New positions in the Laurie Hamre Center for Health and Wellness

New positions in the Laurie Hamre Center for Health and Wellness

Rose Giblin-Vance, Staff Writer

Since the start of the 2020-21 academic year, the Laurie Hamre Center for Health and Wellness has announced two new positions aimed at offering more inclusive and equitable care: a BIPOC support coordinator and an underrepresented student specialist.
In a newsletter, they described the importance of these new positions. 

“While we have multiple counselors who identify as people of color, it became clear through student feedback that more visibility and systemic commitment to BIPOC student mental health was needed,” the newsletter said. “Since the summer of 2020, we have been developing a counseling staffing structure to better support the needs of BIPOC students and students with other underrepresented identities.” 

Last November, Dana Suttles was promoted to the role of BIPOC support coordinator. The recent newsletter described her new role. 

“This role will allow for more flexibility and time allocated to initiatives that are focused on the mental health needs of BIPOC students,” she wrote. “It will also allow me to collaborate more intentionally with other departments and student orgs for the purpose of supporting initiatives designed to address and support student mental health.” 

Along with Suttles’ new role, Macalester is searching for a mental health counselor to fill the position of underrepresented student specialist. 

In the hiring process, the Hamre center formed a committee of faculty, a student from International Student programming Jessica Wenyang Ding, Hamre Center staff and the Dean of the Department of Multicultural Life (DML) Marjorie Trueblood.
Trueblood said that the hiring committee wrote the description for this position with the goal of attracting a diverse group of applicants.

“We tried…  asking intentional questions, such as what has their commitment to supporting underrepresented students looked like?” Trueblood said. “Not just BIPOC, but international students, first generation students and our low-income populations.” 

“That is our hope, that we can increase accessibility, increase our sense of belonging for our students, increase the de-stigmatization of seeking mental health support for different communities,” she said. 

Director of Counseling Liz Schneider-Bateman discussed how she and her colleagues picked candidates ahead of student interviews, and what the search process looked like from her perspective. 

According to Schneider-Bateman, the new position was published on Macalester’s website and then presented to organizations that focus on BIPOC identified professionals or LGBT identified professionals in hopes of finding more applicants. Then, there was a candidate screening with two rounds of interviews before three candidates were chosen for a campus visit. Now they are collecting feedback from students, faculty, counseling staff, the Hamre staff, and the Dean of the DML, who all interviewed candidates. 

Ding ’22 noted her interest in psychology led her to accept the role of hiring committee member when offered the position through her job at the International Student Programs.

“I hope whoever gets this position… [meets] the needs of underrepresented students,” she said. “Not only BIPOC, international students, LGBTQ+, first generation college students, but also other groups who are underrepresented in other ways, people that experience adversity.” 

With these goals in mind, the hiring committee hopes to soon find a candidate who not only is the right fit for the school, but also can listen to and interact well with students of underrepresented identities in order to reduce existing barriers to counseling and other types of mental health care.