Julie Edwards named AVP for student health and wellbeing

Following a nationwide search, Julie Edwards, director of the Cornell Health’s Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, has been named assistant vice president of student and campus life for student health and wellbeing, effective July 1.

Julie Edwards

“We’re thrilled to welcome Julie into this role, where she will provide management oversight for Cornell Health and strategic direction to enhance our vision for and dedication to student health and well-being at Cornell,” said Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life. “Through her previous successes at Cornell Health and in the Skorton Center, Julie’s firsthand knowledge of our campus’s landscape will help drive forward holistic and far-reaching initiatives that link students’ well-being to personal and academic success.”

In her new role, Edwards will oversee more than 250 staff members supporting medical services, nursing services, clinical support services, counseling and psychological services, nutritional health, occupational medicine, student disability services and administrative services, as well as the Skorton Center.

“I’m honored to be selected as AVP for student health and wellbeing at Cornell and have this exhilarating opportunity to work in an expanded capacity within the Division of Student and Campus Life,” Edwards said. “I’m excited to build upon the existing strong foundation, to think critically about how we can take our initiatives to the next level, ensuring that Cornell Health leadership and expertise is at the table for conversations centered around campus well-being.”

Cornell Health’s mission is to foster lifelong learning and well-being through innovative services and strategies that promote the physical, emotional and social health of individuals and the diverse campus community. It serves more than 80% of Cornell’s students each year, totaling nearly 120,000 in-person and virtual health care visits annually.

Edwards joined the Skorton Center in 2022 and led the restructuring and expansion of its team, doubling it in size. This led to the creation and launch of a pilot well-being coaching program; expansion of Let’s Meditate mindfulness meditation sessions across campus; and a renewed focus on providing bystander intervention training for students, staff and faculty. Edwards also spearheaded Cornell’s adoption of the Okanagan Charter – a formal pledge to use a systems-level approach to promote health and well-being across the university – as part of its initiative to become a Health Promoting Campus.

In spring 2023, Edwards’ team launched a student well-being survey to provide baseline data to track the progress of new initiatives. Information from that survey will enhance existing datasets related to public health measures (e.g., student use of alcohol and other drugs; sexual assault and related misconduct; and their levels of psychological distress).

“Given the direct link between students’ health and well-being and their academic and personal success, my aim is to ensure health and well-being are prioritized alongside other key initiatives at Cornell,” Edwards said. “I’m looking forward to further engaging students, staff and faculty to understand their experiences, gather feedback and make data-informed improvements in all of the work we do.”

Edwards has more than 25 years of experience providing strategic, operational and organizational leadership in academic and community health settings. Prior to Cornell, she served as the director of health promotion at the University of Chicago, where she implemented a campus health needs assessment to identify health priorities and developed multidisciplinary teams to address them.

Edwards also serves on several national committees and boards, including the American College Health Association, where she worked on task forces focused on COVID and on developing guidelines to inform comprehensive college health programs. She also co-chaired the planning committee for the NASPA Strategies Conference, contributing to broader health promotion initiatives, and serves as secretary for the U.S. Health Promoting Campuses Network.

Edwards earned her master’s in health administration and doctorate in education from the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Illinois.

Stephen D’Angelo is a communications lead for Student and Campus Life.

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Lindsey Knewstub