Sousa to lead new structure
The Health Center and the Psychological Counseling Center will undergo a major shift in their reporting structures, as Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel announced this past week to the centers' directors. They will now comprise part of a "comprehensive student health care model." The new unit will be headed by Director of Athletics Sheryl Sousa '90, who has been promoted to assistant vice president for health and wellness. The Health and Psychological Counseling Centers formerly reported to the Dean of Student Life Jamele Adams.
Flagel announced the changes in an email sent to all staff in the division of students and enrollment on Monday. According to a draft of the email that Flagel sent to the Justice, reorganization into this new model was spurred by recommendations from a review of the Health Center and Psychological Counseling Center conducted by Hodgkins Beckley Consulting.
According to the email, the University also plans to hire an executive director for health and wellness, who will "oversee operations" in both centers. While the job description for this position has yet to be developed, Sousa is currently gathering a team to compose it and search for candidates.
"That will be one of the first things that I'll be looking to do ... to work with folks in the Health Center, the counseling center to develop a job description and then be launching that search," said Sousa in an interview with the Justice. Sousa said she hoped to have an executive director in place before the end of the spring semester.
Sousa, who will retain her current duties as director of Athletics, said that she was offered the promotion at the end of October, and that the report was shared with her, along with other relevant parties, around the same time.
"The new structure takes effect immediately," said Sousa.
The review process was initiated earlier this year when requests for proposal were sent out to several consulting companies.
HBC was chosen to review the structures at the Health Center and Psychological Counseling Center, beginning their research in the late spring to early summer, said Flagel in an interview with the Justice.
HBC collected data and conducted interviews on campus during the summer, and "we began to get feedback reports this fall," he said.
While several other members of senior management were briefed on the consultation throughout the process, said Flagel, the decision to restructure was solely his. Flagel did not give the Justice specific dates for the decision-making process, but said that "this was all crystallized by the end of the summer."
In an interview with the Justice, Sousa described the change in mentality that she felt the new model would bring. "The idea of this model which works together [with] all of these offices that deal with student health and wellness in some capacity," said Sousa, would "bring them together in a more focused way so that, so my role would be to look at it in a more broad, university-wide perspective from a strategic planning perspective."
When asked about the decision to promote Sousa to this role, Flagel said that "one of the key aspects was the talent and the background that [Sousa] brings to a role like this," and that there seemed to be a strong alignment with health services and athletics.
However, he also noted that, specifically in regard to the shift in oversight from the Dean of Students' office, "There's not a particular set of qualifications in any one of those offices for aligning or managing the health of our students. ... Is athletics or the chaplaincy more or less aligned with health care? I don't know that there's an easy answer to that question."
When asked about the new model in an interview with the Justice, Dr. Debra Poaster, medical director of the health center, said "[t]his is a pretty new thing for us. I think that it was actually in the strategic framework [and] I'm hopeful that it will be a great plan."
Poaster said she did not know whether she or other representatives from the Health Center would be involved in the search for an executive director but added that "we're excited about the possibility of working with Sheryl Sousa."
Dr. Robert Berlin, senior director of the Psychological Counseling Center, declined to comment and said that Flagel instructed him not to answer the Justice's questions. Berlin directed the Justice to Flagel's office.
Adams was unable to be reached for comment by press time.
-Marissa Ditkowsky, Sam Mintz and Andrew Wingens contributed reporting