Harvard University Health Services Director Paul J. Barreira will step down June 30 after seven years in the position, University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 and Executive Vice President Katie Lapp announced in an email sent to Harvard affiliates Thursday.
During his 15 years at the University, Barreira has served as director of Behavioral Health and Academic Counseling at HUHS, overseeing Student Mental Health Services, Alcohol and Other Drug Services, the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, the Center for Wellness, and the Bureau of Study Counsel. He also served as an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School for eight years prior to being appointed HUHS director in 2012.
“Paul has significantly enhanced Harvard’s commitment to student health,” Garber and Lapp wrote in the university-wide email. “As director, Paul has advanced HUHS’s mission to provide compassionate, high-quality care and to support the health and well-being of Harvard’s diverse patient populations.”
Garber and Lapp praised Barreira’s leadership as HUHS grappled with urgent public health issues — most notably, the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and the mumps outbreak on campus in 2016.
“Its [HUHS’s] response to the mumps outbreak at Harvard in 2016 has been nationally recognized as a model for universities to combat future outbreaks,” Garber and Lapp wrote. “HUHS was also the first university health service to develop a protocol to evaluate community members who returned to campus from affected countries during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.”
In a separate letter announcing his resignation, Barreira reflected upon a tenure that he said had “stretched, and challenged, and humbled” him.
“I feel so fortunate to have spent the last seven years of my career in this role,” Barreira wrote in the letter, which was posted to the HUHS website Thursday. “Most of all, I have been inspired to work with such an extraordinary group of caregivers and human beings.”
As director, Barreira witnessed the completion of the Smith Campus Center, which houses HUHS, expanded the University’s Counseling and Mental Health Services, and implemented processes including a safety-reporting system and a data-sharing program to increase overall effectiveness in executing HUHS operations. He was known for his “student-centered approach,” according to Garber and Lapp, and sought student feedback when making changes to health services programs.
Barbara Lewis, chief of counseling and mental health services at HUHS, wrote in an email to The Crimson that Barreira “has been a tremendous support” in her role as chief of CAMHS and that she will miss “his energy and enthusiasm” as well as “the opportunities to learn more by watching him lead HUHS.”
“I’m thrilled for Paul to have the opportunity to pursue other interests and to spend more time with his wife and daughter,” Lewis wrote. “Paul has been such an important advocate for students’ mental health needs and in helping CAMHS provide more robust services. He really knows and understands what it means to provide counseling and he is passionate about improving our services.”
During the next few weeks, the University will appoint a committee to search for Barreira’s successor, according to Garber and Lapp. Barreira wrote in his letter that he looks forward to the transition.
“I know that you will not only thrive, but also grow, with new leadership,” he wrote.
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