News, University News

Britto MSc’96 to oversee U. health and wellness beginning January 2018

Former Wellesley College medical director hopes to integrate four offices of health and wellness

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, November 2, 2017

Vanessa Britto MSc’96 was chosen in part for her exceptional leadership qualities and clear vision, said director of CAPS Will Meek.

Vanessa Britto MSc ’96 will start as assistant vice president and executive director of health and wellness Jan. 16, 2018, wrote Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Eric Estes in a community-wide email Oct. 12. Britto, who studied community health while at the University and completed a general medical fellowship at Rhode Island Hospital, will return to oversee Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Emergency Medical Services and BWell Health Promotion.

“I’m thrilled and honored” to be returning to the University, Britto said. “I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to contribute back to my alma mater.”

Britto will inherit an organizational structure built by her predecessor, Unab Khan, who left the executive director position last June, said Lynn Dupont, the associate director of health services.

Will Meek, the director of CAPS, explained that Khan brought together the four offices involved in student health — Health Services, CAPS, EMS and BWell Health Promotion — under the umbrella of a single executive director who answers to the vice president for campus life. He said the new structure, called health and wellness, “allows one person to focus all their energy on the oversight of a cluster of offices,” which in turn allows the executive director to communicate the needs of these offices to Estes “with a singular voice.”

Britto said she intends to further integrate the four offices of health and wellness to expand upon the work Khan did. She described her vision for health and wellness in terms of a three-pillared “center of excellence for student health and wellbeing,” which would improve clinical service, infuse health professionals into medical curricula and aggregate data on the health of the student body to explore clinical questions. She also emphasized the importance of building on existing strengths and shared goals between the four offices of health and wellness.

Dupont said she hopes Britto will “continue the work that was done by our previous director.” This would entail “a lot of campus outreach, advocating for health and wellness for students, evaluating what the needs are and helping to improve the care we all provide.”

A search committee made up of students, staff and faculty engaged in a national search to form a “diverse pool of candidates” for the executive director position, Estes said, adding that Britto was selected from “a really strong finalist pool.” Estes described Britto’s hire as “an enthusiastic choice of the search committee and of the faculty, staff and students who had an opportunity to meet with her during her on-campus interview.”

Dupont and Meek were both involved in the interview process for the executive director position. Meek said Britto spoke with “professionalism, candor, humility and composure” during her interview, setting her apart from other candidates. He also praised Britto for her exceptional leadership qualities and clear vision for the future of health and wellness. “I could not be more excited” about Britto’s hire, he added.

Dupont echoed Meek’s admiration for Britto. “We’re very excited to have her be joining us. … She is a really wonderful, kind person, and she’s very passionate about working with students,” Dupont said. She added that “we’re all looking forward to working with her.”

Before accepting her new position, Britto worked as the medical director of health services at Wellesley College starting in 2001. Her past experience allows her to bring “extensive experience in college and university health services” to her new role, Estes said. “She has professional networks and relationships that will be very valuable in addition to her years of experience,” he added.

Dupont agreed that health and wellness at the University will benefit greatly from “the connections and the colleagues that (Britto) has within the college health community.”

Since 2004, Britto has been deeply involved in the American College Health Association and its regional affiliate, the New England College Health Association. “The power of this organization is in its networking opportunities,” Britto said, adding that both the ACHA and the NECHA hold annual conventions where college health professionals meet to “share best practices, understand how we can collaborate, learn from each other and explore ideas with people you might not have an opportunity to otherwise.”

The NECHA awarded Britto the President’s Award in 2016 to honor her “significant impact” on college health both at Wellesley and at the regional and national level, according to its website.