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Director of counseling services retires

After nearly 25 years, Assistant Dean and Director of Counseling Services Dorian Newton is retiring from Mills College in June 2015. 

Her staff and others who have worked closely with her over the years know Newton for her patience, kindness, constant support and belief in those around her. Many are sad to see her leave.

“She is amazing to work for,” Assistant Director of Counseling Services Jennifer Panish said. “The whole staff knows how lucky they are to work for someone so kind, smart and compassionate.”

Newton came to Mills in 1992 after finishing a two-year  post-doctoral fellowship at University of California, Berkeley Department of Psychiatry and working for five years as a staff psychologist. But after budget cuts affected counseling services, Newton decided to come to Mills.

“I really liked the idea of working in a much smaller college,” Newton said. “The students here are going to be the agents of social change. That is very exciting.”

Newton began as a staff counselor at Mills and a year later became the director of Counseling & Psychological Services and has overseen its growth which now includes a much larger staff, a well-known training program, double the amount of hours for private sessions and more direct connections with Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD).

The training program offers supervision and hours of hands-on training for pre-doctoral psychology students, from Mills and other schools, and paraprofessionals, which allows the department to double the amount of hours it can provide for students.

“I am who I am as a psychologist because of her,”  Panish, who went through the two-year training program, said.

Throughout her years at Mills, Newton always maintained her direct connection to the community by seeing students and sharing the on-call duty for the crisis line alongside Assistant Dean and SSD staff member Gabriella Tempestoso.

“Newton has the enviable ability to remain calm, cool and collected in crisis situations, which of course makes her an excellent therapist,” Tempestoso said. “I will certainly feel the loss of her expertise and assistance in any given situation.”

According to her staff, if anyone needs help, Newton is always there to take on their work or invite them into her office to talk.

“There was always a feeling that staff’s lives come first,” Panish said. “She always has work covered, and no matter how busy it gets, she is always there.”

Themy Adachi,  director of the athletics department and who has worked closely with Newton for many years, said that Newton did annual trainings for the department staff to help them recognize the signs of depression and other mental health issues. Adachi found it reassuring that if there was a crisis, or if one of the athletes needed help, Newton would be there. 

“She made herself available at anytime, on weekends and in the middle of the night,” Adachi said. “She was the one who, most of the time, was at the end of the emergency phone. It was such a relief to know that she was on the other end of the phone to help.”

Newton said she is sad to leave the place she has called home for the past two and a half decades.

“Some of the good byes will be very difficult,” Newton said.