Student Health and Wellness ‘A Top Priority’ for Southern

Student Health and Wellness ‘A Top Priority’ for Southern

student doing a push up
The focus on student health and wellness is part of a larger culture change that has been taking place on campus in recent years and continues to grow.

The key to student success is a multifaceted approach to students’ health, says Southern’s new Student Health and Wellness Center coordinator, Emily Rosenthal, MPH, MSW.

Rosenthal was hired late last year to develop a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to health and wellness education for students.

Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree envisions Rosenthal’s efforts will bring together the growing number of health and wellness initiatives around campus while boosting overall awareness of programming.

“While we have a lot of great people and offices who focus on the health and wellness of our students, Emily will help us provide a more integrated and intentional approach,” Tyree says. 

“Student wellness is a top priority, as it is critical to students’ capacity to learn and be successful at Southern.”

Since arriving on campus in January, Rosenthal has been meeting with key leaders in these areas. “My goal is to find out how a wellness coordinator can help,” she says. “Where do they see gaps, needs, priorities?”

In response to her findings, Rosenthal has preliminarily outlined four general priority areas for student wellness: sleep, stress, nutrition and sexual health. She says that tobacco cessation is a priority as well, and she intends to look at student health data, which the university collects every two years.

Reporting to Diane Morgenthaler, the Center’s director, Rosenthal will head a collaborative wellness team with representatives from Student Health, Counseling, the Fitness Center, Campus Recreation, the Drug and Alcohol Center (DARC), the Women’s Center, the Multicultural/SAGE Center and relevant academic departments.

Morgenthaler says Rosenthal’s “vision to develop a holistic wellness experience is one that we anticipate will contribute significantly to our students’ overall success.”

“There’s so much that is already being done here,” Rosenthal says, “and so much we can do. But it’s important that we take the time to focus and see what our priorities are, so that we’re more effective and efficient.”

With two master’s degrees – in public health and in social work — from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Harvard University, Rosenthal has always worked in health-related fields, mostly focusing on teens and young adults.

Prior to arriving at Southern, she worked in residence life at Harvard and held a variety of positions over a period of three years. As a resident dean in one of the university houses, she worked closely with students as well as faculty and staff around campus.

Now, Rosenthal looks forward to applying her health background and student-focused experiences to strategic health and wellness programming.

“Based on what we see in the student health data, we will come up with a central goal and message that we can collaborate around.”


The focus on student health and wellness is part of a larger culture change that has been taking place on campus in recent years and continues to grow. As part of this movement towards a healthier campus community, Southern is now considering a campus-wide policy that would prohibit smoking and tobacco use.

In February 2014, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy asked Connecticut’s colleges and universities to consider going “smoke-free” as part of a federal initiative. In response, the university’s Health and Safety Committee conducted outreach and research to determine the feasibility of such a move. After several months of studying the issue, the committee concluded that the use of tobacco compromises the well-being of the campus community as a whole, and was ready to propose that Southern become a tobacco-free campus following the spring semester of 2015.

The committee’s proposed policy and timeline has been presented to the campus governance bodies for review and comment before a final recommendation is made to President Papazian. The committee has also encouraged final comments from all members of the community. Read more about the proposed policy.

In another effort to support health and wellness,  Southern is “going red” for the American Heart Association (AHA) through the 2015 Greater New Haven Heart Walk, taking place on Sat., May 2, under the leadership of President Mary A. Papazian, vice-chair of the event. The university has committed to raising $5,000 in support of the AHA, and several SCSU offices and departments have formed teams and begun fundraising by recruiting walkers and donations.

The Greater New Haven Heart Walk is a non-competitive three-mile walk that raises funds and awareness for research, education, and advocacy of cardiovascular disease and stroke right here in Greater New Haven. There is no registration fee to participate in the Heart Walk and no fundraising minimum. The walk will take place at Savin Rock in West Haven on May 2, beginning at 10 am. Learn more.