Salisbury University welcomes a new director of student counseling services, Dr. Lilian Odera, who began on Feb. 12.
Odera is a licensed psychologist and received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is coming to SU from Towson University and has more than 12 years of experience in this position.
In the wake of multiple student deaths and the racist vandalism that have occurred this school year, Odera brings a new perspective and background to the now-filled position of director.
Odera is qualified for this position and has experiences with “diversity training, cultural competencies, social justice approaches, faith-based practices, quantitative research methodology, and with international, LGBTQ, and marginalized student populations,” according to Student Affairs.
SU’s counseling center, located in Guerrieri Student Union Room 263, is not only a center for counseling, but a hub for mental health awareness, education, at-risk training and workshops.
The university is one of the many colleges around the country that provide counseling services free of charge to their students.
The addition of Odera brings the number of counseling center staff up to eight people, including interns, counselors and administrative support. However, there are only three staff who are acting counselors to a student population of over 9,000.
Dr. Joseph Venosa, associate professor of history at SU, believes increasing mental health and counseling services at SU should be of high priority.
“We are experiencing like never before massive emotional and psychological problems with our students, and the counseling center is running below the minimum as far as professional guidelines state,” Venosa said.
As a professor, Venosa has witnessed firsthand how his classes and students have been impacted by the understaffed counseling center. He also pointed out that SU is one of the few universities that does not have a registered psychiatrist.
“You can look at all the schools under the University of Maryland System and you can see that SU, Coppen State and Morgan State are the only ones who do not have a registered psychiatrist on staff,” Venosa said. “Some schools have multiple, and others at have at least part-time.”
Ensuring that the campus’s mental health needs are met has become increasingly more important to students.
Tori Defelice, a senior majoring in finance, says she appreciates SU’s counseling center.
“I’m really grateful that the counseling center is there and that it is a free service,” Defelice said. “I’ve struggled with lots of anxiety, and being a senior this year has just been rough with all my upper-level classes”
However, Defelice says the center can improve its marketing and communication with students.
“I think they need to expand on their promotion that Salisbury has a counseling center. People’s responses are usually like, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know we had a counseling center.’ I’m always shocked at how many people don’t know about it,” Defelice said.
The center is open from 8:00 a.m.to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those who want to make an appointment at the counseling center are advised to call the counseling center or visit it in the Guerrieri Student Union Room 263.
Odera has yet to release a statement on her plans for improving the counseling center and what she hopes to bring to SU as the new director.
By SOFIA CARRASCO and KYRA WILKINS
Featured photo: Marshall Haas image.