Over the past few years, Denison has been expanding its definition of wellness, moving beyond physical and mental health to include wellness education to create lifelong habits for well-being.
The university’s new Ann and Thomas Hoaglin Wellness Center, opened in late August 2022, advances these efforts and establishes a hub for medical, counseling, and wellness-centered activities for the entire campus community. The nearly 16,000-square-foot center, which replaces the health center once housed at Whisler Hall, is the culmination of years of collaborative planning and student-centered research.
“A liberal arts education should help students develop the skills and habits they will need to thrive personally and professionally throughout their lives,” says Denison University President Adam Weinberg. “The Hoaglin Wellness Center will allow us to greatly expand the health services we offer our community to help them lead their best and healthiest lives.”
At the Hoaglin Center, students will be able to consult primary care providers, mental health clinicians, psychiatrists, and dietitians, an expansion of care made possible by Denison’s new partnership with The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, one of the region’s most respected and established academic health centers. This partnership helps the college bring in additional health professionals to expand support for the full campus community — students, faculty, and staff — and to add health services including musculoskeletal and physical therapy as well as increased access to on-campus mental-health and sports medicine services.
A gift and vision for Denison’s commitment to well-being
The Hoaglin Wellness Center is named for Ann and Tom Hoaglin, to honor their philanthropic leadership of the project. The Hoaglins, both members of the Denison Class of 1971, are long-time civic champions and passionate advocates for their alma mater, and their vision for the Hoaglin Center inspired several Denison alumni and parents of Denison students to support the project financially.
“Ann and Tom have long been leaders in the Denison community, and I am grateful for their generosity, and for the gracious support of our alumni and parents who helped fund this project,” Weinberg says. “The interest in this project reflects the global understanding of the importance of good health and wellness.”
Building design that reflects wellness thought leadership
The architectural design of the Hoaglin Wellness Center reflects Denison’s holistic wellness philosophy — the idea that all aspects of well-being are related. The building creates private spaces for consultations and clinical work and open, fluid spaces that support both learning and more casual student interactions, which also extends into the exterior landscape design.
The single-story limestone structure sits along Denison’s Chapel Walk and takes advantage of abundant natural light and vistas. More than 2,600-square-feet of windows frame mature trees, an outdoor meditation garden, and multiple gathering spaces.
Infusing student experience into design and programming
Student input was critical to the Hoaglin Center’s development. To prepare for the building’s opening and new spaces, a group of faculty, staff, and students spent a year developing a vision and action plan for advancing a whole-campus culture of wellness. Julie Tucker, associate vice president of Student Life, also engaged student consultant teams from Denison’s Red Corps fellows program to incorporate their voices into its planning and design.
Tucker, who has been embedded in Denison’s wellness initiatives for more than a decade, says the aim of the center is to provide the resources students need to grow on campus and beyond.
“Our goal is to challenge students to develop the skills and habits that lead to the kind of emotional agility and resilience that will allow them to thrive in their academics, activities, and relationships on campus,” she says. “These will also apply to their time post-graduation, giving them the means to flourish in their careers and personal connections through life.”
The Hoaglin Wellness Center further strengthens Denison’s commitment to student well-being as part of a liberal arts education. In recent years, the college’s wellness team has added staffing resources to meet changing health needs, partnered with the JED Foundation to develop a plan for supporting student mental health, built a financial wellness program to support students’ financial well-being, and created partnerships throughout campus that address social and spiritual health as well as academic success. In 2020, Denison was recognized as an Active Minds Healthy Campus Award winner.
“We need a new conversation on college campuses about health,” Weinberg says. “We need to help students develop the skills and habits to shape their own health. This means talking about the ways life habits such as sleep, nutrition, and exercise impact both physical and mental health. It also means helping students develop the mindfulness tools and emotional agility needed to manage stress and the challenges we experience throughout our lives. I want our students to have the resilience and adaptability to be the architects of their own lives.”