Looking back at 2018: The Year in Review
Dear William James College Community:
This has been a very good year for William James College. We have experienced growth in our business, our applicant pool and our supporters, while our dedicated faculty and staff continue to invest in the education and professional development of our students. Here are some updates from One Wells Avenue.
A Global Presence
Each year, William James College students and faculty take part in service learning and cultural immersion initiatives in countries across the globe. In clinics, hospitals, schools and social service agencies students enter new and challenging environments with much to learn.
Immersion programs are currently offered in Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti and Kenya. In the summer of 2018, 31 William James students and faculty traveled to these countries. In Guyana, the country with the highest suicide rate per capita in the world, Dr. Natalie Cort and her students conducted a 3-day suicide gatekeeper training workshop for 52 attendees. In Haiti, students working with Drs. Jill Bloom and Gemima St. Louis took part in a 10-day immersion experience which focused on Mental Health Literacy. In Kenya, students working with Drs. Claire Fialkov and David Haddad gained perspective provided by a lens into global mental health through development work and partnership with local communities.
In Ecuador, our students learned, worked and collaborated with departments across The Instituto de Neurociencias (INC) de la Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join Dr. Mari Carmen Bennasar and her students for one week of their four-week program. While there, thanks to the work of our Trustee, Mr. Marcos Espinel, we signed a formal academic collaboration agreement with La Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil designed to promote academic, research, and cultural exchange programs for students and faculty.
I invite you to read more about these initiatives in this report, prepared by the Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health.
Impact in our Region
In September, William James College hosted some 500 attendees for our fourth annual forum, which this year explored the Response to the Opioid Crisis in New England. Throughout New England, policy makers, academics, clinicians, business and community leaders, and families and first responders have taken the lead in advocacy for new policies, and in generating novel treatment and early intervention programs to combat the opioid epidemic. By bringing thought leaders together to address societal issues that affect mental health, we hope to inspire more than just conversations – we hope to inspire action. In the spring, with the help of Dr. Chris Bersani at HRSA, William James will host a workshop on Workforce Development in behavioral healthcare.
We continue, too, to serve as a partner to leaders in government. In October, U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III requested a meeting and roundtable discussion with us to explore key issues in mental health that are impacting the country. We discussed substance use disorder, education, culturally-sensitive care, Veterans and military families, criminal justice, and workforce development, and we have pledged to be a resource to the Congressman as he advances important conversations and legislation in this space.
Our recent acquisition of Teachers21 brings a robust opportunity to partner with area school districts around preventive mental health. With schools expressing a greater interest in Social Emotional Learning, together we can help transform the learning environment and promote behavioral health for children by applying the expertise of the Freedman Center, the School Psychology and Organizational Leadership Psychology departments to train principals, teachers and school leaders.
Closer to Home
Here at One Wells Avenue, our enrollment numbers are strong, and we continue to attract excellent students, as measured by faculty ratings and undergraduate achievement. This year’s incoming class came to us from a much larger applicant pool: We saw a 7.5 percent increase in applications, along with a significant increase in inquiries from prospective students. Enrollment in the MA Counseling program almost doubled from last year and the School Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Leadership Psychology and Clinical Psychology programs continue to draw thoughtful, compassionate, creative and committed students. The Admissions Department anticipates another strong enrollment for this spring.
We continue to think strategically about how to build the behavioral health workforce this country so desperately needs and are continuing our efforts to increase enrollment in our BSPsychology and Human Services program. This year we sought new partnerships with the Association for Behavioral Healthcare and several of their larger membership organizations, behavioral health and addiction treatment providers. I invite you to read about our recently announced partnership with Riverside Community Care. We are also strengthening our relationships with community colleges through formal partnership agreements.
I’d also like to congratulate our School Psychology faculty: Their book, Lessons from School Psychology: Practical Strategies and Evidence-Based Practice for Professionals and Parents, is projected to be on shelves on December 21.
The College continues its efforts to increase the diversity of psychology professionals in the country. Programs like the Black Mental Health Academy, Lucero Latino Mental Health Program, Global Mental Health, and the Military Veterans Psychology groups have been sources of professional and personal development, as well as education for the community through summer immersions, workshops and social connections. On campus, the number of self-identified minority staff and students in our community has increased to 19 percent of our student body (up from 7 percent ten years ago during a period when our enrollment grew from approximately 300 to 750 students) and nearly 30 percent of our staff.
In May, the College held a workshop on Creating Diversity in Behavioral Healthcare that brought former Surgeon General David Satcher to campus along with fifty urban and government leaders for an important discussion which evolved to include faith-based and service leaders in Boston.
The emphasis on the BS completion work along with the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Behavioral Health Initiative scholarship and our Serving the Underserved scholarships, are also concrete expressions of the College’s commitment to open the pipeline of professionals of color into applied psychology. We named our second class of scholars for the Serving the Mental Health Needs of the Underserved Scholarship, which recognizes the achievements and promise of students pursuing MA, CAGS, or PsyD degrees. The inaugural cohort of six Fellows welcomed an additional five this year.
I’m also proud to share that this award, which reflects our commitment to promoting social justice and addressing mental health disparities among disenfranchised populations in the U.S., recently received funding from the Hearst Foundations. The Hearst Foundations has awarded us a $100,000 educational grant to support this important initiative. Just this week we received another gift of $20,000 from a friend interested in assisting students working to complete their bachelor's degree, which adds to this support.
One of the privileges of this job is to recognize the exceptional service of our colleagues. Colonel Dr. John Rodolico is a psychologist who is the State Surgeon responsible for the training and medical health of the Massachusetts National Guard. For many years, John, a twice deployed military psychologist, has been a teacher and advocate for behavioral health for our military and veterans. We will celebrate his work and raise funds for our Military Veterans Psychology program on the evening of March 6, 2019. Please make a note to join us in celebrating Colonel Rodolico's mental health leadership.
On April 7, 2019, we will hold our 18th annual Dr. Cynthia Lucero Memorial 5K Walk/Run and on October 17, 2019, we will host An Evening with David Axelrod, a special evening with the founding director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, best known as chief strategist for President Barack Obama. We hope to see you for these events. For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Scott Fraatz.
We thank you for your support in all the ways you’ve shown it this year, and for the ways you will continue to show it in the year ahead. Through gifts of your time and talents, and through actions like mentoring students, making career connections, or simply through sharing information about the College with your networks and prospective students, you help us fulfill our mission every day.
Thank you, too, for your financial support. As enrollment has grown, so has our commitment to providing student scholarships; this investment in our students is now approaching $2 million on an annual basis. Your gifts to support the Annual Fund for Student Scholarships and the other programs and initiatives highlighted among our fundraising priorities are very much appreciated and put to good use developing the highly-trained behavioral health workforce that the Commonwealth and New England needs.
We look forward to continuing to celebrate the ways our community is Meeting the Need and Making a Difference in the year ahead.
Nicholas Covino, PsyD