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Seton Hall University

Focusing on the Eight Dimensions of Wellness in Student Services  

Center for Academic Success sharing gratitude (Spiritual Dimension)

Center for Academic Success sharing gratitude (Spiritual Dimension).

The Division of Student Services at Seton Hall embraces the vision of the University as a home for the mind, heart, and spirit, and our goal is student success. The Division comprises five main areas- Academic Success, Campus Inclusion & Community, Engagement and Business Affairs, Public Safety & Security, and Student Wellness & Support. These areas provide programs and services that help to enrich the student experience and support students' ability to succeed at Seton Hall and beyond. 

Goal 4 of the University Strategic Plan aims to further cultivate and nurture a trusting and collaborative Seton Hall community that educates and empowers all its members to advance equity, inclusion, and social justice on campus and in the wider world. The grounding principles of this goal seek to create and cultivate partnerships, improve transparency and communication, and strive for a more inclusive and just community. Goal 4 also aims to increase a sense of belonging and inclusion for faculty, staff, and students with efforts to recruit and retain qualified staff and administrators from diverse backgrounds. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, higher education administrators across the nation faced unprecedented staffing challenges in recruiting and retaining talented employees for many open positions, specifically in student affairs. In a 2022 report, NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) shared that these challenges were a result of high "levels of stress, burn-out and exhaustion" among student affairs professionals and a "widening scope of responsibilities... prompted by cumulative shifts and expectations in higher education" and throughout society. 

NASPA also notes, "The [student affairs] profession must constantly reassess program offerings, services, and staffing to keep up with the dynamic and growing list of student needs, establish strong connections with students, and ensure student success and degree completion."

To provide members with professional development opportunities and prioritize teamwork, cooperation, and community within Student Services, the Division launched an eight-part series focused on the Eight Dimensions of Wellness this academic year (the idea was developed by colleagues at Creighton University). According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration), wellness comprises eight mutually co-dependent dimensions: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual. When prioritized, well-rounded, and balanced, these eight dimensions can provide a "holistic harmony" that positively affects one's health, well-being, and quality of life (SAMHSA, 2022). 

Senior divisional leadership led monthly meetings for each dimension, with additional team members who volunteered to facilitate and plan. Each session consisted of informative presentations, meaningful discussions, and interactive team-building activities. 

Assistant Vice President and Dean of Campus Inclusion & Community Majid Whitney shared, "The eight dimensions of wellness theme for Student Services' divisional meetings has been a profound success. In our efforts to create a premier student experience so that students can become the best versions of themselves, the dimensions constantly remind us that we as administrators can only succeed in this endeavor by taking the best care of ourselves and each other." Dean Whitney led the intellectual dimension of wellness on October 7, where divisional members learned ways to be open to new ideas and think critically. Tips to boost intellectual wellness include reading, creativity, exercise, social interactions, eating well, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and meditating.  

Physical Dimension

Professor Lisa Delli Santi sharing nutrition education (Physical Dimension).

On December 9, Karen Van Norman, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, introduced an informative presentation on the financial dimension from Professor Elven Riley, who shared tips on financial planning, savings, and managing expenses. On January 6, Vaughn Calhoun, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President and Dean of the Center for Academic Success, coordinated several stations to highlight physical wellness. ROTC demonstrated how members could perform desk exercises during breaks. Gourmet Dining Services offered a smoothie station that incorporated healthy fruits and vegetables. Adjunct Professor Lisa Delli Santi shared nutrition education and guidelines on preparing a balanced meal. Brandon Larmore, Director of RISE, facilitated progressive relaxation techniques. Emma Murphy, Assistant Director of Student Leadership, provided members with opportunities to solidify New Year's intentions and resolutions. 

Emotional Dimension

Words of appreciation for colleagues (Emotional Dimension).

On February 9, Winston Roberts, Assistant Vice President, led the Division on the emotional wellness dimension, which encompasses optimism, self-esteem, self-acceptance, and the ability to share feelings. Several stations were offered to focus on this dimension, including meeting Mochi, a 20-pound Tibetan Terrier from Creature Comfort Pet Therapy. A station was dedicated to writing words of appreciation for specific departments and colleagues. RISE Program Coordinator, Khazema Rauf, led a mindfulness and meditation exercise focused on breathwork. 

Dean Roberts added, "The wellness series [continues to be] a huge success. I think it really connected our Division and gave life to the idea that while we care about our students' wellness, it is also important to take care of ourselves. You cannot pour from an empty cup. I also enjoyed seeing different areas work together towards a goal that we all experienced."

Associate Vice President and Director of Public Safety and Security Sergio Oliva shared, "The eight dimensions of wellness offer a comprehensive approach to maintaining physical and mental health, which is truly admirable---bringing it all together nicely. Its goal of providing a balanced model for achieving holistic well-being was well received at each divisional meeting." Director Oliva will lead the occupational dimension of the wellness meeting on March 3. 

Director of Information Systems Andrew Minegar shared, "Using the 8 Dimensions of Wellness as a framework expanded the purpose of our divisional meetings to something more than professional development. The series, each part planned by teams of Student Services colleagues, allowed space for unexpected demonstrations of leadership, creativity, and collaboration beyond our departmental roles. It was a refreshing and valuable experience." To celebrate Earth Day, Director Minegar will lead the environmental dimension of the wellness meeting in April. 

For information or questions regarding the eight dimensions of wellness initiative or the Division of Student Services, visit the website or email [email protected]

Categories: Campus Life, Health and Medicine