Keeping Student Healthy through the Support of Grants

Wendy Schuh, director of Student Health Services

Student Health Services is a valuable resource on the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus—but the department’s work to keep students healthy and in class learning could not be completed without the utilization of external funds such as grants. Wendy Schuh, director of Student Health Services, has been instrumental in seeking out grants totaling more than a million dollars to fund Student Health Services initiatives so that student fees can remain low while students receive the best care and information possible.

For Wendy, this began when she was project coordinator for a $755,000 National Institute of Health (NIH) grant awarded to Minnesota State Mankato during the three-year period from 2006-2009. The grant allowed the university to reach out to students about alcohol use through social norms marketing using positive statistics. Wendy also wrote and received a NCAA CHOICES grant in combination with the Athletic Department for $30,000 over three years (2009-2011). This grant, like the NIH grant, focused on social norms marketing. Information was given during sporting events about what sports fans are doing well in terms of alcohol consumption. Both grants aided in providing the University’s student population information about alcohol consumption in a positive manner.

Wendy took on the Interim Director for Student Health Services role in 2010 and became the permanent Director in 2011. She has continued to seek out grants that will help the students here at Minnesota State Mankato. In 2012, the University received a Statewide Health Improvement Project (SHIP) grant from Blue Earth County for $16,000 to assist in developing and implementing a Tobacco-Free Policy on campus. Also, an $11,000 grant from the American Lung Association helped pay for a part-time Tobacco Health Educator and supplies/signage during the 2015-2016 academic year. Thanks in part to those grants, tobacco use has decreased by 64 percent among students in the past 10 years (2004-2014).

Most recently, the Minnesota Department of Human Services awarded the University a five-year (2015-2019) grant aimed at preventing underage drinking among persons 18-20 and marijuana use among persons 18-25 totaling approximately $600,000. This initiative focuses on building a campus and community coalition, administering a needs assessment and identifying meaningful and changeable variables to prevent underage drinking and marijuana use.

Student Health Services is also able to provide assistance to students in need of health insurance. Through a more than decade-long partnership with UnitedHealthCare Insurance, Minnesota State Mankato receives $20,000-25,000 annually for .30 FTE of a full-time Insurance Coordinator/Advocate along with some additional supplies. This is of particular importance to international students, as the Insurance Coordinator helps them navigate the policy; Student Health Services provides most of their primary care while they are attending Minnesota State Mankato.

While Student Health Services has been able to secure funding for many of its outreach programs there will be one major hurdle to overcome in the next 10 years: a place to call home. The department faces a potential move from its present location as the new dining hall is built and its current space in Carkoski Commons is slated to be demolished within the next decade

Student Health Services serves a third of the student population—4,500 unique individuals annually, which includes more than 12,000 total visits. It has been a valuable resource for our campus since 1938 and will continue to be for years to come. The pursuit of external funds is needed now more than ever as it looks to the future

Big ideas and real-world thinking on campus and in the community.