University System of Georgia Launches Mental Health Task Force

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

University System of Georgia (USG) Chancellor Steve Wrigley appointed a Mental Health Task Force to address the growing concern of mental health challenges on campuses.

It will be co-chaired by Albany State University President Marion Fedrick and Valdosta State University President Richard Carvajal and is composed of representatives from the university system, state agencies, mental health organizations and the medical field.

“Incidents of mental health challenges are too common on campuses across the country and in the university system,” Wrigley said. “In a recent survey by the American Council on Education, 80 percent of the 1,700 college and university presidents participating said mental health is now a greater priority on campus than it was just three years ago.

“I am charging task force members to understand the scope of the issues and to review programs, policies and best practices within USG as well as campuses around the country. Collaboration among USG institutions, along with state and local agencies and community stakeholders is critical to ensuring all resources and partnerships are on the table. The task force will provide recommendations to the Board of Regents and myself at the end of its review.”

Members of the task force include the following:

Richard Carvajal, Ph.D., president, Valdosta State University

Marion Fedrick, president, Albany State University

Sinet Adous, international affairs major, vice president of external affairs, Student Government Association, Georgia Institute of Technology

Jacqueline Caskey-James, LPC, director, Student Counseling and Outreach Services, Fort Valley State University

Quadre Curry-Wilkerson, visual and performing arts major, president, Student Government Association, Albany State University

Robert Dollinger, M.D., director, Student Health Services, Augusta University

Shanta Dube, Ph.D., associate professor, School of Public Health, Georgia State University

Tomas Jimenez, senior associate provost for student affairs and dean of students; Georgia Gwinnett College

Teresa Johnston, LPC, executive director and assistant dean, Center for Young Addiction and Recovery, Kennesaw State University

Linda Kaspar, executive director, University Housing, University of Georgia

Autumn A. Lucas, certified nurse practitioner, Middle Georgia State University Health Clinic

Dante McKay, J.D., director, Office of Children, Young Adults and Family; Division of Behavioral Health

Linda Osborne-Smith, deputy commissioner, Technical College System of Georgia

Chip Reese, Ed.D., associate vice president, Student Affairs, Columbus State University

“As a president of an institution, my first and foremost concern is the welfare of our campus community, including students, faculty and staff,” Carvajal said. “I’m honored to be asked to team with President Fedrick on this vitally important initiative and look forward to working with the other task force members to arrive at clear, implementable solutions.”

“The stigma and misunderstanding around mental health have substantially impacted college campuses across the nation affecting student success and faculty and staff productivity,” Fedrick said. “I applaud the University System of Georgia for advancing a proactive approach in addressing the issues, both known and unknown. I look forward to collaborating with the task force to facilitate awareness, support and resources for a complex issue facing our universities.”

The first task force meeting will be announced at a later date.