Dr. Alfred Weiner has a golden soul longing to help people.
After 51 years working at Ohio University’s Counseling and Psychological Services, Weiner said he will retire and that June 30 will be his last day.
Weiner served as the director of Counseling and Psychological Services for seven years. The university will conduct a nationwide search for the next director.
“I figured 51 years is a long time, and it's time to give somebody else a chance,” Weiner said.
Weiner said he became a psychologist because he has always felt he liked being in a helping role and a critical part of others’ lives. He said he came from a family of teachers.
“I can recall that I had an interest in what made people tick,” Weiner said. “I was the kind of kid whose friends with personal issues or problems would come to them to talk (their problems) out."
Weiner is from Brooklyn, New York, and he attended Brooklyn College for his undergraduate degree. For graduate school, Weiner said he attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
After completing an internship with a hospital in California, Weiner said he moved to Athens for his first job.
“I can still remember I had never been on an airplane until I came to my interview here,” Weiner said. “I came here and I thought to myself, 'Ah, Jesus. This is just like Amherst.'”
Weiner said 50 years ago people viewed their starting jobs as a destination — the place they would spend the rest of their career. Athens was his destination.
“When I came here, I was fortunate to come to a university that I really came to love,” Weiner said. “Why did I love it? The people I work with. I’ve really been fortunate to work with wonderful people.”
Inez Stanley-Linscott, CPS administrative specialist, has worked with Weiner for about eight and a half years. She said Weiner is caring and dedicated and makes everyone feel important.
“He’s always here,” Stanley-Linscott said. “I’ve come here on the weekend because I’ve left something, and he’s still working.”
Weiner said when he came into the world of university counseling, mental health care was just emerging. He said when he first started his career, there was a stigma about mental health. Through his years, he said he has seen the stigma fade as the acceptance for personal issues has developed.
“Through those first 30 years and stuff, counseling centers became a presence everywhere,” Weiner said. “College mental health began to emerge. What college students deal with is different when you’re 15 and when you’re 25.”
Weiner said during his 51 years, he never thought about leaving.
“I came for a job,” Weiner said. “The fact that I loved the people, Athens and the university, I didn’t. Nowadays, if I were to do it again and I realized how much I loved being a director and an associate director, I don’t think I would’ve stayed. I think I would’ve moved on and moved up.”
Weiner said his most challenging part of his job has been realizing he cannot make everything better for everyone.
“People go through things in life that I never had to experience,” Weiner said. “A lot of pain frustration, adversity, that have influenced them. You can’t wave a magic wand and say I wish you were born in a different house, that those things didn’t happen to you.”
Paul Castelino, associate and clinical director of Counseling and Psychological Services, said he met Weiner in 2005 when Castelino joined the CPS staff. He describes Weiner as having unceasing determination, uncanny wit and utmost loyalty.
Castelino said Weiner is a “walking history of CPS” and has been an integral part of the professional development of hundreds of mental health professionals.
Psychologist Rebecca Conrad Davenport said Weiner cares about both his staff and students.
“He is also the heart of CPS — he cares so much about each CPS staff member and this shapes the caring and supportive work environment for each of us,” Conrad Davenport said in an email. “He would move mountains to help one of his colleagues and the same goes for the students we serve.”
His success comes from his love for helping people and counseling, Weiner said. He said he decided to become director to "capstone” his career, but he still remains an active part in students' lives. Regular directors see about five patients a week, he said, while he sees about 10.
“The best part of the job has been what it has been the past 50 years,” Weiner said. “It’s being a meaningful part of people’s lives and helping people in a meaningful way. That’s still the best part. It’s an important part of who I am as a person.”