On April 21, Dr. Birgit Pols posted on the NYU Abu Dhabi Student Portal announcing her resignation as the director of the university's Health and Wellness Center. She also noted that Dr. Tehmina Kazmi, associate medical director of the HWC, would assume the directorship of the center.
“I write with much regret to let you know that after serving for more than three years, I will be stepping down from my position as the Director of Health and Wellness Center for NYUAD,” the post reads.
Dean of Students David Tinagero spoke to The Gazelle about Dr. Pols’ resignation.
“Regarding ... people’s [and] employee’s privacy, I think what we put in the [message] that we sent to the community was what we felt comfortable offering. There is not much more I can add to that,” he said.
Sophomore, Residential Assistant and Anchorage Society Chairperson Djordje Modrakovic expressed his appreciation for Dr. Pols’s service. Looking toward the future, he stated his concern for the continuity of a set of projects Anchorage was planning in conjunction with the HWC. He explained that Anchorage met with Tinagero, who provided further information on the issue.
“[Anchorage’s leadership] team [was] a little bit shocked because we had a program coming up with her, this Q&A session where students should feel free to bring out any kind of concerns related to sexual health, STD testing, contraception [and] a variety of issues,” said Modrakovic.
“A couple of days before the sessions happened, they were cancelled. I tried reaching out to [Dr. Pols], but at first there was no response, and then the announcement on Student Portal happened,” he added.
Anchorage-sponsored sessions might take place next semester instead. On their end, Residential Education has recently organized Q&A sessions with Dr. Kazmi. These events are happening in the upcoming weeks.
With the departure of Dr. Pols, Tinagero said that the university will continue to work in order to ensure the well-being of the whole student body in a comprehensive manner.
“The Health and Wellness Center will continue to support our students holistically. I think we have been working closely with different communities ... on how do we make sure that ... they have the kind of support that they need to be successful.”
Chairperson of the Student Interest Group Campus Health Corey Meyer reflected on the role different student organizations on campus will play in the selection process of the new director of the HWC. In spite of his confidence in the administration to select a capable director, he advised that students have a say in the process.
“I have faith that the process is going to occur with administrators making a good decision, and they’re also going to consult students throughout the process. The Student Health Advisory Board should also play at least a small role in helping make the selection.”
Modrakovic echoed these sentiments, adding that efforts to include students in the selection process were under way.
“The administration will try to include [the] Anchorage Society in the hiring [or] interviewing process of … the new director of Health & Wellness Center ... We were promised that we’re going to be involved in that process.”
Senior and Chairperson of the Student Health Advisory Board Leena Asfour explained that they are in the process of securing an appointment with Tinagero in order to discuss the issue, as the board’s work depends largely on its relationship with the director of the HWC.
"The Student Health Advisory Board was started in the beginning of March, and we were working closely with Dr. Pols to begin projects that will improve the HWC experience. In light of the current changes, those projects have been momentarily put on hold. We are now communicating with administration to arrange to be part of the interview process for the new director," Asfour told The Gazelle.
Additional reporting by Costanza Maio. Sebastián Rojas Cabal is the deputy news editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.