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Union to build new wellness center



Click image to enlarge:
Drawing of how the Wicker Wellness Center will look when completed.William Wicker '71, second from left, is flanked by Mark Walsh, chair of the Board of Trustees, and President Stephen C. Ainlay and his wife, Judith, at a groundbreaking for the Wicker Wellness Center.
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Union will build a new health and wellness center that will greatly enhance students' educational experience by offering expanded services to keep them physically and mentally healthy.

Plans for the Wicker Wellness Center were announced Saturday during Homecoming Weekend. Construction of the $2.3 million facility, to be built adjacent to the Alumni Gym, is scheduled to begin early next year. The project should be completed in time for the fall 2013 term.

The two-story, 6,600-square foot building will allow Health Services and the Counseling Center to relocate from its cramped spaces in Silliman Hall. Constructed in 1900, Silliman Hall (which also houses the Office of the Registrar) is at capacity, and the building's infrastructure and configuration can no longer support the needs of the two departments.

The lead gift for the wellness center comes from longtime College benefactor William M. Wicker '71 and his wife, Pamela. Wicker, the vice chairman of Investment Banking, Natural Resources Group at Morgan Stanley, has been a Union Trustee since 2009.

Wicker met with President Stephen C. Ainlay to discuss a number of projects that he might support. He felt strongest about the idea of a new wellness center.

“We can't be excellent in many areas and deficient in one," Wicker told a crowd of College administrators, trustees and staff gathered for a groundbreaking. "We are going to fix that. We can't have students who are sick stay away because there's not enough room to handle them, or applicants who look at other places because they have better facilities."

The first floor of the new building will be occupied by Health Services, which is staffed by nurse practitioners, registered professional nurses and a collaborating physician. The space will include six exam rooms, offices, a conference room, reception and waiting area, and a staff lounge. Among the services available are treatment for illness and injury, gynecological and women's health care, vision tests and physical exams. Health Services handles nearly 4,000 student visits in an academic year.

The wellness center also is supported by Nancy Eppler-Wolff '75 and her husband, John H. Wolff. The Eppler-Wolff Center for Psychological Services will be located on the second floor. The center, which provides confidential individual counseling, couples counseling and roommate conflict mediation, will include a private entry, waiting rooms, six counseling rooms, a relaxation area and offices. Thirty-five percent of Union's students use the counseling center by the time they are seniors, and the center accommodated more than 2,000 individual appointments last year.

Other donors include Norman A. Lasda ’69, Charles M. Wilson and Amy Bermingham (parents of Jack Wilson '14), Mr. and Mrs. Ronald DePoalo (parents of Daniel DePoalo ‘14) and Dr. and Mrs. Marlon S. Rosenbaum (parents of Elliott Rosenbaum ‘15).

Calling the new center a vital part of Union's campus, Ainlay said the project strengthens the College's commitment to the "whole person" with its emphasis on the physical and mental well-being of students.

"This is a gift that will make an enormous difference to this College," Ainlay said in thanking Wicker for his generosity.

The addition of the Wicker Wellness Center is the latest project to greatly enhance living and learning on Union's historic campus. Other major projects include the Peter Irving Wold Center, completed in 2011, and renovations to Lippman Hall and Lamont House. The Henle Dance Pavilion, a 7,000-square-foot home for classes, rehearsals, workshops, performances and other events, is scheduled to be completed in the spring.