Marywood’s administration will be ending the employment of four seasonal employees in the Counseling/Student Development Center (CSDC) at the end of the semester.
Director of the CSDC Dr. Robert Shaw said fiscal accounting has identified that the Counseling Center has overrun its budget for seasonal help, which includes part-time employees who work no more than 32 hours per week.
According to Shaw, four part-time employees fall into this category. One is a social worker, two are licensed professional counselors and one is a licensed psychologist. These individuals have clients and provide supervision to students in their respective disciplines.
Shaw said Marywood’s administration agreed to keep the employees until the end of the semester, but then will end their employment. He added that there will be a set budget for seasonal employees in the next fiscal year, but the university is still establishing this budget.
“We really don’t have a final number as to how much is going to be in that seasonal help budget, nor do we have a start date for when seasonal help could be brought back into the Counseling Center,” said Shaw.
Shaw said the university is in a “cost containment mode campus-wide” and added that the Counseling Center is not being singled out with other faculty and administrative changes throughout the university being made to save money.
The release of the final Strategic Resource Allocation (SRA) report, which was completed to help the university’s financial state, placed the CSDC in Quintile One, which falls under the category of “a candidate for enhanced resourcing.”
According to the SRA report, the CSDC is to “hire permanent staff rather than using seasonal help.” The report also noted that “salaries are low for the importance and volume of work performed.”
“If I could use a magic wand, it would be to simply enact what the SRA said needed to be done,” said Shaw. “That’s what I believe needs to happen.”
According to Shaw, an average of 300 or more students use the services provided by the CSDC during the academic year.
The CSDC works with both the student life and the academic division of the university. On the academic side, Shaw said students who are at the end of their practicum or internship experience of their master’s or doctoral degrees provide the services.
The CSDC provides other services for students including alcohol and drug education if a student violates the university’s policies, the Promoting Awareness of the College Transition (PACT) program, Peers on Wellness (POW) program and the Relationship and Empowerment (RAE) program.
Because both the academic and student life divisions need the Counseling Center, Shaw said it is a “certainty” that there will be services provided to students in the fall, even with changes being made to the number of employees.
However, with the elimination of seasonal employees at the end of the semester, Shaw said it leaves him and Associate Director of the CSDC Barbara Decker as the only ones working who are licensed during the summer. The two will supervise the trainees who provide services during the summer.
“I am hoping that by the time this all shakes out there will be no discernible changes for the fall semester,” said Shaw.
Current Graduate Trainee Kaitlin Caldwell, a master of social work student, said she thinks the removal of the four seasonal employees is “extremely detrimental” to students at Marywood and trainees at the CSDC.
“I know that I wanted to be an intern at the Counseling Center specifically because of the excellent supervision they have, and a lot of that supervision is done by that seasonal staff,” said Caldwell.
She added that she thinks the removal of the seasonal employees is going to dramatically change the CSDC and the overall wellness of Marywood.
“I think it could really stigmatize getting help and really discourage students for reaching out for help when they really need it,” said Caldwell.
Caldwell expressed her concern to Marywood President Sr. Mary Persico, IHM, Ed. D; Provost Dr. Susan Turell; Assistant Vice President for Student Life Dr. Amy Paciej-Woodruff; and Vice President for Enrollment Services and Student Success Ann Boland-Chase, as well as other professors in the program.
According to Caldwell, Persico agreed to meet with concerned students, but said it may not change the circumstances.
“We want administration to know that it’s not just the trainees that care. It’s an issue for everyone and the overall well-being of students is so important,” said Caldwell.
Ashleigh Ollila, a third-year student in the clinical psychology doctoral program who is currently a graduate assistant in the psychological services center and a student therapist in the CSDC, said she feels a lot of uneasiness about Marywood and the funding and support for the counseling program.
“I moved here for this specific program from the west coast and it seems like such an amazing opportunity and so far, the Marywood administration has not made it easy,” said Ollila.
Ollila said one of her biggest questions is why this decision was made.
“I’m concerned for all the clients. I’m concerned for my training,” said Ollila.
Ollila and Caldwell as well as other students plan to bring their concerns to the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on Tuesday, April 25 at 9 p.m. where Persico will be in attendance.
Follow The Wood Word for a recap of Tuesday’s SGA meeting.
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