In an attempt to use resources more efficiently, the University of Richmond has brought all wellness-related programs and departments on campus under the jurisdiction of a single entity known as the Health and Well-Being Unit, said Marti Tomlin, director of recreation.

The unit will consist of the Student Health Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, and two newly separated departments, the Recreation department and the Health Promotion department. These departments branched off from the previously unified Recreation and Wellness department.

To solidify the unit’s presence on campus, the university has begun construction on a new building that will accommodate all four departments, said Tom Roberts, associate vice president of health and well-being. Student Health, CAPS, Recreation and Health Promotion will each operate on its own floor of the building. The building is expected to be complete by fall 2020, Roberts said.

“It’s about collaboration of care,” Roberts said about the new unit and building.

More than 50% of the students who visit the Student Health Center do so for mental reasons, rather than medical reasons, Roberts said. Right now, in such cases, employees of Student Health would recommend the student walk across campus to the counseling center.

“That student might leave there with good intentions of doing that,” he said, “but that’s a long walk and they may never get there.”

With the new building, such students will be able to move from department to department just by climbing a flight of stairs.

“It’s one-stop shopping for the students,” Roberts said.

In addition to the new unit and building, the splitting of Recreation and Wellness is an attempt to create more efficient care delivery on campus, said Heather Sadowski, director of health promotion.

The decision was based on a model already used by many universities across the nation. 

“University Recreation includes Outdoor Adventure, fitness, student rec center, recreational facilities, intramurals, sport clubs,” Tomlin said, “so that’s a standalone department on a lot of campuses.”

Health Promotion will have a separate set of responsibilities. 

"[The department] will focus on education and prevention efforts for both students and employees on campus,” Sadowski said. “My goals are really to create a culture of health and well-being where everyone knows it’s important to take care of the mind and the body all at the same time.”

Sadowski believes the split will help support well-being programming moving forward. 

“We really want to work together to break down any barriers, any silos,” she said, “and really do that upstream approach to well-being.”

Health Promotion will use the split to expand its services as well as grow its initiatives and events, Sadowski said.

More information on the new building and the unit’s strategic plan and initiatives can be found here.

Contact news writer Alan Clancy at alan.clancy@richmond.edu.