McLeod Tyler Wellness Center opens doors to public

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The Wellness Center will include two gardens — a compassion garden and a Zen garden — as well as a patio. MADELINE MONROE / THE FLAT HAT

Tuesday, Aug. 28, College of William and Mary President Katherine Rowe, alongside Board of Visitors members, student leaders and donors, gathered in front of the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center for a  ribbon-cutting ceremony honoring its opening and the beginning of a new chapter in the College’s path to integrative wellness.

“We will use this new center to transform the story of wellness in this community,” Rowe said. “This is a place for health as well as a place for healing. It’s an inviting space for all to grow in both of those things — a space of recreation and re-creation. We can hear in that word, ‘re-creation,’ that recreation has its roots in renewal and transformation.”

“We will use this new center to transform the story of wellness in this community,” Rowe said. “This is a place for health as well as a place for healing. It’s an inviting space for all to grow in both of those things — a space of recreation and re-creation. We can hear in that word, ‘re-creation,’ that recreation has its roots in renewal and transformation.”

In 2015, the College received $1.5 million in a joint donation from Bee McLeod ’83 MBA ’92 and Tyler Goody to fund the construction, design and programming of the future Wellness Center. After a period of construction, the Wellness Center now houses the Counseling Center, the Student Health Center and wellness programs like yoga from the Student Recreation Center.

New additions, like the Center for Mindfulness and Authentic Excellence, complement the meditation alcoves in the halls of the Wellness Center. Spacious group fitness rooms, outfitted with special low-lying meditation chairs, yoga mats, TVs and views of the woods, provide a gathering place for group fitness classes, which are now free on a pilot basis for the 2018-19 academic year.

The Wellness Center will also feature two gardens and a patio. At the front is the compassion garden, which, according to College Spokesperson Erin Zagursky, is completed except for the addition of a sign. Ground for the corresponding Zen garden behind the building has been cleared, but the garden itself has not been completed.

Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88, M.Ed. ’06 said the Wellness Center’s focus on the eight dimensions of wellness provides a comprehensive approach to wellbeing.

“Here, in the heart of our campus, we affirm in the most tangible way possible that personal wellness is foundational to excellence at William and Mary,” Ambler said. “Indeed, we affirm that by integrating the different dimensions of wellness — emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual — we can surely thrive as human beings.”

According to Rowe, ensuring wellness among college students is more important than ever, as the American Mental Health Association has found that a majority of college students experience anxiety and depression that affect their ability to function. Because more students have been entering college with diagnoses of this nature, the College’s role in providing supportive services must grow, Rowe said.

“The McLeod Tyler Wellness Center puts William and Mary at the leading edge of thinking about such transformations, supporting the holistic innovations of authentic excellence and mindfulness that the whole of our student life, community and staff have created,” Rowe said.

Student Assembly President Brendan Boylan ’19 thanked the donors and noted how critical the Wellness Center is to student success beyond academics.

“To say it frankly, having friends or finding your passion or even excelling in your studies is not a cure-all for mental illness,” Boylan said. “That is why the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center is such an important step in our community’s journey, not only to greater resources devoted to wellness, but to a greater understanding of mental health issues as well.”

“To say it frankly, having friends or finding your passion or even excelling in your studies is not a cure-all for mental illness,” Boylan said. “That is why the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center is such an important step in our community’s journey, not only to greater resources devoted to wellness, but to a greater understanding of mental health issues as well.”

The Wellness Center will host wellness application courses, such as Mindfulness Meditation, Bicycling for Wellness and Flourishing, which students can take pass/fail for one academic credit.

The Wellness Center also allows students to apply for positions as Wellness Ambassadors, whose duties include planning activities and staffing the front desk. Additionally, student education groups can utilize the Peer Education Hub, complete with chairs and whiteboards, which is on the first floor.

Boylan said that he believes that the Wellness Center will help students, especially new students, to ease into and tackle issues surrounding their physical or mental health as they begin or continue their college lives.

“It’s crucial to understand that wellness does not mean shying away from the challenges of life, or from taking on new endeavors that may be stressful or taxing,” Boylan said. “It does require us, however, to treat ourselves better, and to take on difficult times in a healthy way.”