By Dr.Feridun Hamdullahpur
The start of every term at the University of Waterloo is special. The start of Fall term is even more unique. There is a new energy in the air and spirit of excitement and discovery.
This week we welcome a whole new class of Warriors to campus and with them, limitless opportunities to learn, grow and explore what is possible. Whether this is your first Fall term or fourth, know that there is so much that can be achieved in four short months.
The University knows that to support you in your journey it is important we offer a positive experience in and out of the classroom. These efforts can be seen across campus, including the SLC-PAC expansion and the North Campus Field House that are currently under construction and when completed will enhance the student experience in many ways.
We have also made tremendous strides over the past 18 months to support the mental health needs of our students. The journey started with the formation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Mental Health (PAC-SMH) in early 2017. After extensive consultations with our entire University community the PAC-SMH published its findings and 36 recommendations in a report in March 2018.
Over the past six months the Committee on Student Mental Health (CoSMH) was formed with a focus on reviewing, prioritizing and implementing their recommendations.
The CoSMH with committee Chair, Dr. John Hirdes, have already implemented several of the recommendations, including the hiring of seven new members of the Campus Wellness team. These additions include mental health nurses, care managers, counsellors and psychologists. With the added support from these new staff members we have met the Committee’s report recommendation of one mental health support worker for every 1000 students.
There is still more work to be done and we know this. I encourage you to follow the progress of the CoSMH’s implementation process over the term and as we make new strides over the next year.
I am also excited to have a new University chancellor in global business leader Dominic Barton. I am pleased to also welcome Dr. Jim Rush, former Dean of Applied Health Studies, who started in his new role as Vice-President Academic and Provost on July 1. And, we are progressing through a detailed Strategic Planning process that will have a profound impact on the future of our University.
Amid all this change and progress our entire community remains committed to your education and growth in and out of the classroom. Your ideas, creativity and courage are the lifeblood of our University and we cannot wait to see what you achieve this term.
On behalf of the entire University of Waterloo community, welcome to the start of another outstanding term. We wish you only the best.