Philadelphia, PA – It was 2016 when Dawn Soufleris, Ph.D., sought La Salle University’s next assistant vice president for student wellness. The search led Soufleris, the vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, to Kate Ward-Gaus, who at the time had directed La Salle’s substance, abuse, violence, and education programs.

Ward-Gaus wasn’t sure about her fit with the role.

“I kept thinking, ‘They need somebody with a doctorate for this,’” said Ward-Gaus. “I decided not to apply.”

The more she thought about it, Ward-Gaus realized she might be uniquely qualified for the position. After all, she maintained a decades-long association with Lasallian communities and, professionally, she holds a firm belief in a holistic approach to wellness, one that aligns with Lasallian values.

“I recognized what I brought to the table—a commitment to the Lasallian mission and my commitment to wellness,” Ward-Gaus said.

Ward-Gaus retired in January after nearly 15 years at La Salle University, the most-recent half-decade spent leading Student Wellness Services and, as of 2020, the Paul A. Stanton Department of Student Wellness Services. A native of West Philadelphia, where she still resides, Ward-Gaus has three children, including two La Salle graduates—daughters Jennifer, ’12, who earned a B.A. in communication, and Kathleen, ’06, who graduated with a B.A. in elementary and special education.

Under Ward-Gaus’ purview, La Salle prioritized student mental health as part of a holistic approach to wellness. Though she’s quick to categorize initiatives like the University’s telehealth option for student counseling as team efforts, colleagues have said the installation and execution of those programs benefited greatly from Ward-Gaus’ guidance and dedication.

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