A new director of health services was announced Wednesday after the position vacant sat vacant for two years.
Donald Misch, the current director of education in the department of psychiatry and health behavior at the Medical College of Georgia, will take the reins this summer, Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis said. Previous director Mark Gardner stepped down from his position in 2001.
“(Misch) has a good combination of experience, training and vision for the health service,” Banis said. “He will make sure (Searle Student Health Service’s) core function continues to be strong and effective and will build and do better health education and outreach.”
Misch’s appointment comes at a time of change for Searle: The health service center plans to close its infirmary because of a lack of use, add office space and renovate the basement to help combat space concerns, Banis said.
Misch’s background is in both internal medicine and psychiatry, Banis said. After Misch received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, he attended Rush Medical College. He practiced as an internist in Chicago for a number of years and later completed a residency in psychiatry at NU’s Counseling and Psychological Services in the late 1980s, Banis said.
Misch could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.
Banis said Misch’s training as a psychiatrist will be helpful to the Searle staff. In addition to his general responsibilities, Misch will work with university officials and support staff to ensure health education is emphasized.
Kathy Hollingsworth, director of CAPS, said although the programs are separate, students will benefit from Misch’s expertise.
“Being a psychiatrist, he’ll make sure all psychiatric nurses and practitioners are aware of the mental health needs of students and will collaborate with us more closely,” Hollingsworth said. “The other thing is health-education activities will be expanding and that’s a place where we collaborate with health services.”
CAPS has seen a large increase in student visits during the past eight years, Hollingsworth said. In addition to four new staff members, an expanded internship program and increased programming, CAPS will receive more space over the summer. Once the Undergraduate Leadership Program relocates to Crowe Hall, an addition to Kresge Centennial Hall, from its location on 619 Emerson Street, CAPS will renovate the house and move out of Searle and into the house.
Hollingsworth said despite the separation, the two will be tightly connected.
“We try to work with other professionals to raise their awareness and consciousness of mental health needs of students, which is especially important in health services,” she said. “A lot of students will go to doctor with pain when they have a lot of stress, so it’s especially important for psychologists and psychiatrists to work with nurses and physicians. I think Donald Misch will help to do that.”
Matt Warshauer, a student member of the University Advisory Committee on Health Services, said he is looking forward to more direction from Misch.
“There have been a lot of baby steps in terms of improving health services, but it’s difficult to implement any long-term change when you’re scrambling to find long-term leadership,” said Warshauer, a Medill sophomore and nyou staffer. “I hope we can work to make more improvements that can stick.”