• Posted on: 28 September 2018
  • By: lwiseblau

Carole Kenner, PhD, RN, FAAN, FNAP, ANEF is the Carol Kuser Loser dean of the School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). We recently spoke to learn more about the health and wellness at her institution.

TCNJ is a highly selective institution, named by U.S. News & World Report as the number one public regional university in the northeast. Founded in 1855 as the New Jersey State Normal School, TCNJ currently has a student body of 7552, with 858 faculty, 1185 fulltime staff and 545 part time staff.

TCNJ manages its wellness programming via an assistant vice president for Student Affairs­–Health and Wellness, who is responsible for providing oversight and leadership in the area of health and wellness for students.  This includes Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Alcohol and other Drug Education Program, Anti-Violence Initiatives, Collegiate Recovery Program, Recreation and Wellness, and Religious and Spiritual Life.

This past year, student wellness programming was focused on four basics: Eat, Sleep, Move, And Breathe. The university also increased programming in understanding and building resiliency.

TCNJ’s Peer Education Program, which centers on Health and Wellness, was developed in 2017.  There were approximately 802 students who participated in the program last year. Peer Education also offers programming in financial wellness, nutrition and sleep hygiene.

 “We believe health and wellness to be foundational to the pursuit of knowledge,” said Kenner. “Our mission is to promote and nurture a community of care supportive of healthy life long personal and relational behaviors. We provide TCNJ students with opportunities for development in all areas of wellness: intellectual, spiritual, financial, emotional, physical, social, and environmental through advocacy, education, services, and programs.”

Among TCNJ’s student wellness programs is Thrive: Wellness Expo with both on and off-campus vendors offering massage therapy, food samples from TCNJ dining, demonstrations from Health and Exercise Science, and a raffle with chances to win a variety of prizes. The event was open to students, faculty, and staff and according to Kenner focused on “creating a culture of wellness at TCNJ, at home, and the world around us.” Some 700 students participated. Students, faculty and staff also receive a health and wellness quarterly newsletter. Last fiscal year, the newsletter was sent to approximately 9300 recipients.

Most staff wellness initiatives began when the university joined BHAC in 2013. The university now has a number of internal partners who work together on health initiatives such as its employee assistance program, counseling and psychological services, spiritual center, the Center for Integrative Wellness at TCNJ and others.

The College has convened advisory committee to the newly formed Center for Integrative Wellness at TCNJ (CIW) that discusses health and wellness issues. Kenner said they are attempting to infuse the concept of health and wellness into the culture at TCNJ.  “We do this through programming; utilizing a wellness wheel that highlight the seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental and financial; organizing the health and wellness portfolio to work together in promoting a holistic view of health and wellness; developing a peer education program focusing on health and wellness.”

Additionally, internal funding provided a grant for making the campus more accessible to all last year. This included placing of benches throughout the campus that can be used for meditation, resting and reflection and electric carts with wheelchair accessibility to ensure mobility of all throughout the campus. TCNJ also purchased standing desks and other office supports to encourage wellness.

The College intends to move forward with new initiatives. “A new grant from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will allow us to build a Recovery and Wellness Suite within our current Recreation Center by 2019,” said Kenner.

The key to successful health and well programs is cross-campus involvement, Kenner said. “It’s important to get buy in and input from all—upper administration, faculty, staff, and students.  There has to be commitment on the part of the institution to make health and wellness a strategic priority. Ideally there needs to be centralized coordination of these efforts.”