The Appalachian School of Law is not a typical "sink or swim"
campus, but a place where the philosophy is to give second - even
third - chances.
That's why the school, set in rural Grundy, Va., let Peter
Odighizuwa return for a second year, after failing his first. It's
also why the faculty got together to buy him a car, after his was
totaled in an accident, and helped his children get into a local
Though many in the close-knit academic community seemed aware
that Mr. Odighizuwa was often troubled and angry, mental-health
services were a luxury the five-year-old law school could not
afford. And certainly, no one counted on the gun. Now he is charged
in this week's shooting deaths of the school's dean, a professor,
and a student.
The tragedy presents an acute side of a larger problem: how to
address mental-health problems on college campuses.
"One of the trends we have noticed over the last 10 years is an
increase of students with much more serious psychological problems,"
says Robert Gallagher, former director of counseling and student
development at the University of Pittsburgh. He oversees an annual
survey of campus counseling-center directors, now in its 20th year.
The challenge of inadequate mental-health services hit public
schools hard, after a wave of high-profile shootings in the 1990s.
Suddenly, school boards even in rural areas began putting more
resources into student counseling and security.
The issue is much less talked about on college campuses. But
experts cite many reasons for the growing mental-health caseload:
families that don't function, student drinking and substance abuse
that exacerbate psychological problems, and intense academic
pressure. After cutting counseling services in the 1980s, colleges
and universities began beefing them up in the 1990s to deal with the
Still, on many campuses, demand for such services is outstripping
these new efforts. To cope, many colleges reverted to "time-limited
therapy" - which restricts the number of sessions a counselor can
have with a student on campus - or simply referred students to
outside therapists. Those solutions are not meeting the need, says
At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which tried the
referral approach for serious problems, the administration said in
November it would significantly expand on-campus counseling services
to better oversee students feeling emotional and academic pressure. …