Campus to get a healthy dose of wellness

Publication Date

Coinciding with the opening of the Wicker Wellness Center, the College will devote the academic year to promoting a culture of wellness across campus.

Located next to Alumni Gym, which includes Breazzano Fitness Center, Wicker is the new home of Health Services and the Counseling Center.

The focus on wellness supports a key priority of the recently revised strategic plan.

Through a series of events, speakers and programs involving a diverse mix of departments, from Academic Affairs to Dining Services to Athletics, the focus will enhance Union's commitment to the education of the whole person.

"The opening of the Wicker Wellness Center is a tremendous opportunity for the campus community, to be healthier ourselves, mentally and physically, and to understand more deeply what it takes to foster health on both a local and a global scale," said Acting President Therese McCarty.

A major part of the wellness initiative will concentrate on the academic side of public health, including local and global issues, the history of public health and the contributions Union alumni have made in the field.

Among the events planned:

  • Dr. Padmini Murthy, physician and activist for public health and human rights, will speak Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. in the Nott Memorial as part of the Presidential Forum on Diversity. In August, she was the first American to receive the prestigious Jhirad Oration Award for a talk highlighting the strong link between women’s health, human rights and the well-being of society.
  • A new exhibit, "On Being: Picturing the Pursuit of Wellness through the Creative Process," opens in the Mandeville Gallery in January. This contemporary show will feature three figurative artists and their visual explorations of well-being through the symbolic use of destruction and reconstruction of form, the incorporation of spiritual
    iconography and the direct confrontation of mortality.
  • In April, the College will host a symposium on careers in public health and wellness.

The Founders Day speaker in February will also support the theme of health and wellness.

In addition to these, programs will touch on the social, spiritual, nutritional, physical and emotional components of wellness.

For example, Dining Services has a number of new wellness initiatives, including:

  • My Fitness Pal App: Customers can track their food consumption and compare it to goals they establish in the app (i.e. calories, carbs, fat, etc.). The menu items in resident dining have bar codes that can be scanned from a mobile device and loaded into the planner.
  • Mindful: Features icons on posted menus indicating vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, local, organic and carb-friendly choices to encourage customers to be mindful.
  • Rate My Plate: Once a month, a dietician will visit dining halls to assess the plate of any guest to see how the selections made compare to national plate nutrition.
  • Simple Servings: Directed to all students dealing with food allergies and sensitivities, this will be offered at lunch and dinner at the waffle bar station in Upper Class and be marketed as an allergen-free zone.

David Gaul, director of Dining Services, said the department will promote healthy eating in other ways, including snack bag giveaways in the dining halls on the first Monday of every month, offering more gluten free options at Dutch Hollow and the Rathskeller, and a increased emphasis on vegan and vegetarian cuisine.

The proximity of Wicker to the fitness center also will allow the College to expand strategies for greater self-care. This includes introducing more activities, such as power yoga and spinning classes. Athletics has purchased 16 spinning cycles and will offer 11 classes in the popular exercise, according to Mike Polsinelli, director of Wellness, assistant director of Intramurals and Recreation and chair of the College's Wellness Committee.

Polsinelli said Athletics will join with its new neighbors on additional programs.

An upcoming Wicker Wellness Center open house will feature giveaways, such as healthy snack bags. Students also will be able to meet with nutritionists. There will be a series of Common Lunch meetings with varying themes. Other programs are also being developed.

The first floor of the new building is occupied by Health Services, which is staffed by nurse practitioners, registered professional nurses and a collaborating physician. The space includes six exam rooms, offices, a conference room, reception and waiting area, and a staff lounge.

The Eppler-Wolff Center for Psychological Services is on the second floor. The center, which provides confidential individual counseling, couples counseling and roommate conflict mediation, includes a private entry, waiting rooms, six counseling rooms, a relaxation area and offices.

The Wicker Wellness Center will be officially dedicated at Homecoming next month.