This fall, we opened the Ann and Thomas Hoaglin Wellness Center. It replaced Whisler as our student health center. I am proud of this building for what it will do for the college — and how it represents Denison’s positive forward momentum.
At its core, the Hoaglin Wellness Center creates a new home for health services for our students. We have needed more modern facilities for a long time, and the spaces for health care and wellness in this building are fantastic. They are precisely what our staff needs and deserves, and what you would expect to find at a college like Denison.
And the building is about much more.
The design and vision for the building have allowed us to create a new and innovative partnership with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center — a collaboration that offers us access to a wide range of world-class health professionals. For the last few years, students have asked for a more diverse range of health services, and while a college our size will always struggle to provide that alone, this new partnership with the Wexner Medical Center makes it possible.
The partnership also allows us to expand the range of on-campus health services for faculty and staff during the workday, which reinforces our commitment to enhancing the support for the employees who provide life-shaping education and support to our students.
We stayed open during Covid, when many of our peer colleges did not, because of our partnership with the Wexner Medical Center. Now we have developed an innovative collaboration that we believe will be a model for other colleges.
Furthermore, this building creates a new environment to connect with our students about proactively managing health and well-being. The liberal arts are designed to educate and develop whole people. Health should be an integral part of this education. We want our students to be able to take responsibility for their well-being — and to understand that, while none of us is in complete control, we have many tools we can use to shape our physical and mental health. The Hoaglin Wellness Center is home to a wide range of programs that help students develop foundational habits for physical and mental health — sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Part of this is about directly addressing a critical challenge of our times: unhealthy habits around social media and technology that are detrimental to our physical and mental health.
What excited me most is our ability to use this building to help students develop the skills of mindfulness, which can equip us with tools and techniques to move beyond the daily stresses, challenges, and failures of life to successfully create the lives we want for ourselves. A member of the Denison community recently said to me, “We only learn by doing hard things. But we all need the skills to turn hard things into moments of learning and personal growth.”
While there are no panaceas in life, mindfulness comes very close. The programs we are running will help our students develop the emotional agility and resiliency to thrive in a challenging, chaotic, fast-paced, and competitive world.
All of this — the spaces, the partnership with the Wexner Medical Center, the new approaches to helping students take greater control over their health — signify where Denison is headed.
We are a college that is innovating, forming new partnerships, and taking on the big issues that define this historical moment. We are embracing the best of the liberal arts while also developing the next generation of programs to keep them relevant and vibrant.
And, of course, none of this is possible without the incredible support from our Denison community. Thanks to Tom and Ann Hoaglin, and lots of alumni and parents, this building was fully funded by donors.
It would also not be possible without our proximity to Columbus. Columbus and central Ohio are thriving and filled with world-class institutions. Over the past few years, we have started to think about ourselves much more explicitly as a Columbus-based college, and we are continually asking ourselves how we can better take advantage of our amazing location.
The articles in this issue of Denison Magazine capture our direction and momentum in lots of different ways.
I hope you enjoy this issue!