University of South Florida

Hundreds gather as The WELL officially opens to all USF Health students

With a concerted pull of the drape hiding the sign, the formal name of the USF Health student services center was unveiled: The WELL.

Several hundred staff, faculty and students from throughout USF Health gathered Jan. 16 to learn the Center’s new name and to help officially open what is now the entry point for every new USF Health student, the hub for services critical to student success, a central place for forming new and lasting collaborative inter-professional and team-focused relationships, and a place to relax between all of those endeavors.


Headlining the day was Joe Ford, assistant vice president for USF Health Shared Student Services, who shared with everyone the journey that was taken to make this student-centered facility a reality and then thanked and recognized the many people who carried it through.

“We asked these dedicated professionals and teams to think outside the box and to dream big and not be encumbered by history, precedent, personality and old ways of doing,” Ford said.

“We encouraged them to shape the future of student services at Health. We celebrate today because of your tireless energy, passion for this program, and creative vision for what an old, very dated medical clinic could become. We are giving birth today and it was worth every labor pain we experienced together during delivery. Just look at this beautiful baby. We turned an ugly duckling into a swan. It is simply amazing.”

“Fostering an inter-professional collaborative learning environment; strengthening the student-centered culture and optimizing student success; providing high-quality, technology-enabled and timely delivered services and programs; building community; and promoting USF Health, serve as the cornerstones for this beautifully renovated center.” — Joe Ford

Joining in the celebration were deans, administrators and students from all four USF Health colleges, schools and programs, members of the USF Board of Trustees, and Provosts, as well as administrators of support services from across USF.

“This collaborative space is truly a labor of love,” said Donna J. Petersen, ScD, MHS, CPH, interim senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the USF College of Public Health. “While there were some challenges, the focus was always on the students. It is at the hub of USF Health, at the heart of Health. Every student will begin their education journey here and become part of USF Health and our community.”


“We started with our students to create an environment that not only meets their needs but is also a place for them to come together.” — Dr. Donna Petersen

One by one, student leaders from every facet of USF Health shared what such a student-centric center would mean for the entire USF Health community – Kristin Steffen from the College of Public Health, Kumar Jairamdas from the College of Nursing, Kelley Kinsella from the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Matthew Schneller from the College of Pharmacy, Lauren Terpak from the Morsani College of Medicine, and Keirsten Reilly from the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Then, with a snip of large gold scissors, a green ribbon was cut, signifying a new era for USF Health students. 

The WELL – standing for Wellness, Engagement, Leadership and Learning – was named following a contest that drew more than 200 entries and reflects the mission of USF Health, as well as serves as a metaphor: a central resource where a community can gather. The WELL is the creation of Lynne Arric, EdD, director of Student Services for the USF Health College of Pharmacy.


Designed with input from students, faculty and staff as a way to enhance services the USF Health colleges and schools currently do for students, The WELL integrate support for USF Health students in one place. The colleges occupy the main sections of the Center but are connected in a cohesive way, providing a sense of unity in the shared space.

In addition to student affairs, financial aid, and registrar services, the Center also includes computer support, USF Health Service Corps, and multiple spaces for students to meet and study, from open lounges and a computer bar to enclosed conference rooms and quiet study spaces. More than 50 staff members fill offices in this first phase of the project.

The space not only serves as a central place for students, but also brings staff together to share ideas, collaborate and work in teams.

USF Health is the Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the Doctors of USF Health. In total, USF Health enrolls more than 5,400 students, nearly 12 percent of the USF System student body.

The entire event began with an amazing rendition of Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E Minor performed by the USF Health Orchestra, with violin soloist Samson Lu, fourth-year medical student, and conductor Dr. Frazier Stevenson, associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education.



USF Health students from left are Keirsten Reilly from the School of Biomedical Sciences, Kelley Kinsella from the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, Kumar Jairamdas from the College of Nursing, Lauren Terpak from the Morsani College of Medicine, Matthew Schneller from the College of Pharmacy, Kristin Steffen from the College of Public Health, with USF Health Senior Vice President Dr. Donna Petersen.


The official cut was made, from left: Keirsten Reilly, Dr. William Quillen, Kelley Kinsella, Dr. Harry van Loveren, Kumar Jairamdas, Dr. Michael Barber, Lauren Terpak, Dr. Kevin Sneed, Matthew Schneller, Kristin Steffen, Dr. Donna Petersen, and Dr. Dianne Morrison-Beedy.




Story by Sarah Worth, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications.

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