Virginia Tech named one of the healthiest campuses among U.S. colleges and universities
Virginia Tech received the 2022 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award and is recognized as one of the healthiest college campuses in the nation. In its sixth year, the award celebrates U.S. colleges and universities that provide access to quality health care, serve students’ physical health, and give equal priority and investment to mental health.
This year’s recipients represent a range of campuses that operate within different contexts and challenges. Together they demonstrate how institutions of all sizes and types can create healthy communities that allow every student the opportunity to thrive and succeed.
Virginia Tech joins four other colleges and universities in receiving the Healthy Campus Award: Auburn University, Barstow Community College, Stevens Institute of Technology, and the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg campus.
"At Virginia Tech, we endeavor to see well-being emphasized in every aspect of the student life experience. We are extremely proud of and are committed to continuing the work taking place across campus to support our students' physical and mental health," said Frank Shushok Jr., vice president for student affairs. "We’re also especially excited to launch the complete transformation of our housing model this fall through our Residential Well-being initiative that places well-being, inclusion, and belonging at the forefront of the residential experience."
Students enrolled at colleges and universities that prioritize well-being often find that the programs and services provided to them are part of the fabric of the campus community.
“It is quite an honor for Virginia Tech to receive the Active Minds Healthy Campus Award, which places value on an institutional commitment to student well-being, with a focus on proactive work around mental health," said Chris Wise, assistant vice president for student affairs. "This award not only highlights the work of our well-being units on campus, it also highlights a deep commitment from campus partners in student affairs, academic affairs, Office for Inclusion and Diversity, student organizations, and many others to support the strategic priority of well-being and student success.”
The well-being of all students is a priority for Virginia Tech, and it shows. The review panel for the Healthy Campus Award cited the following innovative practices in particular:
- Commitment to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions: The Virginia Tech Mental Health Initiatives Task Force has worked to implement recommendations supporting mental health on campus. The outcome includes a collective, focused approach to well-being to ensure a sustainable system to unite mental health efforts across campus.
- Proactively addressing systemic injustices: Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community and the Student Affairs Anti-Racism Commitment, along with InclusiveVT Project 2022, are fundamental to the university’s ongoing efforts to increase access, inclusion, and diversity within its community and highlight the institution’s individual and collective commitment to working to eliminate bias and discrimination, increase understanding of these issues, and acknowledge the behaviors and structures that perpetuate inequality.
- Measuring results and sharing progress to continuously motivate, guide, and focus action: Virginia Tech takes the evaluation of health and wellness data seriously and is committed to using the evaluations to make informed decisions that lead to positive results. Assessment and results from dissemination are done on a departmental, divisional, and institutional level throughout the year and allow the university to better understand general well-being on campus as well as the mental and emotional health of students.
“Virginia Tech stands out because of their collective well-being-focused approach to ensure a sustainable system uniting mental health efforts on campus,” said Alison Malmon, founder and executive director of Active Minds. “Virginia Tech is a model for prioritizing mental health amongst students and combating this concern by facilitating proactive resources on campus.”
While the university invests heavily in deepening and expanding its mental health support services (as highlighted by its No. 1 ranking by The Princeton Review), Shushok said Virginia Tech is also doubling down on efforts to invite students to embrace a related but much broader concept of well-being.
"With education and intention, all of us have tremendous influence over our well-being, and when we do this well, our graduates take good care of themselves and others around them," Shushok said.
The Healthy Campus Award involves an extensive application process as well as multiple endorsements. Each applicant is assessed across 10 criteria, with winners chosen by a panel of students, prominent researchers, and experts in health and higher education.