University health, counseling, psychological services get new home

May 02, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- Ritenour Building, which has housed all aspects of Penn State University Park's University Health Services as well as Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), is nearly 80 years old. In that time its name has changed twice -- it was once known as the Potato Grower's Hospital, thanks to the association that raised funds to construct the facility; then, after two wings were added onto the original structure in the 1950s, the building was renamed to honor physician Joseph Ritenour, a former director of UHS. Since that time, the building has remained relatively unchanged. The services it houses, however, have changed dramatically.

On June 9, a new building called the Student Health Center will officially open its doors for business. Anyone who has parked in the Eisenhower Parking Deck or visited the Bank of America Career Services Building has most likely seen the Student Health Center structure take shape next to these buildings. Standing tall, facing Pollock Halls and Mount Nittany in the distance, the new health center will be almost three times bigger than its previous home.

Beth Collitt, marketing manager for University Health Services, said the layout of the new building was created with easy access and service to students in mind, to increase overall patient satisfaction.

"The new building is laid out in such a way that a student's visit will flow much more easily, and they can find their way with ease," Collitt said. "All of our services will be in the same building, and most commonly used services will be on the same floor." Previously, she added, students may have had to find their way through the maze-like layout of Ritenour and then walk outside to Boucke Building to complete insurance paperwork.

The new building will have 60 exam rooms and will run more like other modern medical facilities, Collitt said. Shorter wait times may result since a patient can get ready in one room while the doctor is seeing a patient in another.

Students will each be assigned to a team made up of Health Services staff members, and they will see the same clinician or another team member each time they visit University Health Services, giving better continuity of care.

There will be four teams of clinicians and nurses, two on each floor.  "That's something that never would have worked in Ritenour because we don't have that kind of space or flow," she said.

"And it's going to be a really bright, inviting and healthy space," Collitt added. Most of the waiting areas face a wall of windows. The building is LEED certified, which means it was constructed using environmentally responsible building practices. The roof is even green — it will be planted with grasses that help absorb water runoff and reduce heating and cooling costs.

UHS encourages Penn State students, staff, alumni and the general community to visit the new Student Health Center. An Arts Festival Invitational, to view the new building, and a Student Affairs art exhibit will be on display this summer (beginning July 9). An open house will be held Wednesday, Sept. 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. “Wellness Week” will be held Sept. 8-12 to help students become familiar with services in the new building. The health center's official dedication will take place Thursday, Sept. 18.

For a complete listing of upcoming events at the new Student Health Center, visit

  • IMAGE: Libby Moyer

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 23, 2020