Department head worries clinical mental health counseling program could lose accreditation if referendum fails


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If next week’s Shock the Future student fee referendum fails, acting President Rick Muma has said Wichita State will still have to find a way to pay for a new business school, but other infrastructure upgrades around the university will likely go unfinished. For WSU’s clinical mental health counseling program, that could mean a loss of accreditation.

Remodeling WSU’s play therapy center and psychology clinical labs — which the clinical mental health counseling program shares space with — is a shared Applied Studies and Liberal Arts and Sciences infrastructure priority.

Due to new licensure requirements, the (WSU) clinical mental health counseling program must be accredited by the Council for Accreditation for Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) by 2022,” wrote Jody Fiorini, head of WSU’s counseling, educational leadership, educational and school psychology (CLES) department.

The education board must approve accreditation.

“If the referendum does not pass it puts CACREP accreditation and the entire clinical mental health program at risk,” Fiorini wrote in an email.

“(I)n the worst case scenario, we might have to close the clinical mental health program to new students starting in 2022 until an alternate site can be located.”

Fiorini said the department meets regularly with the WSU Foundation about seeking donor support.

“The problem we have is that the program is relatively new so there are not as many alumni to pull from and to be honest counselors make fairly modest salaries,” Fiorini wrote. “Ironically we have discovered that it will be easier to garner donations from the broader community once the clinic is created since people have expressed a willingness to sponsor sessions for children in need of services.”

Gentry Thiesen is a political science and anthropology double major who is serving as an LAS representative on the Shock the Future steering committee. Thiesen said improvements to the psychology lab have been needed for about 10 years.

She said the psychology lab remodel as well as updated biology labs, LAS’s other infrastructure priority, would not only benefit LAS students, but also every Shocker student who takes a biology or psychology class for a gen ed or prerequisite class.

Thiesen said she believes that if the LAS upgrades are not attached to a referendum, the upgrades may never happen, or could take another 20-some years before getting addressed.

If the referendum passes, students will pay an extra $6 per credit hour in student fees, allowing WSU to bond $38.6 million. Of that, more than half — $20 million — would go towards the construction of the new business building, Woolsey Hall, on Innovation Campus.   

Thiesen said she is focused on voter turnout and emphasizing the positive impacts that the improvements would have on the university. She said all students stand to benefit from a new business building, and that moving the school from Clinton Hall would allow WSU to centralize student services, which could improve student life.

Thiesen is urging students to study the referendum before casting their vote. Voting opens next week and runs from Monday through Wednesday.