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Catawba College gift will establish mental health counseling program

Catawba College News Service

SALISBURY — Catawba College has received a $250,000 gift to establish a mental health counseling curriculum, according to Dean Jim Hand of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance.

The curriculum is made possible with a gift from the Jim Whitton family — Jim Whitton Sr., a former Salisbury resident and former member of the Catawba board of trustees, and his wife, Barbara; Jim (Jimmy) Whitton Jr. and his wife, Barbara; Anne Whitton Bolyea; and Jane Whitton Trevey and her husband, Chris.

The school plans to establish a minor in counseling in its undergraduate program, as well as a graduate program in counseling.

Associate Professor Chad Betters said there is a significant need in the state for these programs, with 15 percent to 20 percent anticipated growth in the next five years. Betters is a professional counselor with more than 15 years experience in both academic and clinical settings.

Catawba plans a generalist program in counseling that will allow students to specialize in programs such as addiction counseling, pediatrics, rehabilitation, education or other specialties.

“This allows the greatest degree in marketability,” said Betters.

“The mental health counseling program stays true to the mission of Catawba of service to the community,” said Hand. “The counseling program is very intentional, as it speaks to character, scholarship and service. We want to build character and have empathic, trained workers for this community.

“At Catawba, we are not just training for the job, we are training for life. We teach students to think of others before self and then to serve.”

The School of Health Sciences and Human Performance offers majors in nursing, athletic training, exercise science, therapeutic recreation, sports management and recreation.

Catawba’s Mind Body Soul Campaign for Growth plans to raise $3.9 million for the school, including a new outdoor recreation activity center for expanded student fitness and outdoor recreation.

Other plans include refurbishing the exercise science and anatomy labs and beginning a graduate program in sports management and a master of science in nursing degree.

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