Higher Ed

Kean University Partners with EY to Build Vitality Index

Kean University has become the first higher education institution in the nation to team up with EY, the global professional services firm, to build a Vitality Index; a tool for bolstering physical, mental, social and financial health among members of the campus community.

“Kean University has always valued the well-being of its students, faculty and staff, but this new initiative allows us to take that commitment to the next level,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “By creating and using our Vitality Index, Kean University leaders are able to use data to take the pulse of Kean community members and work to close any gaps in well-being.”

Repollet will also be a featured speaker on wellness at EY’s 2023 Strategic Growth Forum next month. The event, attended by thousands of CEOs and global market leaders, offers seminars and networking opportunities.

The Union, New Jersey-based university began working with EY on the project in 2022, said Kean Deputy Chief of Staff T. Itunu Balogun.

“Kean University’s participation with EY to ensure holistic wellness for faculty, staff and students sets us apart from universities across the nation,” she said. “Our intentionality on creating a culture of care highlights our focus on the whole person and demonstrates our commitment to the well-being of our entire Kean community.”

The project also supports Kean’s work in the Moon Shot for Equity initiative, a public-private partnership focused on eliminating equity gaps in higher education.

Mental health and wellness became pressing issues on college campuses during and after the pandemic, sparking increased focus on wellness at many institutions.

Seeking to dig deeper, with an eye to supporting student retention and further improving the collective well-being, Kean engaged EY to conduct a health assessment and develop a data-driven well-being strategy.

“As Kean University raises our profile as a national research university and reinforces our position as an anchor institution in our region, we are keeping our people – Kean students, faculty and staff – at the forefront,” Repollet said.

Data for the Vitality Index was gathered through surveys of students, faculty and staff, as well as existing Kean data collection sources. The Employee Vitality Index went live in August for use by the Well-Being Task Force, and the student version is due to go live by the end of October.

“Measuring, diagnosing and influencing the vitality of students, staff and faculty is essential to running a high-performing, efficient and accountable organization,” said Tasha Youngblood Brown, managing director and U.S. East Higher Education Leader for EY. 

Frank Giampietro, EY Americas wellbeing officer, said Kean has a “great opportunity to differentiate themselves.

“Kean is demonstrating a strong commitment to making well-being a top priority,” Giampietro said.

Kean also renovated the Wellness Center for students with new space for group therapy and launched Uwill, which offers round-the-clock mental health teletherapy. For employees, Kean launched Well-Being at Work, an initiative offering on-campus walks and activities as well as a wellness app called Virgin Pulse. The University also renovated the fitness center.

Kean’s Chief Well-Being Officer Erika Charles said the Well-Being Task Force and steering committee will establish a “champion network” to enhance well-being efforts, and continue data collection and assessment to support well-being interventions and strategies. 

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