Retirement of Dr. Melodee Lasky

 

Dear Colleagues:

Dr. Lasky joined Rutgers in 2002 as Director of Health Services at Hurtado after serving as Program Director of the Family Practice Residency at Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey. In 2004 she became the Executive Director of Student Health Services. She was promoted to Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs – Health and Wellness in 2014, which in addition to Student Health, included oversight for Recreation and VPVA. In 2019 she also assumed the role of Associate Vice President for Student Health in RBHS, providing university-wide coordination and leadership for student health initiatives.

During her 19 years, Dr. Lasky contributed immensely to advancing student health practice in New Brunswick, from the independent health and counseling centers before T.U.E. to an integrated multi-disciplinary student health practice. Some of her accomplishments include:

  • Establishment of CAPS resulting in the coordination of behavioral health/mental health services across New Brunswick campuses with a focus on student needs that saw the evolution of case management services, community-based counseling, and the Next Step program.
  • Helped develop and implement the Threat Assessment Safety Committee (TASC).
  • Facilitated the move to all-electronic health records that are shared between CAPS and Medical, which includes the online portal for appointments and secure message providers resulting in seamless and better care for students.
  • Oversaw construction of new buildings and renovation of others to create more functional and safe spaces, including CAPS at 17 Senior Street, several Hurtado renovations (students were lined up in hallways, often sitting on the floor when she first arrived), a new health center at IFNH, the Recovery House move to a new renovated space, and renovation of the Busch Health Center.
  • Advocated for and began gender-affirming hormone therapy on campus, mental health services for the trans population, and assisted to bring the gender-neutral bathroom signs into existence on campus.
  • Created a partnership with the dance program in Mason Gross to bring in athletic training to better care for and support dancers.
  • Successfully managed responses to two Meningitis B outbreaks on campus with mass vaccination clinics and other measures.
  • Brought STI testing clinics, as well as flu vaccination clinics, to the students with campus clinics outside of the student health centers.
  • Oversaw multiple successful full accreditations by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).
  • Updated immunization requirements and the documentation system, and increased collaboration across all university student health around required immunizations.
  • Fostered the expansion of programs including, most recently, Mental Health First Aid and Peer Coaching programs and Exercise is Medicine, to name a few.

Along with the above accomplishments and contributions to advancing Rutgers students' health and well-being, her leadership in the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of remarkable. We pivoted to provide telehealth services and regular COVID testing and care for our students under her leadership. Dr. Lasky proved invaluable as she offered expert guidance and advice to the university during a very challenging year.

I will miss Dr. Lasky’s compassion and care for our students and her remarkable ability to manage complex issues with integrity, composure, and thoughtfulness. I also value her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion – particularly her strong advocacy for the hiring of staff who reflect the diversity of our students or who, at first glance, might get overlooked by a traditional search process. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Lasky on her service and her many contributions to improving Rutgers' student experience, and wishing her well in her retirement.

Upon Dr. Lasky’s last day on May 10th, Dr. Francesca Maresca, the current Director of Health Outreach, Promotion, and Education (HOPE), will assume the role of Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs – Health and Wellness with oversight for CAPS, Student Health, Recreation, and HOPE. Dr. Maresca joined the Rutgers community in 2001 and is well positioned to help us continue to advance our commitment to student health and wellness. She has expertise in college health and wellness, sexual health, mental health, suicide, and LGBTQ health and serves on the leadership team for Student Health while overseeing the HOPE office. During her time at Rutgers, Dr. Maresca has led efforts to create a culture of wellbeing through assessment, planning, and implementing innovative interventions. She is currently leading our JED Campus self-study and strategic planning process. JED Campus is a “signature program of The JED Foundation designed to guide schools through a collaborative process of comprehensive systems, program and policy development with customized support to build upon existing student mental health, substance use and suicide prevention efforts.” Additionally, Dr. Maresca has co-chaired the University’s Health & Wellness Committee and chaired the Rutgers University Community Approaches to Suicide Prevention Working Group. She also serves as an adjunct instructor for the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and the Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining Rutgers, Dr. Maresca worked at the Fashion Institute of Technology and New York University. She is a proud alumna of Rutgers University–Newark College of Arts & Science and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Science and the Steinhardt School. Dr. Maresca is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).

Sincerely,

Salvador B. Mena, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Rutgers University–New Brunswick