USF offers improved health help

With the conglomeration of three USF entities under Student Affairs, administrators say there will be more resources available for students to learn how to get what they need to be healthy and successful, despite all of life’s ever-increasing demands outside of class.

Under the instruction of Student Affairs Vice President Jennifer Meningall one year ago, Student Health Services, Campus Recreation and the Counseling Center began to merge under one cohesive group called Team Wellness.

The broadest goals of Team Wellness – increased student access to the services of all three departments, a greater student learning capacity and increased student awareness of how all areas of their lives affect their ability to learn – will never be met fully and the process of tailoring services to meet those needs will evolve, SHS Director Egilda Terenzi said.

“The more we meet and talk together, the more ideas we come up with,” Terenzi said. “It’s going to be a work in progress for the foreseeable future. Nobody sees this as a flash in the pan. We view it as a long-term project with more things happening and more and more goals being met.”

Directors involved with Team Wellness say they hope the arrangement will produce healthier, more capable students who have an increased awareness on the psychological, physical, social and emotional areas of their lives. They will then be able to better address problems that hamper their learning and get more out of their college experiences.

“What we’re trying to create is something much more than has ever really been envisioned,” said Counseling Center Director William Anton, one of the three Team Wellness administrators. “We’re putting our resources together to create synergies to offer students much more than has ever been possible in the past.”

The creation of Team Wellness is part of a larger restructuring effort in Student Affairs, which has grouped all its departments into seven different learning clusters, each with overarching learning outcomes focused on the development and education of USF students.

“The concept of the cluster is that students and their stories are more than any individual service or program can attempt to address,” said Jim Dragna, senior associate vice president of Student Affairs. “So this is a way to understand the student’s full story and to offer those types of interventions, educational programming and services that will help those students develop as whole human beings in a total experience.”

Students can already see some concrete products of the Team Wellness convergence – more student workshops and a wellness Web site, – but the real impact on the lives of students will be felt starting in the spring semester.

One area of impact includes more emphasis on students’ assessments of the value of an experience with one or all of these entities and how it helps them meet desired learning outcomes. Some of these assessment methods include real-time feedback from students with the use of palm pilots, more strategic ways of tracking student progress such as the Tracking the Academic Progress of Students (TAPS) program and more traditional feedback instruments such as surveys, interviews and focus groups. In addition to allowing administrators to create programming and services that better meet student needs, these assessments will also give students more opportunities for reflective learning, or learning how they learn.

“All of it together, that level of self knowledge and personal efficacy, is really at the heart of learning at a sophisticated level,” Anton said.

A long-term goal of Team Wellness is to house all the Wellness cluster’s departments – SHS, Campus Recreation and the Counseling Center – in one building, allowing for greater student access to the services of each and greater ease in directing students to the area that best addresses their wellness and learning needs.

“It’s just sort of a natural link, containing all three components together like that,” said Eric Hunter, director of Campus Recreation. “People tend to want to look for all wellness-related things in the same place. It’s a one-stop-shopping kind of concept.

“The ultimate goal of the Wellness cluster, and all the other clusters as well, is to put the focus of learning on the student and to make the University and everything it has to offer more accessible. This in turn will help create an environment where each student is plugged in to a learning community catering to their needs, kind of like their own giant search engine.”