington College Magazine in 1996, Curie said that HC has had a positive effect on every part of his life. He credits HC with making the difference in his life by providing a strong academic, spiritual and emotion foundation.

“I was a student at Huntington College when I came to understand how a person’s career can be integrated with the absolute truth of the Scripture. My decision to try to make a difference in the lives of those with the greatest need developed at Huntington. As I took my faith more seriously, I began to understand that, if it were possible for me to do something to help people, I would do so as an ambassador of Christ.”

Curie and his wife, Candace (1978 HC graduate), currently reside in Bethlehem, Pa. His previous positions have been Director of Risk Management Services for Henry S. Lehr Inc. in Bethlehem, Pa.; President/C.E.O. of the Helen H. Stevens Community Mental Health Center in Carlisle, Pa., Cumberland County; and Executive Director/C.E.O. of the Sandusky Valley Center in Tiffin, Ohio.

Upon a nomination by President Bush, Curie’s position will require congressional approval. SAMHSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is charged with improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services to reduce illness, death, disability, and cost to society resulting from substance abuse and mental illnesses.

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Heather Barkley
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