For me, this year in particular signals surges of hope and confidence in our students and the future of Fort Hays State University. This confidence is fueled by the resilience of our students and the determination of our hard-working faculty and staff.
Every day, I look out the window of the President’s Residence and feel hopeful seeing the activity of our campus, the beauty of our grounds, and the promise of the Fischli-Wills Center for Student Success. Everything we do at FHSU is ultimately about student success; that’s what drives us.
“One of the many benefits of our Center for Student Success was the idea of not only creating efficiencies by moving multiple offices to one location, but also rethinking the way these services were delivered,” said Dr. Joey Linn, Vice President of Student Affairs. . “We’ve streamlined student support services so that it’s super easy for students to receive multiple facets of assistance — all in one convenient place, connected to Memorial Union.”
The vision for the three-level center was purposeful and strategic. The first floor focuses on inclusive academic support, such as free tutoring, professional counseling and career services.
Also on the first floor is a student welcome center for prospective students – the heart of our strategic campus enrollment plan. The second floor showcases student organizations and campus activities, ensuring that all students understand the importance of student engagement, whether on campus or online.
“Many universities across the country have established success centers. Most have focused on academic support resources and student engagement opportunities,” Dr. Linn said. “What sets our center apart and makes it truly forward-thinking is the integration of health and wellness services on the third floor.”
The third floor of the Success Center connects all areas of student health – mind, body and soul. From supportive counseling services and accessibility services to convenient and affordable medical services, all focus on the well-being of students.
As we move into a new semester, among our new on-campus staff is Dr. Jeff Curtis, Medical Director of the Health and Wellness Center. Although new to the role, Dr. Curtis is not new to Tiger Nation. He is an FHSU alumnus and can be seen frequently on campus at sporting events and a myriad of other activities. He currently sits on the executive committee of the FHSU Foundation. He is also well known to the community, having served as a cardiologist and director of cardiology services at Hays Medical Center.
The hiring of Dr. Curtis is strategic. This is one of many deliberate decisions we make that fills me with hope and confidence. He not only brings a valuable skill set to the position, but also a philosophy that is in line with the mission of the Center for Student Success.
Gina Smith, Director of Health and Wellness, adds, “Our floor is ideal for meeting the physical and mental health needs of FHSU students. We can easily communicate and collaborate between counseling and health staff to meet the comprehensive needs of our students in a timely manner. I look forward to working with Hays Medical Center to bring specialists to the office of health and wellness services and to implement programs such as preparing nutritious meals on a budget and quick ways to manage the stress for healthy lifestyle.
Will Stutterheim, Deputy Director of Health and Wellness, said, “We are delighted to have someone of Dr. Curtis’ caliber join our team. His relationship with HaysMed is invaluable in helping us work collaboratively to provide the best care for our students. He has had many years of practice and has seen countless innovations in his time as a supplier working in Kansas.
“Our current space gives us the option of having a specialist or tour provider,” Will added. “With Dr. Curtis’ relationships with other city providers and agencies, there is a real opportunity to expand services based on the needs of our students.”
As we think strategically about how we can better serve our students in the future, staff members are exploring expanding services and rethinking how best to care for our students. I look forward to hearing more about new programming and potential new partnerships with local agencies.
Dr Curtis said: “Integrating student physical and mental health services in a collaborative way into one student-centric location made me consider this position.”
“Students are much more likely to succeed academically and socially if they are physically and mentally fit,” he said. “I can think of no better reason to come out of retirement. This is a great opportunity to serve our students and give back to my alma mater.
This center, and the orientation of the staff who work there, truly encapsulates how much student success and a culture of care are at the heart of this great university.