Get to know MSI Hub HBCU Coalition Member Karen M. Mathews, MD, MHA, FAAFP. She serves as the Executive Director of Health & Psychological Services in the University Health & Wellness Center at Central State University. In April, she led an incredibly informative session for the MSI Hub HBCU Coalition about HBCU student-centered mental health services and solutions that she and her team have implemented for students at Central State University for our HBCU Coalition meeting.

1. What is your connection to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)?

I have been working at Central State University for almost 12 ½ years. It wasn’t initially intentional. I was getting ready to retire from an Air Force career and was too young to stop working. I wanted to do something that involved prevention. The opportunity to interview at Central State as the Medical Director came my way, and I’ve enjoyed my work since. I have had the opportunity to help young adults lead healthy lifestyles. I feel invested in this work.

2. Why are you passionate about the work that you do?

I am passionate about the work I do because I feel, and actually know that, it makes a difference. Students and colleagues tell me that I have made a difference and there is a level of satisfaction that doesn’t compare with other job opportunities I’ve had. 

At Central State, there are a fair number of first-generation college students and often they may not have the preparation for college or know what to expect. Working here gives me satisfaction when I can spend extra time at our clinic with our students. We pride ourselves at Central State on the amount of counseling we do, and this is not just mental health counseling, but counseling about prevention of health conditions and medical management plans.

3. What can we do to scale this work?

Make sure that the great things HBCU leaders are doing gets publicized. Whether it is a newsletter CCPH publishes or elsewhere. In this fast paced world, I find if something is hand delivered (newsletter or social media), it’s in my face, and I don’t have to look for it. I love the coalition member spotlight section of the MSI Hub newsletter and think this is a great way to showcase talent and innovative ideas across members of the coalition.

If you have a resource that would be beneficial to the MSI Hub Community, share it here or send/forward an email to

Each month, CCPH will shine the spotlight on a Coalition member and their important work. We aim to help connect our network and share valuable information and resources with the community. Email us at to be featured.