A letter from the ad hoc committee on mental health

By The Beacon | February 3, 2016 4:18pm

Gary Malecha |


In a letter written to students, faculty and staff last November, President Fr. Mark Poorman reiterated UP’s commitment to “creating sustained initiatives to promote emotional and mental health and wellness on our campus.”

As one part of that commitment, he announced the creation of an ad hoc panel of faculty and staff to review existing policies and procedures in support of promoting wellness in the UP community. He asked the panel to consult with members of the UP community as well as experts from other universities and professional associations “to identify best practices and ensure that we are offering the most effective services and structure for support.”

The ad hoc panel appreciates the constructive concern across the community about its responsibilities and I would like to provide an update of its work. We would first like to emphasize that our panel is charged with the task of carrying out a review of existing policies and services that support mental health and wellness.

Our intention is to identify things UP is doing well and things that have room for improvement and explore ideas raised in conversations with students, faculty, staff and professionals outside our community that would enable UP to provide more effective services and support. We would also like to emphasize that our panel’s work is just one part of the ongoing and important process of attending to the mental health and well-being of our campus community.

Currently, members of the panel have been interviewing and gathering information from a comprehensive range of constituencies and offices across campus. These include staff members within offices of student affairs, the administration, the academic division, ROTC and the department of athletics as well as faculty and students.

We are particularly attending to students’ perspectives and have worked to prioritize the voices and concerns of students as well as staff. The panel has reviewed extensive feedback from students who participated in mental health forums held on campus last April. Members have met with student Resident Assistants. We have scheduled leaders of the student group Active Minds to speak directly to the entire panel. Finally, we have been conducting focus group interviews with students selected through meetings with ASUP and other campus groups.

The panel will also be consulting with professionals beyond the campus to identify “best practices” in campus health services as it works to prepare and submit its report and recommendations in the next several weeks. The panel is taking enough time to make sure to consider the complexity of the issue, but is also tasked with offering a report within this semester to ensure that the broader process attending to campus mental health moves forward.

Students are and will be at the heart of that broader process. We look forward to further collaboration with students and other members of the campus community as we consider the critical importance of mental health and wellness at UP.


Gary Lee Malecha, Ph. D., Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Ad Hoc Review Panel

Amy E. Cavanaugh, Director of the Career Center

Richard Christen, Ph. D., Professor of Education

Karen E. Eifler, Ph.D., Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic and Intellectual Live and American Culture

Andrew M. Guest, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Psychology and Sociology (by courtesy) and Chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences

Alison G. Knoedler, Director of Academics and Student Athlete Development

Joane T. Moceri, Ph.D., Dean and Professor of the School of Nursing

Martin C. Williams, Associate Director of Admissions