Counseling Center Director Retires after 30 Years

Posted: December 6, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Megan McDonnell

Ralph Roberts, director of the Counseling Center since 1975, has announced his plans to retire this month. As director, Roberts oversees the operations of the Counseling Center. The Counseling Center and University Life will hold a reception in his honor on Thursday, Dec. 9, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Student Union Building I Lobby on the Fairfax Campus.

Roberts began working at George Mason in 1975, when the school had about 7,000 students. He notes that half the buildings now on campus did not exist, including the Johnson Center, and that the first housing units were just being built.

In these past 30 years, Roberts has helped guide the Counseling Center to grow with the university. He has seen the center grow from a 3-person office to one with 10 counselors and psychologists, 3 externs, 3 graduate assistants, and 3 office managers and administrative assistants.

Two of the programs Roberts is especially proud of are the Black Peer Counseling Program and Learning Services. Black Peer Counseling grew out of the need for minority students to succeed in higher education, and offered training for students to learn how to counsel each other. Roberts is now helping the program expand to reach all minority students at George Mason. Learning Services began as Study Skills to help students cope with the demands of college. Study skills workshops and individual study skills counseling provide learning experiences to improve academic skills.

Over the past 10 years Roberts has also overseen the implementation of national screenings for depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse to raise awareness among the students.

In his retirement, Roberts hopes to spend his time reading the Washington Post from cover to cover and volunteering or working for an environmental organization, such as the Sierra Club.

Prior to joining George Mason, Roberts worked at Virginia Tech as a counselor after earning his PhD in counseling psychology from the University of North Dakota. He earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Jamestown College.

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