Jack W. Wheeler’s professional mission is to build environments that promote well-being. He is currently the Director of Wellness at Denison University where he supervises the newly constructed Hoaglin Wellness Center and where he leads the implementation of a cross-institutional strategic plan for well-being. Jack is a candidate for his Doctor of Social Work (DSW) at the University of Kentucky. His capstone project focuses on the implementation of campus-wide well-being initiatives. Lastly, Jack serves as the professional development chair for the NASPA Wellness and Health Promotion Knowledge Community. NASPA is a national organization for student affairs administrators in higher education.
Jack began his career as a psychology and social work double major at Bethany College, WV. While there he studied therapeutic rapport in wilderness therapy programs. He then completed his Master of Social Work (MSW) at The Ohio State University where he trained to become a certified clinical adventure therapist (CCAT) through the association of experiential educators (AEE). Following five years developing adventure therapy programs in community mental health settings in Columbus, OH, he returned to study for a PhD in social work at The Ohio State University. His research focused on the field of environmental social work, an emerging specialization that emphasizes the relationship between human populations and their spatial environments. He was particularly interested in how green space impacted long-term stress hormones. Jack has a published chapter in Social Work: Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability where he proposes a social work curriculum that builds environmental empathy. This was written to motivate future generations of social workers to address issues of environmental justice through their practice.
Before completing his dissertation at the Ohio State University, Jack returned to clinical practice at Denison University because of his passion for nature-based therapies and work in higher education. At Denison, Jack served as an individual therapist while building an adventure therapy program for college students. Despite initial interest in how students could benefit from time in nature, Jack’s focus shifted to how the larger socio-ecological environment of a college campus can help to address the mental and emotional well-being concerns that led many of his clients to seek counseling. Jack now uses his clinical skills within an administrative leadership role to support a campus environment that prevents mental distress through wellness promotion initiatives.
Jack resides in the beautiful, natural, and historic village of Granville, OH. He spends his free time hiking in the nearby forests with his family, restoring historic homes, and enjoying dinners out with his friends. When meeting Jack, be sure to ask about his favorite tree and be ready for him to ask you about yours.