In December, NIRSA, NASPA, and ACHA invited seventeen thought leaders to participate in a research summit on wellbeing at NASPA’s Washington DC headquarters. The goal of that meeting was to begin conversations around the research-focused call to action in the Health and Wellbeing in Higher Education: A Commitment to Student Success.

Participants at that meeting generated a wealth of background knowledge and new ideas on initiatives that could benefit from joint-associational efforts. Since then, the associations have been working on refining and prioritizing these ideas. As a part of this effort, they presented to and sought feedback from attendees at the annual NIRSA, NASPA, and ACHA conferences.

A special thank you to all who contributed to the robustly attended session at NIRSA 2019! Your feedback and demonstrated interest made a marked impact on this work!

During the last few months of ongoing conversation and feedback, several items resoundingly rose to the top of the list. These included the desire for a shared, agreed upon definition of wellbeing; a repository of resources shard and affirmed by signatory associations to the Commitment; research examining the link between wellbeing initiatives and student success; and tools for building cohesive and effective narratives around this work.

On June 26, a group of thought leaders gathered for a second research summit. Graciously hosted by NIRSA Past President Bill Crockett and the University of Maryland-Baltimore, the group focused on moving several of those priorities into action.

Association staff are still synthesizing notes from the event and working to follow up further with the participants. Once ready, the outcomes and/or proposed next steps for each item will be further vetted by a group of experts within each association. For NIRSA, one such group will be our Health & Wellbeing Task Force. Stay tuned to NIRSA health and wellbeing news and @NIRSAlive social media channels for further communication as these items develop.

Thank you to all who participated

In addition to staff from ACHA, NASPA, and NIRSA, the research summit participants included:

  • Gina Abrams, Director of Research and Program Evaluation, International Institute for Restorative Practices
  • Stacy Andes, Director of Well-being Assessment/ Director of Well-being, Villanova University
  • Tim Arth, Senior Team Lead, Strategic Business & Resource Development, ACPA
  • Nicole Brocato, Director of the Wellbeing Assessment Study, Wake Forest University
  • Hollie Chessman, Research Fellow, American Council on Education (ACE)
  • Wanda Collins, AVP of Campus Life, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) Board member
  • Bill Crockett, Executive Director, Campus Life Services, University of Maryland-Baltimore
  • Dianna Clauss, Director of Recreation Programs, Rider University, NIRSA Foundation research grant recipient
  • Stacy Connell, Senior Director of Health Initiatives, Georgia Tech
  • Shannon DuPree, Director of Wellness, North Carolina State University
  • Nick Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Director of the Doctoral Program at CUNY’s School of Public Health, CUNY
  • Laura Hall, Senior Director, Campus Recreation, Penn State University
  • Kat Marriott, Director, BHAC
  • Todd Misener, Chief Wellness Officer, Oklahoma State University
  • Katie Murray, Director, New Student and Family Programs, Towson University, NODA Board member
  • Marguerite O’Brien, Director of Wellness, University South Carolina
  • Allison Smith, Assistant Director, Population Health, NYU
  • Katrin Wesner-Harts, Director, Abrons Student Health Center, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, ACHA President
  • For more information, contact NIRSA Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships, Erin O’Sullivan.
Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships at |

Erin O'Sullivan is currently the Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships at NIRSA.