Administrators address Round Rock counseling concerns

News Reporter

The university president and provost weighed in on a recurring concern about counseling services at the Round Rock Campus during a Faculty Senate meeting Sept. 4.

President Denise Trauth highlighted recent efforts to further accommodate the increasing enrollment at the Round Rock Campus, including new food services and the addition of a master’s program in nursing that began this semester. The increase in population has spurred the construction of a clinical facility, which Trauth said will double as an outpost to the San Marcos campus’ Student Health Center. However, questions and concerns of faculty senators at the meeting still centered on the lack of a formal counseling center at the Round Rock Campus.

Barbara Covington, faculty senator and associate professor at the St. David’s School of Nursing, said there is a lack of services offered in Round Rock, most pertinently a dedicated counseling center. Covington said at last week’s meeting the level of stress in the nursing program is high and therefore presents a need for professional counseling advisors.

“The nurse practitioners (who will be working at the clinic) are not mental health counselors,” Covington said. “The students (at the Round Rock Campus) are not receiving the same services as the students (at Texas State).”

Provost Eugene Bourgeois said the Round Rock Campus does not have the “full suite of services” offered at the San Marcos campus, and administrators are focusing on the health clinic for now.

Trauth said with the restriction of resources, all that can be done is to wait in regards to the prospect of a counseling center.

“Joanne Smith (vice president for Student Affairs) now knows about this issue, and there’s no one who cares more about students than she does,” Trauth said. “The economies of scale are such that bringing the full range of services offered here to Round Rock is not possible at this time.”

Edna Rehbein, director of the Round Rock Campus, said the health clinic was originally set up as a place where nurse practitioners could gain experience. She said this method would develop into a more encompassing program later on.
Covington said she sees a conflict of interest in who will be administering the health services or counseling.

“(The nurse practitioners) are not in the field of mental health or counseling,” Covington said. “And the ones involved there that are faculty members cannot cross that line and do counseling for students that they are teaching.”

Covington said there are alternative routes that could be taken to alleviate some of the issues until full services can be offered at the Round Rock Campus. She said telecommunications and online capabilities could support health and counseling sessions.

Trauth said the Faculty Senate’s discussion on the issue has captured the attention of the Division of Student Affairs and is not being taken lightly.

“What I don’t want to do is over-promise,” Trauth said. “I also don’t want to presume decisions to be made by (Student Affairs).”