In Warfield 103, Steve Large sits in his office surrounded by decorative modern art paintings and the scent of citrus, coming from an essential oil diffuser. Shades of orange – his favorite color – fill the room and provide a warm atmosphere for all who enter.
Large was hired as the assistant vice president of health and wellness for student affairs at Miami University on June 11, 2018.
In this new position, Large will oversee the departments of student counseling services, student health services and the office of student wellness.
“Miami University aspires to be one of the healthiest campuses in the nation and recognizes the need for someone to lead that work,” said Large. “More generally, my day-to-day work entails a lot of connecting, listening and learning from our campus and community partners to help in the planning and executing of strategic initiatives related to health and wellness.”
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Large went on to attend college for a year at Miami Hamilton and then finished undergrad at John Carroll University. He then went to Wright State University, where he earned his doctorate in clinical psychology before working as a staff psychologist at the University of Dayton.
For the past nine years, Large worked at Gannon University as the director of the counseling center where he coordinated and managed the advising of students.
Large feels very honored to have received a job at Miami and compares the opportunity to “winning the occupation lottery.”
The history, aesthetics and students of Miami are what makes Large passionate about his job.
“I would describe Miami students as ridiculously bright, passionate, and engaged,” Large said. “The depth of Miami students is notable.”
Large regards himself as a student-centered administrator.
“I’ve always prided myself with getting in the trenches with students,” he said.
To improve the counseling service here at Miami, Large does not plan on making any immediate changes but hopes to build upon what the university has already put forth.
Large has expressed the need for more office space for student counseling services due to the increase in demand from students. He believes a building to house all three departments would lead to a more comprehensive offering of services.
Large says it is his understanding that despite an effort around 2014-2015 to address the problem with renovation plans, the funding was never secured for such a project.
An Associated Student Government Resolution was passed in the 2016-2017 school year in support of expanding the building capacity of SCS, but little has come of it.
Additionally, Large thinks more work can be done to increase his department’s outreach.
“I think peer-to-peer dialog is so important,” Large said.
Large believes that the more students truthfully and openly talk about their experiences with counseling services, the more students will utilize these services.
In most university communities, Large feels expanding upon diversity and inclusion and communicating what is going well from a student perspective are some of the biggest challenges colleges face.
“There’s lots of focus on high profile negative behaviors, and we might lose sight of the engaged students who aren’t participating in those behaviors,” Large said. “It’s important to celebrate our successes.”
What Large finds unique to Miami is how highly residential the campus and city of Oxford are. By having students live together in similar places and environments, students have shared experiences and connections that end up forming strong solidarities in behavior.
Large said the accessibility of bars and restaurants within walking distance of student dorms, apartments and houses further exacerbate the drinking common denominator for leisure activity Uptown. It is also unusual, Large said, for 18-year-olds to be allowed into bars. Until he arrived in Oxford, that had never been an occurrence in any of the college towns he has been in over his educational and professional career.
These common behaviors set the standard for what is considered typical and, ultimately, influences the university’s culture.
Large said he and Dean of Students Kimberly Moore are working to develop a student wellness strategy around alcohol, specifically.
“Seek support services if you feel like you’re going to need that,” Large said. “See that decision to seek support as an indicator of courage, strength, and vulnerability, not of weakness.”