Fall/ Winter 2020
A Ray of Hope
When thinking about a dean of students’ duties, we usually think of student conduct, student safety, school policies and procedures. However, many people don’t reflect on how those aspects may be affected when students cope with mental illness.
Michael Herdlick, Dean of Students and Director of Physical Plant at Tiffin University, prioritizes a student’s mental health and emotional well-being. In recognition of his tireless efforts and advocacy for students, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot counties selected Herdlick as the Ray of Hope Award recipient.
The Ray of Hope Award honors those dedicated to serving the needs of those affected by mental health conditions. The awardees have made an outstanding commitment to bettering the lives and giving hope to individuals, families or the community.
“We are extremely honored to present the Ray of Hope Award to Michael Herdlick,” said Julie Richards, Director of Counseling and Wellness at Tiffin University and NAMI board member. “Michael always puts students first and makes himself available for whatever they need. He is known to drop everything for a student in crisis and make sure they receive the appropriate care. He always prioritizes mental well-being and understands the impact of mental illness on a student’s life, especially during COVID-19.”
In March 2020, like many schools across the country, Tiffin University dealt with the challenges of COVID-19. Classes went virtual, and some students returned home as others stayed on campus in a safer environment. Through it all, Tiffin University, and particularly Herdlick, took care of their students.
“Unlike other institutions, we kept our doors open during the pandemic,” said Herdlick. “We worked tirelessly to ensure that students who needed to remain on campus could do so safely and comfortably. It was our duty and obligation to house, feed and provide them with services.”
Herdlick went above and beyond to help students feel secure and confident in uncertain times. “Mental illness knows no boundaries and can strike at any time,” he said. Many students across the nation dealt with sudden changes to their social lives and daily routines. These challenges brought feelings of sadness, anxiety and stress. “Although the world was changing, Tiffin University remained a constant in students’ lives. We provided additional support, and our students ended the semester resiliently.”
Taking care of students is something that comes naturally to Herdlick. For him, this field of work was a calling. Although he took a non-traditional path to his current role, with a background in math and chemistry, Herdlick enjoys every moment of his work in student affairs.
“Every day is a blessing,” he said. “I love what I do, and I have a great deal of gratitude to serve, mentor and protect our students. There are so many wonderful memories I cherish from attending sporting events, going to the movies, sharing meals and sometimes just sitting there in a hospital room for hours and listening. I am honored to be in their lives.”