UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Benjamin Locke has been named senior director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Penn State, effective Aug. 1. Locke will be transitioning to this new role after serving as associate director of clinical services for CAPS since 2011.
Locke will succeed Dennis Heitzmann, who served as senior director since 1984. Heitzmann stepped down as senior director to lead special projects in Student Affairs.
"The University Park campus has long benefited from an exceptional Counseling and Psychological Services operation, led extraordinarily well for decades by Dennis Heitzmann,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. “Yet the mental and emotional challenges faced by so many students have continued, and the need to provide effective resources in an environment with resource constraints remains. It is difficult to imagine a more experienced or knowledgeable mental health professional than Ben Locke, and I am grateful that he has agreed to take the baton as we continue to do all we can to expand the valuable services CAPS has provided to the University community for so long."
Locke has more than 19 years of clinical experience in a wide variety of mental health settings, including wilderness therapy programs, psychiatric hospitals, group homes, community mental health centers, and college counseling centers.
"I am deeply honored to be entrusted with this new role at Penn State University and to have the opportunity to build on decades of exemplary leadership from Dr. Heitzmann,” said Locke. “As I look toward the future of CAPS, I am genuinely excited to work with the entire Penn State community to improve the availability of student mental health services while also building a healthy and supportive community defined by respect and inclusion."
During his tenure at Penn State, Locke founded the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH), an international practice research network of more than 380 counseling centers. CCMH is now the largest practice research network on college student mental health in the world. As executive director, Locke facilitated the development of data standards for electronic medial record software and a proprietary data infrastructure to aggregate national mental health data.
Locke is also an affiliate assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education and the Department of Psychology at Penn State. He presents and consults widely about college student mental health in higher education and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on the topic.
Prior to his position as associate director, Locke served as assistant director of research and technology at CAPS from 2003 to 2011. He completed pre- and postdoctoral internships at the University of New Hampshire and clinical fellowships in psychology at Harvard Medical School. Locke earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in counseling psychology from Boston College and his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of New Hampshire.
CAPS, a unit of Student Affairs, provides individual counseling, group therapy, crisis intervention, and educational programing to thousands of students each year.