Dr. Barón leaves USD to continue his legacy of care

By Gwyneth Shoecraft

Dr. Barón celebrates his 22 years with USD at his farewell party held at SOLES.

Dr. Barón celebrates his 22 years with USD at his farewell party held at SOLES.

Dr. Moisés Barón, the current vice president of Student Wellness, has resigned from the University of San Diego after 22 years of teaching and work as an administrator. Dr. Barón is leaving USD to become the new CEO of San Diego’s oldest nonprofit, Center for Children.

Faculty and friends joined Dr. Barón for “una despedida,” or farewell party on Thursday, Sept. 4, to bid him goodbye and thank him for his years of service at USD. Carmen Vazquez, vice president of student affairs, spoke of Dr. Barón’s accomplishments at USD, highlighting the legacy of care he will leave behind.
“To Moisés’s credit he has developed a student-centered support service area for meeting the current health, mental health and wellness needs of all USD students,” Vazquez said.

Vazquez also noted Dr. Barón’s sense of humor and upstanding character.

“Moisés is a wise, strong campus leader who is well respected by his staff and all that encounter him,” Vazquez said. “We have been blessed with such a gifted, talented and dedicated professional.”
Dr. Barón leaves behind a long list of accomplishments that can be traced through his work at USD. A clinical psychologist, he immigrated from Mexico City to San Diego to attend graduate school. He then began his academic work at USD in 1992 teaching in the Marital and Family Therapy program at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES).

Dr. Barón’s dedication to the mental, physical and emotional health of students earned him a promotion to vice president of Student Wellness. Over his 12 years of service in this position, Dr. Barón has worked to create full collaboration and integration all of USD’s wellness services, which include the Counseling Center, the Center for Health and Wellness Promotion and Disability and Learning Differences Resource Center. Dr. Barón also played a large role in developing the Student Health Center into the state-of-the-art, nationally accredited facility that it is today.

Dr. Barón believes the integration and collaboration of services is vital to the success and well being of USD students.

“When a student accesses any of these services it’s like an entry point to all of the supports that are available,” Dr. Barón said. “So it’s not that if a student goes to the Health Center they are only going to be looking at what’s wrong from a medical point of view. [The Health Center] is going to be looking at it more holistically. Likewise if students go to the Counseling Center.”
Dr. Barón said that this type of collaboration within a university system is unique.

“Many universities struggle to create that level of integration,” he said. “But we have had wonderful staff that buy into this philosophy and understand that this is the best way to provide care to students at any college at this time.”

Based on the number of students seeking wellness services, that collaboration is working. According to Dr. Barón, the Health Center services 52 percent of the entire USD student population each year. The Counseling Center sees 12 percent of the student population each year. Disability and Learning Differences Resource Center has also grown. Last decade, the center served just 40 students; today it serves 450 students.

Dr. Barón sees the increased utilization of student wellness resources as a good sign.

“It means that students are aware [of the resources] and students are hearing the message of ‘take care of yourself, don’t wait,’” he said.

Having accomplished so much at USD, Dr. Barón will now begin a new legacy as CEO of San Diego’s Center for Children. Dr. Barón said the decision to leave the university was difficult, but he looks forward to future collaborations between Center for Children and USD.

“You will definitely not be seeing the last of me,” Dr. Barón said. “I plan to do my best to stay connected with this university that has been absolutely wonderful.”