Student Health Center gets new leadership

By Gus Bode

The Student Health Center’s new director has a lot to do before he assumes the position in July.

Leave job at Ohio State University – check.

Move into Southern Hills while looking for a Carbondale home – check.


Release butterflies at his daughter’s wedding – check.

Ted Grace, former director of disaster preparedness and health policy at OSU, was chosen to lead the SIUC’s Student Health Center in May. He hopes his role could help invigorate other areas of the campus.

“I understand there have been some retention issues,” Grace said. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could take part in improving retention?”

With a two-year-old facility that has been praised by college health professionals nationwide, the university’s health program incorporates medical, mental, dental and women’s health services. Its leader stands to earn $148,000 a year and manage more than 150 staff members.

Grace – who was the only one of the finalists with no ties to SIU – has plenty of experience with management.

Before his current job, he spent 15 years as director of the Student Health Center at OSU’s 40,000-student campus. He was the only candidate to work in his own private practice.

Grace said his passion for college health, which has spanned more than two decades, began during his practice years in California. Then, he said, he treated a lot of elderly patients whose health was locked in steady decline.


“There’s just not a lot you can do (in those situations),” he said. “I began looking at ways I could get to the opposite age spectrum, the opposite end of it.”

Working with younger people gave him the opportunity to educate a willing audience who had the concern and ability to change their habits for the better, Grace said.

He said he hadn’t developed specific goals yet because he’s only visited the university once. But he does plan to be literally “hands-on,” becoming the first of the facility’s directors to treat patients.

Jake Baggott, associate director of the facility, was a finalist for the position. Baggott started as a student worker and advanced through the university’s health services during the past 24 years.

Though he’s disappointed he didn’t get the job, Baggott said his commitment to the program runs deep.

“When those things don’t turn out the way that you personally hope that they would, you have to trust that there’s a reason for that,” he said. “I’m very loyal to this institution and the Student Health Center.”

And Baggott had only positive words about Grace, whom he’s met on several occasions.

He said his and Grace’s strengths complement one another.

“He’s a nice fellow, very pleasant,” Baggott said. “Obviously he’s a physician and he has a much more intimate knowledge of medicine than I do, being a lay administrator. I have a great deal more experience in business operations than he may have had directly, recently.”

Larry Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs, recommended Grace for the post.

“When we can attract people from high quality places, that makes our program look high quality too,” he said.

Dietz added that the university agreed to pay Grace more than it would have paid a director without medical experience, citing a higher market value for directors who are also doctors.

Though he holds a variety of accolades, one future event makes Grace nervous: his daughter’s June 28 wedding.

Because his wife died four-and-a-half years ago, Grace said he’s taken an aggressive role in planning the nuptials of his eldest daughter, who met her fianc’eacute; in medical school.

“For me to go with her to get the wedding gown has been special, because everybody looks at me like, ‘What are you doing here?'” Grace said. “I’m the support person and I’m going to follow it through, so everything from flowers to receptions to booking churches to the photographer, I’m involved with, so I hope I don’t forget anything.”

Allison Petty can be reached at

536-3311 ext. 254 or [email protected].