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UPenn psychological services head dies by suicide


Gregory Eells, the head of counseling and psychological services at the University of Pennsylvania, killed himself Monday morning, leaping to his death from the 17th floor of a building in Center City, Pa.

The well-regarded Eells, 52, had a long track record in the mental health field at various institutions and was considered an expert in resilience. He had been at UPenn just six months.

Medical Examiner’s Office spokesman James Garrow confirmed to multiple news outlets that Eells’ death had been ruled a suicide.

The university issued a brief, terse statement Monday afternoon.

“With sadness, we write to share the news of the sudden death of Dr. Gregory Eells, Executive Director of Counseling and Psychological Services,” UPenn spokespeople Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, Vice Provost for University Life, and Benoit Dube, Chief Wellness Officer and Associate Vice Provost, said in a statement obtained by The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Dr. Eells died this morning in Philadelphia. We extend our condolences to Dr. Eells’ family.”

Before UPenn, Eells had served more than a decade in a similar role at Cornell University, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Eells had replaced Meeta Kumar as executive director of UPenn’s counseling center, The Inquirer said. Kumar had been filling in since the retirement of nine-year veteran Bill Alexander, The Daily Pennsylvanian noted.

He seemed excited to be able to make a contribution in a new place, but his mother told The Inquirer he had been down because the job was harder than anticipated and he missed his wife and children, who had not yet relocated from Ithaca, N.Y.

In addition to his academic and counseling duties, Eells had also served over the years as president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, and as chair of the Mental Health Section of the American College Health Association, The Inquirer said.

The veteran mental health worker was brought on board after a spate of student and faculty suicides in recent years, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported.

Eells jumped from a building at around 6:40 a.m. Monday, police told The Inquirer. Eells did not leave a note.