La Salle receives $1 million gift in support of student wellness
La Salle University last fall received a $1 million gift in support of student wellness services.
The transformational seven-figure gift from alumnus Francis X. “Frank” Stanton, ’51, a former member of the University’s Board of Trustees, is expected to have a profound impact on La Salle’s Department of Student Wellness Services. The gift will allow for an expansion of programming breadth and full-time staffing for the department, which includes the Student Counseling Center, health and wellness promotion, and substance abuse and interpersonal violence education.
Stanton’s gift will help La Salle increase its trained professional staff who are devoted to outreach and individual and group sessions on self-care, wellness, anxiety relief, depression, and emotional resiliency skills. Also, it will expand preventive programming and delivery, and the purchase of other necessary resources.
“Frank Stanton embodies our University’s mission through his dedication to service,” said La Salle President Colleen M. Hanycz, Ph.D. “This generous gift supports the health and well-being of our entire campus community by providing expanded staffing and programming and improving access to critically important resources. We are grateful for Frank’s philanthropy, which will make a significant impact at La Salle University for many years to come.”
In recognition of the gift, the University introduced the renamed Paul A. Stanton Wellness Program. The gift honors the memory of the benefactor’s son, Paul, who died by suicide in March 2019. He was 59 years old.
“Paul excelled professionally, academically, and athletically,” Stanton said, “and like many in our country, he suffered from mood swings and challenges to his mental health. I am very proud to partner with La Salle University, my alma mater, to make a difference. The number of students—not just at La Salle, but across the country—who suffer from mental health issues demonstrates the need for the resources that this gift will provide.”
Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental health disorders on college and university campuses. More than 85 percent of college students report feeling overwhelmed, with nearly 42 percent identifying anxiety as their top concern while pursuing a college degree, according to data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). About 30 percent of students, an ADAA study showed, report that stress negatively affected their academic performance.
Awareness of mental health disorders is growing. As a result, colleges and universities are prioritizing the mental health of their students.
“The rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions among college students have increased dramatically across higher education,” said Kate Ward-Gaus, assistant vice president of student wellness. “Providing the appropriate level of services to meet the need is a challenge that has been talked about in every professional association related to higher education.”
“This considerable donation from Mr. Stanton,” Ward-Gaus added, “will honor the life of his beloved son Paul and helps us expand our staff, preventive programming, and technology-based interventions to improve and enhance the mental health of La Salle students. We are very grateful for the Stanton family’s generosity.”
Mental health issues are not isolated to college-age students. Nationally, anxiety disorders affect 40 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older—accounting for more than 18 percent of the population. Depression affects 16 million Americans, or about 7 percent of the population.
For this reason, Stanton said his gift will support others in the La Salle community, as well.
There’s a need in our communities, beyond our college students, for mental health services and support. It’s my hope that everyone on La Salle’s campus—from the students and staff, to the faculty and the Christian Brothers—knows where to go for help if they need it. This gift can have a meaningful impact.”
La Salle established its Student Counseling Center in 1948-49, initially to offer services to incoming first-year students and assist many of the young men entering the University after returning from military service during World War II. Today, La Salle’s Student Counseling Center supports more than 4,000 students in its campus community, including all full-time day undergraduate students.
“I want La Salle’s students and any prospective students considering La Salle to know they have somewhere to turn. That’s an important message for their parents and families, too,” Stanton said. “It’s my hope that this gift will signal to many that La Salle University cares deeply about the mental health and wellness of everyone on its campus.”
—Christopher A. Vito