Section: News

Holly Baker joins Counseling Center as associate director

Holly Baker, the new associate director at the Cox Health and Counseling Center, began work this week. Baker was hired at the end of last semester following a lengthy process of review led by Director Chris Smith, which marked the first time the Center has been fully staffed this academic year. 

Baker, a licensed clinical counselor who previously worked at the Mansfield office of Providers for Healthy Living, will act both as a leader of the Counseling Center and as a counselor taking student appointments. According to Smith, the first semester in such a role generally involves becoming acquainted with the environment of the College.

“I want her to use this semester to really understand Kenyon as a college and to understand our Health and Counseling Center,” Smith said. “Not just counseling services, but Health and Counseling, because there’s a lot that happens on the first floor that can positively impact students on the second floor.”

Though Smith emphasized that Baker’s first semester at Kenyon will be a period of transition and acclimation, he explained that her arrival will also have an immediate impact on the other counselors at the Health and Counseling Center and to whom they report.

“[During the hiring process] all of [the counselors] have been technically reporting to me” Smith said, “Now we have someone who is a counselor who can help them get into some of the details that my purview as a public health person just won’t allow me, nor should I be involved in.”

Having both clinical and administrative duties at the Health and Counseling Center, Baker is currently working with a caseload of 20 students per week, 10 less than the 30 students seen weekly by full-time counselors. Smith noted that this would allow “10 hours of [Baker’s] week to be primarily dedicated to leading our team, to giving them the supervision they need to provide the greatest care possible for Kenyon students.”

Baker’s appointment comes at a tumultuous time for the Counseling Center and the climate of mental health on campus. For Smith, one of the goals of Baker’s appointment is to foster a greater connection between the Center and the rest of campus.

“One of the first things we did is have her start meeting with other campus partners,” Smith said “[She] met with [the Center for] Global Engagement, athletics and [the Office of] Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”

Among the first challenges that the Center seeks to address under Baker’s guidance is ensuring that there are fewer missed appointments.

“In the months since Send Silence Packing, we had a no-show rate of 25 percent,” Smith said. “We literally had days where some of our counselors sat up here all day and didn’t see a single student, because none of their scheduled appointments showed up.”

Despite these challenges, Smith remains optimistic. He hopes that Baker’s addition to the Center’s staff will provide further opportunities for improvement of the health resources available on campus.

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