Nov 07, 2019
Financial Realities, Refocus on Purpose Drive HACC’s Clinical Mental Health Decision
HARRISBURG, Pa. – HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, will save approximately $2.4 million through salaries and benefits with the elimination of 20 faculty counselor positions in October 2020.
The majority of the services provided by these faculty counselors were unrelated to clinical mental health counseling. The academic support services they currently provide will be reassigned to other positions as part of the College’s reorganization.
HACC faculty counselors are required to have at least a master’s degree. Of the 20 faculty counselors who are being eliminated, eight are designated wellness counselors who were assigned to offer short-term clinical mental health counseling sessions for students in need. All eight wellness counselors have an educational background in counseling; counselor education; guidance and counseling; or psychology.
HACC made the decision to eliminate these positions after careful consideration of financial resources and duplicative services. Restructuring in student affairs has been under discussion for several years. The College also reviewed the demand for clinical mental health counseling services over the previous four years to assess the potential for the deans of students and their designees to respond to the small number of requests for clinical mental health counseling services collegewide.
HACC’s purpose is to provide educational supports that help our students succeed academically and not replicate critical services already available in our communities.
“As with many organizational changes – especially one that involves personnel – we expect people to voice concerns,” said HACC President John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D. “These decisions were not made lightly, and we are listening closely to feedback from students, employees and other stakeholders as we make this transition and explore improved mental health counseling options for our students.”
The system that was implemented in September 2019 is working well. A few HACC students have expressed concerns about the change in clinical mental health counseling. A student who seeks clinical mental health counseling is referred to their campus dean of students. The deans of student affairs are trained on the protocols to help students in crisis and make external referrals. Each dean works with the student who comes to them and makes an appropriate referral based on that student’s needs and the options available in their local community.
Over the last year, HACC has held numerous open forums; conducted many meetings with students, employees and supporters of the College; and solicited comments through online forms and surveys to inform its reorganization.
While HACC no longer provides clinical mental health counseling, making sure students are still handled with compassion and care is at the core of the College’s decision-making.
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is the first and largest of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges. HACC offers approximately 100 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 19,000 students. Also, the College serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit hacc.edu. Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), follow us on Instagram (@HACC_edu), like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/HACC64) and use #HACCNews.