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January 31, 2013

Purdue University Student Health Center selects director

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Gail A. Walenga, assistant vice president for student affairs at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, will become the Purdue University Student Health Center's director, effective Friday (Feb. 1).

Walenga replaces James Westman, who had served as the center's director for 22 years before retiring in 2012. Sarah Sayger had been serving as interim director since his retirement and will move back to her role as medical director and assistant health center director.

Walenga, who was selected in a national search, brings several years of medical experience, much of which was spent in administrative capacities, and also has been involved in academic settings. She has been assistant vice president for student affairs at Miami University since 2008, with administrative oversight in student health and counseling service, the Office of Student Wellness, and the women's center on campus.

Before that, she had worked at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles since 1998, first as director of pediatrics and medical genetics, then as pediatric nursing health system manager and director of ambulatory care services. She also previously worked at Shriners Hospital for Children in Los Angeles in various administrative roles, including as interim administrator, and was an adjunct associate professor in the School of Education at the University of Southern California from 1984-2004.

"Dr. Walenga’s breadth and depth of experience will be extremely valuable in taking the Purdue University Student Health Center and all of its services to the next level of excellence," said Melissa Exum, Purdue vice president for student affairs. "She is committed to the holistic development of all students' health and welfare. Dr. Walenga is very passionate about her work, and I am very excited to have her on our team."

Purdue's center, known as PUSH, offers affordable health care, mental health services and wellness education services to the nearly 40,000 students and university community on the West Lafayette campus. The center provides allergy care and immunization, a laboratory, physical therapy, prescription assistance, radiology, sports medicine, urgent care, and a women's clinic. Its medical clinic is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each weekday, and its urgent care is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The center also offers an after-hours hotline that allows students to speak with a registered nurse or master level clinician.

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu

Sources:  Melissa Exum, 765-494-5776, exum@purdue.edu

Gail Walenga, gwalenga@purdue.edu