College can be one of the most rewarding, exhilarating and productive times in a person’s life. It can also be demanding, stressful and emotionally overwhelming for some students. Especially now, as COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the residential college experience, supporting the health and wellness of our community is our top priority during these unprecedented times. One year ago, Syracuse University opened the Barnes Center at The Arch, a facility whose holistic approach to wellness has transformed the University’s ability to deliver every resource needed to fortify the body, mind and spirit.
The Barnes Center at The Arch transcends the notion of a campus activity center. The beautifully renovated space is dramatic in its visual impact and size, but its unique value to the University community is in the enhanced accessibility of therapeutic offerings, health care, recreation and fitness.
Caring for the Whole Student
A comprehensive health care center staffed with medical professionals provides a full spectrum of physical, mental and emotional wellness resources. Health services and health promotion are fully integrated and personalized in a stepped-care model focused on individual needs.
Registered nurses and certified counselors use an electronic records system to coordinate resources that address individual student concerns. For example, a student exhibiting symptoms of anxiety or depression might be assessed by a triage nurse and then referred to a counselor and a personal trainer. Staff nutritionists help students improve eating habits and manage health concerns, and wellness kits are distributed to reduce stress, promote healthy sleep habits and prevent colds and flu.
In the Crowley Family MindSpa, tools that measure heart rate and brain activity can assess stress levels. Elevated levels can then be reduced by using meditation, light therapy and biofeedback—all available at the facility.
Fitness, Fun and Puppy Love
Open to the entire campus community, the center’s massive recreation complex features two pools, basketball courts, an indoor track, dance studios, classrooms, cardio and free-weight facilities and a climbing wall. A dedicated esports room with 44 gaming stations and professional-grade equipment for competitive gamers promotes teamwork, communication and leadership skills. Outdoor equipment check-out is offered for off-campus hiking, camping and recreation.
Perhaps the most popular space in the complex is the Kathy ’73 and Stan Walters ’72 Pet Therapy Room, home of the Deborah A. Barnes Pet Therapy Program. Tail-wagging canines delight and comfort students who may be missing their pets at home. Based on studies about pet therapy, the program can lower heart rate, reduce stress and provide connection for students under pressure.
“Today’s university students want excellent academics, extracurricular activities that ignite their passion, and health and wellness opportunities that help balance the rigor and demands of their entire experience,” said Steven W. Barnes ’82 at the center’s opening celebration last year. Barnes, the Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus, and his wife Deborah donated $5 million to help build the center. “Creating a place where students can find life balance will empower them to succeed,” he added.
Deepak Chopra Speaks
On October 16, Virtual Family Weekend featured Dr. Deepak Chopra, world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation and founder of Chopra Global. The virtual event was moderated by Mike Tirico ’88 host and play-by-play announcer with NBC Sports Group and an alumnus of the Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Story was updated on February 8, 2022.