(Pictured left to right) President Jeffrey Herbst, Shannon Hanby, Erin Murray ’13, Thad Mantaro, and Mark Thompson cut the ribbon on the Shaw Wellness Institute’s new offices in the Cutten Complex.

For the Shaw Wellness Institute, homecoming weekend held a special meaning.

Faculty, staff, students, and university trustees dedicated the institute’s new home in the Cutten Complex on Friday, October 12, kicking off Colgate’s homecoming festivities with a tribute to healthy lifestyles. The space is a crucial step in the development of the institute, which is named in honor of its lead donors, Jay ’76 and Debi Shaw.

Located on the residence hall’s ground floor, the venue features staff offices as well as rooms for biofeedback and meditation. Community members can gather for meetings in a central presentation area or take advantage of the institute’s library of books and periodicals.

Colgate launched its original wellness initiative through the dean of the college office in 2004. Two years later, an initial gift from the Shaws allowed counseling center director Mark Thompson and student health services director “Doc” Merrill Miller to offer new programs and resources to help students make wise choices on everything from alcohol consumption to sexual health.

The Shaws’ second gift, made in 2011, officially inaugurated the Shaw Wellness Institute. With institute funds, Colgate hired Thad Mantaro as director, Shannon Hanby as program assistant, and five student interns. The crew has been working nonstop, coordinating with offices around campus.

“We act as a clearinghouse for all of the ways that wellness is expressed,” said Mantaro.

Mantaro and his staff have helped plan yoga and back-health classes through human resources, educational outreach through Active Minds and the counseling center, sustainability programs, and more. In the future, they plan to focus on behavioral health through biofeedback training, smoking cessation programs, stress-management initiatives, and partnerships with the university’s alcohol and drug services staff.

“I see the institute as a place that links many of the university’s offices,” said President Herbst, “so that, while they continue with their individual missions, they are pointing in the same direction, and we can leverage their synergies in important ways.”

Because of the rising cost of health care, the promotion of healthy living has become an economic priority for the university. It has also woven itself into Colgate’s identity: This is one of America’s fittest campuses — a residential liberal arts university where community members, living and working together, can encourage each other to make informed lifestyle choices.

Just as the institute has given a cohesive shape to Colgate’s various health-related activities, the newly opened space provides a central location.

“I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Shaws and everyone who has worked together to make this vision a reality,” wellness intern Erin Murray ’13 of Chatham, N.J., told the audience. “This program, although in its infancy, is having a real impact on the student body and the Colgate community.”