Education meets Health: University of Windsor and Windsor-Essex Health Unit’s Strategic Alliance
(Photo by: University of Windsor, official Facebook Page)
The University of Windsor and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) announce a campus partnership.
The strategic alliance will bring together their expertise in education and health to improve the health of the local community.
The alliance, which kicked off in 2022, is a landmark partnership that is expected to have an impact on the health and well-being of Windsor students and community members.
“It is exciting to be able to co-locate and explore joint programming opportunities with WECHU,” said the University of Windsor President and Vice-Chancellor Robert Gordon. “This strategic partnership will bring together the strengths of both institutions to work collaboratively for the benefit of our students and the community,” added Dr. Gordon.
The plan includes the retrofit of the existing Residence Hall-West building into office space for WECHU. This residential building was earlier named Macdonald Hall after Sir John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada. Amidst the growing anger of the community and students against Macdonald due to his role in building residential schools, the building was renamed in 2021. Since then, it has been unoccupied and there were speculations of its demolition.
“It is better to use the existing building into something meaningful instead of demolishing it. The partnership with WECHU will bring significant use to the Residence Hall-West building,” said Diane Rawlings, Department Head of Residence Services.
The modernization of the building is expected to commence early this spring, with the construction planning and design phase already underway. The community will learn more information about the vision for academic and research opportunities by fall 2023.
“The building had reached the end of its useful life as a student residence facility – it was built in the late 1960s as a traditional (dormitory-style) student residence, for which there is not the same demand in today’s student housing environment. We felt that a new residence with semi-private bathrooms and a 250+ seat dining hall would better serve our campus community than a renovated Residence Hall West. Considering the building is in great structural condition and keeping environmental sustainability in mind, re-purposing the existing space seemed to be the most appropriate approach,” said Charlie Simpkins, the Director of Strategic Initiatives & Business Enterprise at the university and is integrally involved with this business model. (Photo: Plan for the new residence building)
“The intent is to incorporate teaching and research into the partnership wherever possible, which could include academic programming related to the field of public health, cooperative education opportunities, and research collaborations both at the graduate and undergraduate levels.”
Simpkins said The Provost and VPRI will be working with the entire campus, including students, to consult on ways to make the partnership as meaningful as possible for our campus community
The partnership will allow the University of Windsor to provide its students with access to health professionals and resources from the WECHU. This will enable students to learn more about public health and health promotion and gain practical experience in working with the local community. At the same time, the WECHU will be able to tap into the latest research and expertise from the university to develop innovative programs and initiatives to promote health and wellness.
One of the biggest benefits for students is that the newly renovated building will be the new home of the University’s Student Counselling Services office, extending counseling capacity in a beautiful, private, and welcoming space. In addition, students, especially those who live on campus, will now have convenient access to the numerous services that WECHU provides in the event they choose to do so.
“I am an international student and I live on campus. Having a healthcare facility on campus will help me access the facilities and better resources more conveniently. I am also looking forward to the mental health department as in my opinion, we need better resources to help with serious mental health issues,” said Yajur Chaturvedi, a 3rd year engineering student.
“We hope to offer some joint programming for students in areas such as mental health and wellness and new experiential learning opportunities,” said Simpkins.
WECHU provides services to everyone in Windsor-Essex.
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