New approach means better connection, easier accessibility to support students

Author: Jenna Liberto and Lari’onna Green

The People, by Jenna Liberto, Director of Internal Communications

It’s no insignificant mission to accompany students navigating challenges and learning to access resources when they need support.

Operating between the academic world and its clinical counterpart, a team of staff members known as care and wellness consultants functions as the front line for students seeking support for their distinct needs — everything from academic help to mental health counseling.

Jimmy Tull, Center for Student Support and Care care and wellness consultant (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)
Jimmy Tull, care and wellness consultant (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

“We work very closely with the University Counseling Center and University Health Services,” Jimmy Tull says.

Tull, who was first a rector and is now a care and wellness consultant, knows all about the art of walking beside young people through life’s milestones. He was a high school history and religion teacher for almost a decade following his own college career. Now, having transitioned from serving the undergraduate community to graduate and professional students, he shepherds these students through a unique phase of life. This is the first year there is a care and wellness staff member dedicated full-time to graduate students.

“It’s part of the University’s commitment to increase graduate student support,” Tull says. “I serve as, technically, a case manager, but a lot of times it’s a resource coordinator for our grad students. I’m able to walk with students who are undergoing some level of crisis — whether that be academic struggles or needing to get connected with accommodations. It can vary from a major mental health crisis to considering engaging with counseling the first time, and helping students understand the resources that are here and connecting them to those.”

Tull says it’s about giving students a space to step back and a guided conversation to reassess and recalibrate, if necessary. And, as Margaret Morgan, director of the Center for Student Support and Care, would add, doing so in a safe space.

As a Notre Dame graduate who has spent the last 12 years working as a staff member, Morgan says she feels formed by Notre Dame. It’s an energy she brings now to her role.

“One of the things I love about [Notre Dame] and I think is incredibly unique is we believe very deeply in the power of relationships and the power of people. Our residential model is based on that: ‘come share life and be in a community with one another,’ and I see the care and wellness consultants as an extension of that mission. We say to students,

‘Whatever it is that you want to come talk about, we will help you untangle and figure that out; we will be with you in that,’” Morgan says. “Notre Dame is blessed to have a lot of resources, and I think what is hard sometimes is that we can’t always name all of the resources that are there. So in some ways, our job, my team’s actual job, is to just remember all of the resources so that a student doesn’t have to remember everything. They just have to remember us.”

Margaret Morgan, director of the Center for Student Support and Care (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)
Margaret Morgan, director of the Center for Student Support and Care (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

When it comes to a potential crisis, time is certainly of the essence. Morgan says her team is committed to helping students identify resources and support sooner — before they get to a place of crisis. It’s the difference between getting a student connected to help after one missed class versus a week of missed classes. In this example, her team’s connection to both students and faculty becomes a crucial piece of the puzzle. It’s one key reason the embedded care and wellness consultant model is creating positive outcomes.

“We have a great example of this with the Transformational Leaders Program in undergraduate education. We have a care and wellness consultant who spends 50 percent of her time in that office. It’s very easy for their staff after they meet with a student to knock on her door and say, ‘Hey, Annie, I had this conversation. What do you think about this?’ It gives a resource in many ways to the staff and faculty that work daily with students to help them feel supported and not alone when they’re navigating with students,” Morgan shares.

In this model, success looks like connections. Tull recognizes that progress in well-being can look nonlinear. And it’s that powerful lesson he hopes his students will take with them beyond campus.

“It’s not as simple as someone injures their ankle and then they’re healed and they’re good,” he says. “We work with students who have a lot of challenges, and for them to be able to see that this isn’t just a struggle you made it through, this is a stepping stone on the way to your larger goals — it’s very important for our students to be able to have that perspective.”



The Model, by Lari’onna Green, Student Health and Wellness Communications Specialist

Center for Student Support and Care consultant Jimmy Tull’s office in the College of Engineering

Located on the second floor of the Coleman-Morse Center, the Center for Student Support and Care provides students with comprehensive, individualized care to ensure academic and social success both in and outside the classroom. Through Sara Bea Accessibility Services and the care and wellness consultants, the center serves as a resource to all students to help them navigate both internal and external barriers, cultivate resilience and journey toward their most authentic selves.

This year, in an effort to offer more personalized support services, the center launched a streamlined and individualized approach to student care through the introduction of access consultants and the growth of the embedded care and wellness consultant model.

Jimmy Tull, Center for Student Support and Care care and wellness consultant, checks in with a faculty member in the College of Engineering. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)
Tull checks in with a faculty member in the College of Engineering. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Access consultants are now organized by college and exclusively serve students registered with Sara Bea. Students are assigned an access consultant based on their respective colleges and work with one staff member on their accommodations. In forming partnerships with deans and faculty to better understand the culture of the college or school their students are in, access consultants can better cultivate relationships with the students.

Care and wellness consultants — who are trained in student wellness, mental health and behavior management — respond to reports of student concerns, problem-solve behavior issues and determine next-step interventions. They also advise students, faculty, staff, friends and family members on issues surrounding student wellness.

The recent expansion of this model includes the addition of consultants into three new spaces on campus. Notre Dame International now houses a care and wellness consultant who works in the study abroad program to provide guidance to students who are preparing to travel abroad or return home. Additionally, a care and wellness prevention and outreach specialist was introduced to offer support to readmitted students, and an embedded care and wellness consultant was added to the College of Engineering to work specifically with graduate students.

These embedded consultants continue to lower barriers both for students in need of support and for faculty and staff in need of consultation on how to best support students. These staff members divide their time between Coleman-Morse and the colleges, schools or specialized areas in which they work, including the Colleges of Science and Engineering and the Transformational Leaders Program, among others. Consultants host office hours to better support individual students, and email, phone and in-person consultations are available for faculty and staff to offer additional support to students.

Originally published by Jenna Liberto and Lari’onna Green at on March 09, 2024.