The University of West Georgia (UWG) recently announced its very first Chief Wellness Officer (CWO).
UWG is one of a select few universities in the country with a CWO. The new role stems from a commitment to holistic health and integrated wellness as part of UWG’s new strategic plan.
Bridgette Stewart, the CWO, will serve students, employees and the community. Her focus is on comprehensive wellness, which is more important than ever in today’s higher education environment.
“The CWO provides an elevated role of advocacy for UWG’s University Recreation,” said Stewart. “The professionals in University Recreation do amazing work serving the fitness and wellness needs of our student and employee populations. My role will connect the dots within all our populations that serve our campus and community. For example, how does University Recreation work collaboratively with our Counseling Center when exercise is recommended as a means to reduce anxiety and depression? I will bring numerous entities together to the same table to discuss not individual wellness but how we view wellness holistically for students and employees. We cannot function at our full capacity until we remove the silos and repeated work.”
EXTRA CREDIT: To best help new generations and those that will follow, colleges and universities are reimagining their student health centers.
UWG’s focus is on holistic integrative wellness that extends across the institution and into the community. The hope is the new leadership role will make the connection between UWG’s people and resources.
“If the last two years taught us anything, it’s that wellness is the glue that holds together our lives and communities,” said Brendan Kelly, the president of UWG. “The CWO role is focused on enhancing and integrating existing university and community wellness resources so we are able to nurture a stronger university community and a richer quality of life for our employees, students and members of the community to which we are in service.”
Why should other campuses consider having their own CWO?
For UWG, comprehensive wellness — including physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social and occupational — is increasingly important to:
- Prioritize for a healthy campus.
- Enrich the lives and performance of students, faculty, staff and the community.
“Universities are also seeing an increased demand for wellness services due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kelly. “For us to curate a first-choice, 21st-century university, we need to elevate the role wellness plays in the lives of all our constituents.”