Last Thursday, Vice President for Campus Life Steve Klass announced via daily messages that Gwendolyn “Wendy” Adam, Ph.D., M.S.W., LICSW will be the new director of psychological counseling services. starting Nov. 7.
Adam will succeed Paul Gitterman and Karen Theiling, who are currently serving as interim co-directors. The director position has been vacant since the retirement of co-directors John Miner and Margi Wood in June 2015.
“Wendy brings wide-ranging clinical skills, substantial academic accomplishments and deep leadership experience to this essential role,” Klass said in the message. “Wendy has inspired us to imagine this community as a model for undergraduate education that encompasses heart, body and spirit as well as mind.”
Adam will oversee the current eight therapists and psychotherapists at the Health Center, three of whom are post-graduate fellows who work on two-year contracts.
“Psychological services has continued to grow over the past several years, nearly doubling in staff size in the five years since I’ve been involved,” Klass said. “The fact that we’re able to see so many students with some of the shortest wait times and no limits on the number of visits stood out to everyone with whom we spoke.”
That being said, Klass acknowledges that psychological services is far from perfect.
“We’re fully aware that we have substantial work to do in a number of areas and we’re extremely excited about Dr. Adam’s vision and leadership in each of these arenas,” Klass said. “Our high-level shared goal is to create a national model for holistic student wellness and thriving, inclusive of mind, body, heart and spirit. This requires a multifaceted approach that begins with evaluating the systemic sources of pressure and stress and working toward developing an institutional culture of mindful self-care. Wendy’s work is system-oriented and evidence-based, interrogating systemic causality at the outset and applying evidence-based evaluative tools to measure student therapeutic outcomes.”
Staff size and diversity remain major concerns regarding psychological services.
“Under Dr. Adam’s leadership we seek to work closely with students to answer fundamental questions about staff size and composition,” Klass said. “As Wendy shared with us, one of her initial and prioritized intentions is to set a series of listening and learning sessions with groups of students to hear directly from them about their experiences and needs, ideas about what might help and how she can partner with them well as she join their community. Dr. Adam believes wholeheartedly that the wisdom of students is essential in creating and offering support for their thriving.”
Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Leticia Haynes chaired the search committee, which conducted a national search to fill the vacant position.
“The feedback the committee received from everyone who participated in the search process was remarkably enthusiastic based on Wendy Adam’s inclusive listening ability, holistic approach to student wellness, ability to articulate the importance of cultural competence, experience working with a diverse community and supporting an inclusive environment and understanding the systemic causes of student stress,” Haynes said. “The committee believed these attributes in the next PCS director would further the college’s efforts to serve the needs of students.”
Adam worked as an associate professor at Central Connecticut State University’s (CCSU) School of Education and Professional Studies. She taught courses in clinical practice, social policy and health systems. Before working at CCSU, Adam served as the director of the School of Social Work and associate professor at Grand Valley State University.