Robert Kelly Crace, director of counseling and psychological services at Duke University, has been selected as William & Mary’s first associate vice president for health and wellness.
The position was created this year as part of a reorganization of the Division of Student Affairs. In it, Crace, who previously worked at W&M for 17 years, will oversee four units: the Student Health Center, Counseling Center, Campus Recreation and Health Promotion. He will also have an adjunct appointment in the W&M Department of Psychology as an executive assistant professor.
“What a delight it is to be welcoming Dr. Kelly Crace back to William & Mary to serve in this critical leadership position,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler. “Given his extensive professional experience, the focus of his research, and his passion for promoting well-being in both individuals and communities, Dr. Crace could not be better suited to help us ‘create an engaging learning environment in which community is strengthened and individuals flourish,’ as our Student Affairs vision statement says. Kelly is a highly respected colleague who knows William & Mary and our student culture well. He will hit the ground running.”
According to the position description, the associate vice president for health and wellness will report directly to Ambler and supervise two full-time health promotion specialists as well as the directors of the Student Health Center, the Counseling Center and Campus Recreation. In addition to collaborating with instructional faculty and professional staff across campus to “deliver a well-coordinated response to the health and wellness needs of an increasingly diverse student population,” Crace will also be in charge of creating and implementing student health-related policies, managing student health-insurance policies and contracts, providing budget oversight for his departments and facilitating strategic planning.
“The relentless pace, higher stakes and fewer margins of error in our society can amplify fear of failure to a point where perfectionistic control and avoidance become our new ‘normal,’” said Crace. “Wellness can be seen as a threat to the pursuit of excellence. We have a wonderful opportunity to model how university environments can cultivate a collective wisdom and resilience where excellence, integrity, and wellness are synonymous. To be able to return to a community of such talented students, staff and faculty dedicated to creating a culture of flourishing has profound meaning for me.”
Crace received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began his career at William & Mary, serving as a staff psychologist from 1992 to 1997 and as assistant dean of students from 1997 to 1999. Crace went on to become the director of William & Mary’s Counseling Center before leaving the College in 2009 to become a staff psychologist and eventual director at Duke University.
In addition to his work on college campuses, Crace has been the president of Applied Psychology Resources since 1994. The company provides psychological consulting services for businesses as well as academic and sports organizations.
Throughout his career, Crace has served on numerous committees and professional organizations. At Duke, he was a member of the Health and Wellness Leadership Team, Behavioral Assessment Team and Student Health Insurance Advisory Committee. At William & Mary, he chaired the Mental Health Task Force, Assessment Committee and Orientation Committee and was a member of several others, including the Medical Review Committee. Crace has also been involved with the Virginia Consortium for Professional Psychology and the Board of Mental Health Professionals for an organization that is dedicated to college student grief.
Crace has led thousands of workshops and seminars on values-based flourishing and resilience, including several at William & Mary. He also has numerous publications to his name, including 2011’s “Life Values Inventory Online: Clarifying your personal truth.”
While at William & Mary, Crace was asked twice by students to serve as the Candlelight Ceremony speaker on Commencement weekend. He also received the Student Affairs Division’s Chambers-Reid Award for Professional Excellence and an Outstanding Faculty Award from the members of “Thirteen,” a secret society.
Crace is expected to begin in the new position on August 1.