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McDonald Center for Student Well-Being opens

| Tuesday, September 1, 2015

This semester, the University officially opened the Rev. James E. McDonald, C.S.C., McDonald Center for Student Well-Being in Saint Liam Hall. The facility, known as McWell for short, was endowed last year by a $10 million gift from 1979 alumnus Mark Gallogly and his wife, Lise Strickler.

Kelly Hogan Stewart, Director of the McDonald Center, said the center aims to increase the well-being of campus as a whole.

“We are prevention, not treatment,” Stewart said. “So treatment is more about putting back together what may have become fragmented, broken or fractured. Well-being is really about increasing a person’s capacity and their ability-thriving.”

Stewart said the center, housed at 204 Saint Liam Hall, hopes to positively impact the campus through the implementation of its mission and the scope of its vision. She cited “wellness enhancement” and “risk reduction” as key elements in increasing well-being for college students, who are at an imperative time in their lives in terms of learning how be well.

She said the new center’s current priority is gaining recognition on campus through pushes like engaging students with creative events and programs throughout the year.

“We’re doing things like pet love, wellness expos or a spin-off cash cab,” she said.

Beyond events, Stewart said the center will work to provide students with resources to pursue well-being.

“A truly robust health promotion department on any college campus is very connected to many resources, whether it be the academy, the community, any other departments within student affairs, so that could include a variety of departments like RecSports, the Gender Relations Center, MSPS,” Stewart said.

Moving beyond the walls of Saint Liam, well-being commissioners within the residential halls will address the wellness needs of their own dorms and promote the mission of the center, Stewart said.

“It really is our opportunity to provide services and resources directly into the residential halls,” Stewart said. “The commissioners will be the point people and engage with our department as another avenue for students to tell us what they need in their residential communities.”

Stewart said that in order for the center to be successful, students need to know how health promotion functions and works with students and other factors that affect health dynamics at Notre Dame.

“The way I explain what is health promotion is it’s really making the healthier choice the easier choice. It’s allowing people to live balanced within an imbalanced life,” Stewart said.

The McDonald Center for Student Well-Being is looking to change the way Notre Dame addresses health and in effect change how students here address health for the rest of their lives, she said.

“In the United States, our health care system and our mindset is structured to focus on the broken and then they think the absence of being broken is health,” Stewart said. “But that’s just one piece of it. High quality health and well-being is actually living a life which is filled with flourishing and thriving.”

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