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Ground is broken for McLeod Tyler Wellness Center

  • Breaking ground
    Breaking ground  At the June 12 ceremony for the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center, (from left) Ronald Russell, Linda Knight, Kelly Crace, Goody Tyler, Bee McLeod, W&M President Taylor Reveley, Ginger Ambler and Anna Wong '17 break ground.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Breaking ground
    Breaking ground  Donor Bee McLeod '83, M.B.A. '91 speaks at the June 12 groundbreaking ceremony for the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center, with fellow donor Goody Tyler looking on before speaking next.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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Quipping that the formal name is actually Bee and Goody’s House of Health, donors Bee McLeod and Goody Tyler joined a host of William & Mary community members to break ground on the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center June 12.

The new building, located near the Sadler Center, will contain the university’s health promotion team, counseling center, health center, campus recreation’s wellness programming and a Center for Mindfulness and Authentic Excellence. It is projected to open in the fall of 2018.

Brief remarks were followed by ceremonial shoveling of dirt on a sunny, steamy morning.

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Speakers and attendees thanked McLeod '83, M.B.A. '91 and Tyler, of Norfolk, Virginia, for their generous contribution to the project.

The new center is named after McLeod and Tyler for their role in advancing the health and wellness of students on and off campus, and for funding the center in part. They have both given significantly to the university and its current For the Bold campaign, including a $3.5 million gift toward the construction and interior space of the wellness center, as well as funding for new programs that will be offered within it.

McLeod and Tyler have also given generously during the current campaign to a host of areas at W&M, including endowed scholarships and professorships, Swem Library, Athletics, the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, the Campus Recreation Center, Alumni Leadership Fund, Alumnae Initiatives Endowment and the Fund for William & Mary. They both serve on the Campaign Steering Committee of the For the Bold campaign.  McLeod is a trustee of the College of William & Mary Foundation and past chair of the Swem Library Board.

“My husband and I have always looked most fondly at aspects of the College that positively impact the largest number of students and campus community members,” McLeod said. “This center, focused on optimizing the well-being of our community, certainly mirrors our goals.”

She acknowledged that the center will be built on the site of the former campus housing known as the Lodges, which were closed in 2016 and have been razed. The Lodges, McLeod said, were considered the top housing option when she was a student, but the wellness center going up in this prime spot on campus will serve a higher purpose.

Tyler, a retired nurse anesthetist, spoke of his experiences seeing first-hand how stress can negatively impact people’s lives as well as how tools to deal with it can help. He added that he himself had sought professional counseling help.

Tyler, who was named an honorary W&M alumnus in 2011, said that having the different options under one roof can make students more comfortable visiting for counseling or mental health services.

“For us at William & Mary, I believe this building will provide a way for students to get the help they need without fear,” Tyler said. “No one will know why they are going to the wellness center. It could be for counseling, yoga or a massage, or a host of other options open to them.

“The first step in treating someone is getting them through the door. This beautiful building will get students through the door, the help they need, and it will be a model for other colleges across the country.”

W&M President Taylor Reveley said it was important to build something meaningful for students on the former site of the Lodges, and that wellness services were the clear choice.  He added that students come to college needing more help with wellness than used to be the case for a whole host of reasons, and that they and their parents have greater expectations for campus services of all types, including wellness.

“And I think William & Mary has taken many steps forward in meeting these needs in recent years,” Reveley said. “This new wellness center, however, is going to be a huge step in the right direction. It’s going to be a giant leap forward.”

Anna Wong ’17 served as a student member of the integrative wellness center building committee. She emphasized the importance of making holistic health a centerpiece of the student experience.

Wong talked about being embarrassed while trying to meditate in a study room last year at Swem Library before a meditation and prayer room was added there.

“And I think that this is because space is powerful,” Wong said. “It is powerful to have a space specifically designed for a purpose, to have a space where you know that your purpose is welcome.

“Tradition is a priority at William & Mary. And to me, the construction of this new center makes integrative wellness a tradition.”

Wong told of how yoga practitioners begin by creating space in the body, and then opening their minds.

“We begin by creating a physical space, and gradually I believe our campus culture will open itself to wellness as the center of lifelong learning and of lifelong service,” Wong said. “On behalf of all students, thank you for this incredible gift. The world of good you are bringing us will help us bring some good into the world.”

Wong spoke of an “unfortunate” stereotype of W&M students as stressed out, overextended and sleep-deprived. Ginger Ambler, W&M vice president for student affairs, expressed that the wellness center is a step toward managing the causes of those conditions.

“I believe that William & Mary will be known widely as a leader in integrative wellness,” Ambler said. “I believe that this building will be a place of welcome, creativity, caring, self-discovery and healing.

“I believe that together we can create a campus culture where excellence and well-being go hand in hand.”