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March 2, 2022

Amid student deaths, WPI names inaugural director of new wellness center

Photo | Courtesy of WPI Paula Fitzpatrick, director of WPI's Center for Well-Being

Worcester Polytechnic Institute named Paula Fitzpatrick, an Assumption University dean, as its first-ever director of the new Center for Well-Being.

The Center for Well-Being launched in early 2022, as the college was reeling from seven student deaths, at least three by suicide, in less than a year. The new center takes a holistic approach to wellness, focusing on work-life balance for students.

Fitzpatrick was previously the dean of Assumption University’s D’Amour College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Worcester, according to the press release from WPI. She is also a professor of psychology and a certified mindfulness meditation teacher.

Fitzpatrick began her role at WPI on Monday. She will work with a team to implement recommendations developed by the Mental Health and Well-Being Task Force, which convened last fall to assess mental health needs at the college in the wake of the fourth student death.

“I am impressed with and excited by the bold step WPI is taking in creating this center,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “It holds great promise for weaving wellness into the educational and work experience across all of WPI.”

In January, WPI notified its community of two more student deaths, one by suicide. 

The college is also undergoing leadership change, as its president of eight years, Laurie Leshin, announced in January she would leave for a position at NASA. The WPI board is searching for a replacement while Provost Winston Oluwole Soboyejo will fill as interim president after Leshin's departure.

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