About COPE


Obesity rates in the United States have reached epidemic levels and impacts people of all ages, races and socioeconomic levels. The rise in obesity and its related diseases has led to a call to action from all segments of society.  In response to this urgent need, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova University established the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE).

Established in 2011 through the generous support of The MacDonald Family Foundation and The Take Shape for Life Foundation, the Center serves as a locus for interdisciplinary collaboration in the prevention of obesity through education and research.  It will support and foster the growing need for development of healthy lifestyles and behaviors among Americans. 


The MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) will be a leading academic center dedicated to providing evidence-based instruction and conducting, implementing, and evaluating applied obesity prevention and treatment research that is translatable to clinical practice and public health programming.


The mission of the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education is to provide education and conduct and disseminate research findings that promote healthy weight management that leads to the prevention and reduction of obesity and obesity-related diseases across the lifecycle of a diverse population. As the first obesity center located within a college of nursing, COPE will equip the next generation of nurses and other practicing health professionals and health coaches with evidence based training needed to competently and confidently help prevent and/or treat obesity and obesity-related diseases. COPE will establish broad based partnerships with academics, clinicians and public and private community stakeholders and participate in translational obesity-related research and education.


Through the united expertise of physicians, nurses, dietitians and other health professionals, the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education will develop strategic initiatives to address the obesity epidemic nationally and globally.  The Center's goals are to:

1. Enhance the education of nursing and other college students in nutrition, obesity prevention and health promotion strategies.

2. Provide continuing education programs on obesity and obesity-related disease for health professionals and educators.

3. Participate in research to expand and improve evidence-based approaches for obesity prevention and intervention among community-based populations.  


Accreditation Status  

ANCC logo

Villanova University Fitzpatrick College of Nursing is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center Commission on Accreditation.

CDR logo

Villanova University Fitzpatrick College of Nursing MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) is a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Accredited Provider with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

Non-Endorsement Statements

Accredited status does not imply endorsement by Villanova University or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or used with an activity.

Continuing Professional Education Accredited Provide Status does not constitute endorsement by CDR of a provider, program or materials.

ACSM approved providership of this program does not imply endorsement of the sponsoring organization’s products/services.

Contact COPE Staff

Rebecca Shenkman MPH, RDN, LDN, Director

Lisa K. Diewald, MS, RD, LDN, Program Manager  

Libby Mills, MS, RD, LDN, FAND, Dieititian for Employee Counseling  

Louisa Zullo, Continuing Education Program Assistant