Sharon Kirkland-Gordon, who served as the University of Maryland’s counseling center’s director for nearly a decade, has retired.
Kirkland-Gordon, who started in 2010, presided over the center during a key time, which included the emergence of student activist group SPARC, Scholars Promoting and Revitalizing Care, amid concerns about long wait times for mental health counseling appointments.
In February 2018, the group began a campaign called “30 Days Too Late,” during which they strove to raise awareness for long wait times for appointments at the center.
During Kirkland-Gordon’s tenure, the counseling center instituted a triage service, contracting a company called Protocall Services to provide 24/7 mental health services to students over the phone, she said.
Kirkland-Gordon said she’s proud, too, of the student activism focused on mental health issues at the university.
“Years ago, we wanted to engage students in this idea of: ‘If you’re feeling stress, please seek us out,’” she said. “We were doing that 20, 25 years ago, and now it’s sort of taken hold.”
[Read more: This student group says counseling comes “30 days too late” at UMD]
Kirkland-Gordon, who started at the center as a doctoral assistant about 30 years ago before becoming a staff psychologist, said she relocated to Buffalo, New York, to be closer to family and plans to do temporary counseling work at the University at Buffalo.
A search committee, which includes an undergraduate and a graduate student, has identified “several highly qualified candidates,” according to a statement from assistant vice president for student affairs Warren Kelley sent by university spokesperson Natifia Mullings.
In-person interviews for finalists have been taking place this summer, Kelley said.
“Candidates will meet with key stakeholders, including Counseling Center staff, Division of Student Affairs leadership, representatives from other departments, and student leaders,” the statement read.
Kelley Bishop, director of the University Career Center and the President’s Promise, will also serve as the acting director of the Counseling Center until the position is filled, the statement read.
“I think the Counseling Center is in great hands,” Kirkland-Gordon said. “I’m very proud of the accomplishments that we have achieved over the past 9 years.”