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Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 4:46 p.m.

Director of the University Counseling Center resigns

Director of the University Counseling Center John Dages' resignation date is effective Dec. 30 of this year. File Photo

The director of the University Counseling Center abruptly resigned Thursday after facing charges from former employees of incompetent leadership and inappropriate professional behavior.

“Dr. John Dages has resigned from the university effective Dec. 30, 2011,” Dean of Students Peter Konwerski said.

After four out of nine full-time employees resigned between July and September citing strife with the leadership, the University created a five-month long improvement plan for director John Dages and associate director Barbara Brown. Administrators declined this week to comment on how the plan specifically addresses allegations that Dages’ leadership created a work environment that harmed student health.

Former employees claim the center has been mismanaged under Dages, who took the helm in 2009, and Brown, who was hired in 2004. One counselor said the “dysfunctional” work environment was caused by “indecisive leadership” and “hands-off management.”

A clinician – who left this spring after two years at the center and spoke on the condition of anonymity in late November because she still works in the counseling field – described Dages as “unprofessional,” citing his demands regarding workload, threats to fire staff, comments about personal lives and rare presence at the center.

A nationwide search for a new director will begin immediately, Konwerski said. Senior Associate Dean of Students Mark Levine will serve as interim director until a new director is hired.

  • Alumnus

    While I’ve never encountered Dr Dages in the context of the counseling center on campus, and therefore will not speak to that, I will say that he was a good Professor and that I truly enjoyed his developmental Psych class. Perhaps management isn’t his forte, and in that case it’s best for the university to have someone new in the position. I will say, however, that I think he was well liked and respected as a person and a professor in his classrooms, and that he did genuinely care about his students’ well being. Good luck to him in the future.

  • yet another former UCC staff member

    I am sorry that he is being given until 12/30 to leave the position. It is also interesting that Mark Levine, who played a part in John Dages being placed in charge of the UCC, will now have complete and direct control of the office. It appears that DOS no longer has to manage/deal with a middle-man to interfere with the UCC’s services to students.

  • Poor Journalist Skills

    I don’t consider giving a months notice being “abrupt”.

  • Pyro411

    Lauren French is a stone cold fox and a hell of a journalist.

    Dages announcement to resign is abrupt, however the end of his tenure is not. Let’s not mix words.

  • Former UCC staff

    I agree with “yet another former UCC staff member”. It was suspected in 2008 when Dages became interim director that he was purposely put in that position so that either 1) he would do whatever DOS requested of him and the center or 2) he would demonstrate to be so incompetent that the day would come when DOS would step in and lead the center instead. I can only hope that Brown is the next resignation on the table.

  • The Rose Colored Glasses Came Off as Parent of GWU Student

    The good news is.. You have uncovered a very negative situation that keeps the PRIDE of GWU non existent and layers of bureaucracy to hide agenda’s keeping GWU from Healthy Performance.

    The behaviors the investigations and commentators are describing on GWU Counseling Dept and specifically John Dages and Barbara Brown is “Domestic Violence” The Power and Control Wheel of intimidation is in abundance at GWU. Is very much instructed and controlled and ordered behavior right out of GWU Deans Office and SASS leadership…

    Why Mark Levine, Peter Konwerski, Tara Periera and Robert Chernak are not the people to be taking over any Dept as they caused the problems to begin with by not comprehending you cannot manage 23,000 students wellness and life on a campus in a crazy city with just 4 people in charge who do not have training or education in human student welfare and health.

    The red flag is these people behave in accordance with the power control wheel of violence. This wheel is standard behavior in every area of GWU & hospital via those in authority. “Why” is the big question ?
    http://mpdc.dc.gov/mpdc/cwp/view,a,1232,q,541187.asp

    This is the Wheel of Non Violence GWU should be operating on and has to change to for the welfare, health and protection of the student and a healthy sustainable effective campus.
    http://mpdc.dc.gov/mpdc/cwp/view,a,1232,q,541138.asp

    Please Be aware GWU Police Dept works for the self centered corporate ( non profit but still corporate) leadership at GWU. It is not a regular Police Dept. It is controlled by the University and answer’s to and even will lie to protect the University Corporation Not the students. GWU Police work for a(not4Profit?) corporation not your children.

    Having engaged with the GWU Police to educate them about the Domestic Violence a Student is experiencing via court documents from another state so the student could be protected on campus. The University Police and Administration preferred to go along with the male perpetrator verbal fabrications rather then looking at the physical court document evidence I a female Deaf Mom and only parent ever, has to educate them with.

    The shock for me was that these Men on GWU Police Dept have no idea what Domestic Violence is, how it works, nor even sexual violence.. Everything GWU puts on their website is empty words as no one has in depth training into what it is to protect the students. They operate under the Violent Wheel of Power and control above not the non violent wheel of equality that creates healthy growing positive sustainability for the students and campus.

    Every Parent has to wake up to realities their students living under at GWU. Given the GWU Police and investigators are themselves very intimidating and violent acting towards me a Parent.. If they are doing this to a adult.. What do they do young kids, especially a female girl ? Extreme lack of education and training that is geared towards protecting young people in a preventive whole person resourceful way is in the GWU Police Dept. Again GWU Police is just another ” Front” that is pervasive at GWU.

    The Positive News Is in this Day and Age now that the problem’s are being exposed, People who do live/work in Present Time in the 21st century of honor and Respect for one another that everyone has equal rights can be brought in to right this ship of GWU that has Tanked !

    Turn around of restructuring/rebuilding can happen quickly once the obstacles/people of mismanagement are removed. Evolution/Change is a good thing and is what keeps life fresh and growing.. Spring GWU Blossom’s New as a leading University, learning from mistakes of self deception, ignorance, fear, games of being a Corporation over the empowerment of a college.

    Expediting this will be quick by contacting President Knapp that to be Ethical ( which GWU is lacking ) he has to hire independent counsel to investigate Why this monstrous dysfunction in so many depts to do with families and students has occurred at GWU and get it cleaned up. Obviously needing to hire consultants from functional Universities to bring GWU up to speed. President Knapp (202) 994-6500

    My suggestion is former FBI director Louis Freeh Law firm in that he can do for GWU what he is doing for Penn State right now. Set up a 800# and email address for all who have dealt with GWU former employees, staff, students parents to have a independent voice, free of retaliation with anonymous means. A opportunity to be truthful of obvious irregularities they have witnessed in order to allow GWU to become functional and healthy. The counseling Dept is just one area of GWU wide deception going on. Truth is the Right of Every Person.

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