By Lauren Foote
After a lengthy search, Youngstown State University has settled on Ann Jaronski to serve as director of student counseling services.
Michael Reagle, associate vice president for student success, led the search. He said the university is excited to have someone of Jaronski’s talent.
“Dr. Jaronski’s role will be to lead the way in the development of our mental health program and resources here at YSU,” Reagle said. “She will be assessing all the aspects of the program and making recommendations related to the resources necessary to effectively run a counseling center at a school like YSU.”
Jaronski is an Ohio native, who previously directed the counseling center at the University of South Florida. She sees her start here as a period of transition.
“My plan for the first couple of months is to understand YSU students,” Jaronski said. “What do YSU students want and need? What will they utilize? How do we build and implement that on campus?”
She said she has ideas from her previous experiences, but she wants to make sure they are tailored to suit the university’s needs.
With Jaronski’s hiring, the university employs two full-time clinicians. Jaronski said that according to national guidelines, we should have at least six.
“My previous institution had over 45,000 students, and University of Florida had 50,000 students, so I have worked at big places,” Jaronski said. “These schools had over 20 staff, and the University of Florida had over 40 staff members.”
She said she wants to hire a new counselor over the next year, but change is not going to happen overnight and there are other concerns for her to address.
“These people are more than just bodies,” Jaronski said. “I know that we are understaffed, but again, I do not want to build something that would not be helpful. We do not have enough offices, space and funding for more people. I want to make this a thoughtful process, not just hire a bunch of people.”
She said clinical services are not the only component of a counseling center. They also need to increase outreach and consultation services, which they can do now without adding much staff.
“I am very big on intervention,” Jaronski said. “I want it to be impactful and meaningful, teaching people how to change behavior … to take away the stigma from public health. I want us to be reachable. We don’t bite; we are not scary; we are not unknown.”
She said her cautious approach to expanding the counseling center comes from a desire to create a sustainable model.
“We can hire people,” Jaronski said. “But I want to make sure that what we develop can stay. I don’t want to build something one semester and because of budget or state cuts we lose it all.”
Anne Lally, previously the university’s only licensed clinician, said the tradition is going well.