This academic year has brought many changes to the Lauderdale Center for Student Health & Counseling, including the appointments of psychiatric nurse practitioner Barbara Dahlberg and interim Director of Health and Counseling Tamara Kenney. Kenney––who previously served as the Assistant Dean of Students for Student Conduct and Community Standards for almost 15 years at Geneseo before she filled Melissa DuBois’ position––is already putting plans in place to make Lauderdale more visible to students during her seven-month stint as interim director.
A licensed master of social work, Kenney began her interim position in December by securing the purchase of two four-wheeled scooters for Lauderdale.
“They are available to faculty, staff and students who have a temporary disability,” she said. “You can sign it out for two weeks and if at the end of the two weeks you still need it, we could sign it out for another two weeks. There is a maximum of four weeks we could sign it out because we only have two; we want to make sure that were being fair to everyone on campus.”
Kenney noted that while the scooters are indeed a positive addition to Lauderdale, there is more that needs to be done in order to increase its accessibility to students.
“I think that the physical placement of Lauderdale creates problems. I think that it’s isolated in the sense of where it’s physically located––it’s not on the beaten path and when you come to this building, you’re coming for a very specific purpose,” she said. “On the reverse side, we need to take the staff of health and counseling out, and that’s very hard to do with their schedules and when you’re trying to meet the demands of the students.”
In an effort to reach out to the campus community, Kenney will be meeting with the Student Health Advisory Committee multiple times a semester in order to talk about important topics, such as the student health fee and additional services Lauderdale should be providing.
“I think it’s important to be talking to them [SHAC members] and evaluating the services we have throughout the semester,” she said.
A major part of these services includes the counseling services available at Lauderdale. With this in mind, Kenney emphasized a need to focus on removing negative stigma surrounding these counseling services.
“We do have students who are coming to us with these conditions and with these needs to stay on their medication or continue counseling,” she said. “We do need to [remove the stigma] in a very positive way so people don’t feel like, ‘Oh you’re going to Lauderdale for counseling.’”
According to Kenney, these efforts to further improve the services Lauderdale provides must come from an internal agreement and desire to change.
“I think that we at Lauderdale need to make that part of our commitment to provide exceptional service, which is easy to do since we have exceptional staff,” she said. “But if students don’t know we have exceptional programs and service here, then it takes away from what we can provide to people. I think we need to start internally and really define what Lauderdale is and then grow from there.”