Gregory Eells, the former head of Cornell’s Counseling and Psychological Services Department, died on Monday morning in Philadelphia, according to an email to faculty and staff by Vice President of Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi.
At Cornell, Eells oversaw a changing mental health department that grew into the modern iteration of Cornell Health during his 15 years as director of CAPS.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I write to you with the news that our friend and former colleague Greg Eells passed away unexpectedly this morning,” Lombardi wrote in the statement, provided to The Sun by Cornell’s media relations department.
James Garrow, the director of communications for the City of Philadelphia’s Public Health Department, confirmed that a city medical examiner had ruled the death a suicide.
An email to the University of Pennsylvania student body on Monday expressed condolences for Eells’ death.
Eells shifted between Ivy League institutions in the spring, departing Cornell for a similar post as the head of UPenn’s mental health services. Before his move, Eells said that it had been an “honor and privilege” to work at Cornell in a statement to The Sun.
“It is with a mix of sadness and excitement that I leave to take the Executive Director of CAPS position at the University of Pennsylvania,” he wrote.
Eells was a “transformational leader on student mental health, both nationally and at Cornell,” Lombardi wrote in the statement.
“Working with college students, I really began to see how working with people in that stage in their lives can really make a difference,” Eells told The Daily Pennsylvanian in February, before his tenure began.
He started his new job in Philadelphia in April, where he worked until his death.
Eells grew up in Salem, Illinois, and earned his Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Oklahoma. He gave several TED-style talks in the upstate New York area, and volunteered as an advisory board member at the JED Foundation.
The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors awarded him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 for his work on university healthcare systems.
Eells is survived by his wife and children.
Students may consult with counselors from Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-255-5155. Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 607-255-2673. An Ithaca-based Crisisline is available at 607-272-1616. For additional resources, visit caringcommunity.cornell.edu.