New GV Student Health Services director begins first school year as virus threats loom


Courtesy / GVSU (Amanda Pitts)

Zoë Murphy, Staff Writer

As Americans begin to return to “normal” life following the COVID-19 pandemic, university communities have attempted to give their student bodies and staff a normal experience while keeping health officials and those concerned about the virus at ease.

At Grand Valley State University a new director of Student Health Services, located in the Division of Student Affairs, will coordinate virus prevention measures and ensure the wellbeing of the campus community.

The former site manager for the Wyoming Community Health Center and U.S. Navy veteran, Edward Jones II, came into the position in July with the hope of ascertaining measurable progress related to improving the health of students and faculty on campus.

Leading GVSU’s Student Health Services, Jones said, is a broad position with a myriad of important duties.

“(I lead) the day-to-day administrative responsibilities for Student Health Services including supervision of the Campus Health Center,” Jones said. “I oversee leadership and oversight with strategic planning, budget and implementation and evaluation of services and programs. I assist in developing strategic guidance for student wellbeing at GVSU and will advise senior administrators on student and public-health related matters.”

In his three months on the job, Jones has already made efforts to improve accessibility to health-related resources and safeguard the community from potential health risks.

These efforts have ranged from crafting updated COVID-19 precautions, collaborating with local health departments and updating GVSU webpages and communication plans.

 Jones said his efforts have already begun to pay off, benefiting members of the GVSU community.

“We were able to secure over 10,000 at-home COVID-19 test kits,” Jones said.

Alongside the nationwide outbreak of monkeypox in the United States that spread quickly among young Americans, COVID-19 has maintained a persistent presence in the national discourse.

Although the spread of both viruses is now on the decline, years of virus fatigue have put many students on constant edge.

With COVID-19 and monkeypox in the news, accepting a position of power in relation to these sicknesses comes with doing all one can to ease the fears of cautious students.

“I was worried about monkeypox when it came to coming back to school this year,” said GVSU junior Asia McNamee. “We’re a big campus and I was worried I would accidentally get it from sitting in the same seat as someone who carried the disease previously sitting in that seat.”

Jones said that worries and questions about health and safety encouraged him to jump into what he sees as a vital position in a new, virus-weary age, especially on a college campus.

“If anything, it made me want the position even more,” Jones said. “Although infection control is not my primary function, my introduction was in the military. Some forget about swine influenza back in 2009. Looking back, this might have been what helped me during in my role as an administrator during the start of the pandemic.”

With colder months threatening a resurgence of multiple endemic diseases alongside COVID-19, Jones and the entirety of his department in Student Health Services will be faced with the task of safeguarding the campus community from a wide range of looming threats.