UC Riverside has announced that a new Student Health and Counseling Center will be established, allowing for easier access to health and wellness services at one location. This project will see a modernization in students accessibility for these services. Construction of the planned two story building began in the week of Feb. 14, and a special ceremony was held on Feb. 18 in celebration.

The facility itself will be a 39,450-square-foot building, of which 27,900 square feet will be utilized to house Student Health Services, The Well and Counseling and Psychological Services. It will be located on the western portion of Parking Lot 21, south of Linden Street, between Aberdeen Drive and Pentland Way. Construction will take over a year with the center opening to students by May 2023. Building it in the northwest end of campus will grant greater accessibility to student residents in the recently built Dundee Residence Hall and North District apartments, as well as commuters, with parking available nearby. This project will serve as a major improvement for health wellness on campus as all three services are currently located in one aged building, half of the overall size of the new planned facility. 

Denise Woods, Associate Vice Chancellor of Health, Wellbeing and Safety, noted, “The new building will improve health, counseling and wellness services on campus by offering an integrated and holistic space with increased medical and mental health providers on staff.”

As described by Woods, the center will not only offer counseling services and primary care but will also host a number of workshops and seminars for students. She hopes for Highlanders to be able to connect with one another better through the center.  

The Student Health Services space will include resources for students such as exam rooms, an urgent care center, a pharmacy, a full-service laboratory, a radiology office and an ambulance loading area. In addition, the facility will have spaces for Counseling and Psychological Services, for both individual appointments and for group therapy, and for The Well, the student health and educational wellness program. Jacqueline Norman, a campus architect, described, “The area is designed to offer privacy and comfort while also facilitating group discussions.”

Although planning for the center began prior to the pandemic, many COVID-19 related measures and services will be particularly focused on during construction and operation, including COVID-19 protocols, testing and other services that students utilized during the pandemic. Norman detailed how the project will include “adequate separation and spacing, room to line up outdoors and flexibility for how people enter and leave.” 

Woods explained how building the center benefits the university in the pursuit of integrating wellness into student life on campus. “We just want to make sure students feel supported here on campus, that they’re able to successfully maintain and retain their education, and graduate and move on successfully.” 

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox expressed his belief that universities are ultimately about people, including the faculty and staff who serve students. “We have a responsibility to help them help students with their well-being. That’s what this building symbolizes.”