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2024 Power 100: Paula Fitzpatrick

A woman with long brown hair stands in front of a colorful wall. Photo | Courtesy of Worcester Polytechnic Institute Paula Fitzpatrick, director of the Center for Well-Being at Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Paula Fitzpatrick Title Director of the Center for Well-Being Company Worcester Polytechnic Institute Employees at the center 22 (2 full-time, 20 student workers) Residence Jefferson neighborhood, in Holden College University of Connecticut Read all the Power 100 profiles here
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Paula Fitzpatrick plays a vital role in helping Worcester Polytechnic Institute create a culture of health and well-being – something the prestigious technological university grappled with in the wake of seven student deaths in less than a year, nearly all of them suspected to be suicides.

WPI launched the center in early 2022, recruiting the former Assumption University professor Fitzpatrick to lead holistic wellness programs for its student body.

With a student body of about 7,000 full- and part-time undergraduates and graduates from all over the world, a diverse wellness approach is in order. That is something Fitzpatrick’s team of two staff and 20 student workers have honed.

Fitzpatrick was involved in the design and construction oversight of the center, which opened its doors in January 2023, and helped launch a website and social media and marketing efforts. Today, the center offers a robust list of wellness outlets such as reiki, mindfulness meditation classes, peer coaching, and spaces for interfaith prayer and rest. Fitzpatrick has helped design and received approval for well-being courses that students may take for academic credit. Perhaps most crucially, Fitzpatrick launched Kognito, an online simulation required of all new students and hires as of the 2023-2024 academic year, designed to teach people how to recognize those in distress, how to talk to them, and connect them with mental health services.

Fitzpatrick was a tenured professor at Assumption, having joined the university in 1996, and later chaired the psychology department. She left for WPI because the role, she said, combines her passions for education, well-being, higher education administration, and research.

Read all the Power 100 profiles here.

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