Five questions for Stephanie Hanenberg

Staff Council chair has healthy goals in mind

Stephanie Hanenberg, executive director of health services at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and chair of the University of Colorado Staff Council, has remained close to home in pursuit of her passions – helping others and enjoying the state’s amenities.

Born in Colorado Springs, she earned her degrees at Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and worked at high school-based clinics before taking a job at UCCS.  Oversight of health services at a university has presented Hanenberg with some unique issues. As a family nurse practitioner, she sees patients, but spends much of her time around educational outreach, working with the counseling center and public safety to help struggling students, and keeping the entire university population healthy through events such as a yearly health fair.

She is a board member of the Rocky Mountain College Association, a booster co-chair for university athletics, and recently finished a term as president of the Professional Exempt Staff Association. Twice a month she works with CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates – to supervise parenting time in a court setting.

“I actually wanted to be a social worker when I was in high school, but when I found out more details about it, I thought that, emotionally, I wouldn’t survive it and probably would become too attached to people,” she said.  Her mother worked at Memorial Hospital and she had been a volunteer there in her early teens; those experiences helped influence her career decision.

1. What are some of the goals you have for health services at the university?

I have been focusing on getting the word out about the health center because we have a large commuter population and, unfortunately, many students don’t realize we’re here. One of my biggest goals is to make sure people know they have access to affordable health care. We’re also educating the campus by sending out messages on preventative measures. We’ve already had a lot of illness this year and we want students to understand what they can do to prevent the spread of infection.

2. How is health care on the college campus different from care in other segments of the population?

I do a lot of outreach to educate students because they get a lot of health information from their peers and it’s not always correct. In addition, our campus population is different from most because we don’t have mandatory insurance so we have a lot of uninsured patients. We have to be creative in how we provide health care because they might not have the money to fill a prescription or pay for the diagnostic imaging we want. We have to get creative about finding ways to treat them by staying within their budget.

As the student population on campus grows, we see more and more mental health issues – anxiety and depression – and sexual health always is a hot topic. They get so much misinformation and they come to the center to be responsible about their choices.

3. Why do you believe Staff Council is important to the university and what are some of the most pressing issues it faces?

Staff Council acts as a voice for employees so they can be heard by leadership and the Board of Regents. As council members, we want to make sure we use a good communication process that gets the information out to them. We want to make sure we listen to employees but also educate them about what the university is able to do and what’s more of a state issue. Part of our plan for next year is to work on communication with employees and to develop surveys to get more feedback on what would be helpful for them as well as feedback that needs to be shared with leadership.

Because of budget cuts, we haven’t been able to have professional development programs and employees would like to start doing that again. We hope to network among the campuses to find good speakers for future programs as well as figure out the best ways for staff to be able to attend those programs.

4.  You seem very busy with both university and community work. How do you unwind?

I love to boat: My favorite place is Navajo Reservoir by Durango, but we also go to Pueblo Reservoir or John Martin Reservoir and hang out on the water or water ski, wake board and tube. I also love to camp and snowmobile. I love sporting events and have Broncos season tickets. I got to go on the field the other night!

5. What are some favorite memories of your time at CU?

Personally, I have a few students that I’ve seen that have had some mental health issues who actually were able to complete school and graduate and be successful. When they first came to see me they were not in very good shape, so it’s very rewarding to know that someone you’ve helped has been able to accomplish their goals.

Our campus -- as a community – is a pretty amazing place to work. The cooperation surrounding the Waldo Canyon Fire was a perfect example of how everyone stepped up to help. Everyone put things on hold to take care of our community – the Colorado Springs community and the UCCS community. Even though we’re short-staffed, that kind of environment is one of the reasons why all of us work here.