Elizabeth Downing retired from her post as director of Student Health Services earlier this month after holding the position for five years.
Downing, who has worked at UCSB in various capacities for more than 30 years, will return in October to work part-time as a Student Health clinician and resume her duties as the women’s basketball team physician and Intercollegiate Athletics liaison. She will be succeeded by Mary Ferris, who will act as both director and campus physician.
As director, Ferris will maintain and oversee the operations of the Health Center — including urgent care and medical appointments — services such as physical therapy and mental health, the full service pharmacy, X-ray lab and dental and eye clinics.
While Downing said her time as director of Student Health was valuable, she is confident that the future of Student Health is in good hands.
“It has been a great privilege for me to have learned so much over the past five years and to have represented Student Health to the campus, community and other UCs,” Downing said. “I am very, very pleased that Dr. Ferris will be taking over the helm here and can’t overstate the respect that I have for her competence, intelligence and creativity. I look forward to seeing some inevitable positive changes.”
Ferris said she is excited to take on the role of director and hopes to keep the program operating at its high standard of quality.
“Student Health is committed to its important job of keeping students healthy so they can get the most out of their time here at UCSB,” Ferris said. “I am really looking forward to continuing our programs with such a fantastic team.”
Additionally, Dean of Students Yonie Harris said she is confident in Ferris’ ability to lead the facility this upcoming year.
“Dr. Ferris has an impressive background in medicine, a deeply held dedication to high quality healthcare, an understanding of college-aged clients and experience with being a leader of a team of medical professionals,” Harris said. “I am thrilled that we have been able to select a new director of Student Health of the caliber of Dr. Mary Ferris.”
According to Ferris, the recent implementation of the healthcare reform bill will yield increased savings for Student Health and improved insurance benefits for the student body.
“I currently have a daughter in college so I am well aware of how expensive and complicated health insurance can be,” Ferris said. “There are still ongoing negotiations in progress about the best benefits for the [Student Health Insurance Program] and we are looking forward to these changes.”
According to Ferris, students can get involved at Student Health by attending quarterly Student Health Advisory Committee meetings, which offer input and suggestions regarding student safety.
Harris said the meetings act as a platform for student-physician communication.
“This campus has one of the most comprehensive health centers in the system and I have the fullest confidence that Dr. Ferris will continue to meet student needs by ensuring open communication with students,” Harris said.
For more information about Student Health or SHAC meetings, visit www.studenthealth.sa.ucsb.edu.