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Westminster's Wellness Center director earns national nursing award

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Posted on Friday, April 23, 2021

Melissa Baron, director of Westminster College’s student health care facility, has earned the American College Health Association’s (ACHA) Ollie B. Moten Award.

The award, established in 1992, honors ACHA members who have made a significant impact on the institution of higher education in which they work, regardless of whether the individuals have been active beyond their institutions.

“For many of us the year 2020 will be forever remembered as one of the most challenging in our careers and your exemplary work to support students, promote the field of college health, and support the mission of ACHA during this time is deserving of high praise,” said Aaron Daugherty, associate director of administration at Habif Health and Wellness Center and member of the ACHA Awards Advisory Committee, in a communication to Baron.

Baron, a registered nurse who oversees the Westminster College Wellness Center, has served as the chief public health official for the campus since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Baron has spearheaded all of Westminster’s COVID-19 testing, quarantine and isolation efforts, and contact tracing operations.  As Wellness Center director, Baron oversees general health services, wellness promotion, mental health counseling services and the Office on Violence Against Women Campus Program.

“Melissa played a critical role in helping institutional leaders understand the scope and urgency of the pandemic, provided exemplary health expertise for our planning and led an effective and excellent approach to mitigation and community health,” said Westminster College Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Gina Vance. “Her work has been compassionate and sacrificial. I would not have wanted to walk this journey with any other director. She makes me better. She makes our institution better. And she makes our students better.”

Baron joined Westminster College in 2011. She earned her nursing degree from Sharon Regional Health System and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Education degree from Westminster College. She resides in Sharon, Pa.

The Ollie B. Moten Award will be presented during a virtual awards ceremony on June 4. The award commemorates the work of Ollie B. Moten, RN, past chairwoman of the Nursing Section of ACHA and former director of the Student Health Center at Texas Southern University in Houston.