Williamsburg Health Foundation awards William and Mary's Student Affairs Division

hbridges@vagazette.com

The Williamsburg Health Foundation recognized the College of William and Mary’s Division of Student Affairs on Thursday for its holistic approach to health and wellness, presenting the division with the 2016 Williamsburg Health Foundation Award.

“At William and Mary, wellness is a community-wide pursuit and responsibility,” Clarence Wilson, awards committee chair, said during the annual awards ceremony on Oct. 6.

Wilson presented the award and a gift of $10,000 to William and Mary president Taylor Reveley as representatives from the college, the health foundation, local and state government and various community organizations looked on.

“Wellness today goes far beyond the measures we might’ve used to gauge it in years past,” Reveley said in his remarks.

The college, he said, has worked to meet this reality.

“We recognize that there are many dimensions of the human experience that contribute to well-being,” said Virginia Ambler, William and Mary's vice president for student affairs. 

While well-being has always been a focus of the division, Ambler said 2012 marked a “turning point” with the division’s reorganization.

Within this reorganization, a Health and Wellness department was created, with Dr. Kelly Crace as associate vice president for health and wellness.

In terms of defining wellness, Crace said the university has worked to move from a more traditional “illness-based model” to the idea of integrative wellness, a “holistic, multidimensional, inclusive and self-directed, constantly evolving understanding of wellness.”

This approach to wellness includes eight dimensions: social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial and occupational health.

The college provides a variety of resources under the health and wellness department, including campus recreation, health promotion, the counseling center and student health center.

During his remarks, Reveley addressed mental health on campus.

"Mental health looms large on college campuses everywhere, William and Mary included," he said.

Reveley said the college has taken steps forward in the past few years, including hiring the college's first full-time psychiatrist, Dr. Patricia Roy, who started in her role at the counseling center in February.

An Integrative Wellness Center, expected to open in 2018, will house the four Health and Wellness departments in addition to a new Center for Mindfulness and Authentic Excellence.

Crace said the hope is encouraging students to become “active, mature consumers” of wellness resources, figuring out what works best for them as individuals.

In other words, rather than telling students what wellness looks like, “how do we create opportunities for you to discover that for yourself,” Crace said.

And Crace was quick to point out the communal efforts of the division and the university.

“It really is a community responsibility,” he said. “(The award is) a shared community success.”

That’s one reason Ambler believes the college’s work innovative: “the extent to which it has become a priority for the entire university.”

Williamsburg Health Foundation president and CEO Jeanne Zeidler described William and Mary’s approach as innovative and forward thinking and, the foundation hopes, inspiring to the community.

“They’re really looking at health in a holistic way, in a way that we want everybody in our community to do,” she said.

To learn about William and Mary’s wellness efforts, visit wm.edu/offices/wellness or watch this video produced by the health foundation.

For more information about the foundation, visit williamsburghealthfoundation.org.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

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