Counseling Center: New Director and the Wait List Continues


Illustration by Migdalia Valdes.

Kenise Brown, Editor-in-Chief

NJCU’s Counseling Center has big changes this semester as the former director, Abisola Gallagher-Hobson has retired. An interim consultant has been appointed while the waitlist is ongoing. 

There are four students currently on the waitlist. In December 2020, Hobson said it was 13, “…Instead of our usual 50-60+. This reduction is consistent with what is being experienced in university and college counseling centers around the country, due to the pandemic,” Hobson said.

When asked if there are concerns about the center, Hobson said. “The major concerns that are ongoing: not enough staff to serve students and what will happen with the center because of the dire financial situation of the university. 

In addition, Dr. Jennifer Mullan has departed to pursue a different career path, and the center remains understaffed. 

As Hobson and Mullan are no longer a part of the center, there will be only two full-time counselors and one part-time counselor, including the director assisting students. 

Since 2018, Hobson has said that the center is supposed to have five and a half counselors for a public university like NJCU. 

Dr. John Sherry will now be in charge of the center as a supervisory Clinical Consultant until May. Sherry has worked at the center from 1996 to 2008. In 2000, he served as the Associate Director and developed the Peers Education Peers Program.

Sherry shares how he plans to handle the waitlist at the center, “Currently there are very few students on the waitlist, but as the semester picks up and students are dealing with all the stressors of life, including COVID-19, we expect our waitlist to increase.  As things develop, we will come together as a group and creatively think of ways to meet the needs of our students.  We will be continuing to operate the Let’s Talk program that we started a couple of semesters ago to provide opportunities for students to meet with a counselor for a brief informal consultation regardless of the waitlist.”

Sherry continues, “My plan is to provide as much support as possible to the counselors that are currently there while discussing options for the future. They have experienced an immense amount of change and loss recently—two long-term, beloved colleagues have moved on with Dr. Gallagher retiring and Dr. Mullan resigning. In addition, overnight they went from seeing clients face-to-face to seeing all their clients virtually by phone or video.  They are also experiencing the personal impact that COVID-19 and the national climate and painful impact of racism on them and their families. The counselors are extremely skilled and have been front line mental health workers, it is important as the clinical consultant to the center that I listen to their needs and meet them in the best way possible with the resources that are available to us.”

Before his return to NJCU, Sherry has held an academic position and is  among others who developed a clinical training center at another institution, “I am in a unique position to bridge the academic side of the university with Student Affairs to better meet the psychological, academic, social, and emotional needs of students as well as support the highly skilled counselors at the center.”

Sherry concludes, “My work at NJCU was one of my most rewarding accomplishments to date. I just loved the connections here, we worked as a team and people’s heart and souls were into the work. Although physically away, I never forgot those that supported me, mentored me, challenged me, and stayed with me during the low and high times of life. It is nice to leave a place feeling loved.”

For more information about the Counseling Center during COVID-19 click the following link,