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On loving and leaving UT

Connie Deutsch, the longtime director of HealthPoint, is retiring at the end of this month. She plans to travel more, but Deutsch isn’t your average tourist.

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She’s traveled the world and been a licensed psychologist for 35 years and still Connie Deutsch says she hasn’t seen it all.

In fact, she claims that the older and more experienced she gets, the more fascinating people get to her. But it’s time, she said, to embrace new challenges and fresh experiences beyond the 8-to-5 and the Forty Acres.

Deutsch has been the director of HealthPoint, the university’s employee assistance program, since 2001. She is retiring from the university. Her last day on the job is March 31.

In her time at the university, Deutsch has been involved in the creation of a number of significant university policies, initiatives and human resource efforts, including the staff emergency fund, the Prohibition of Violence Policy, the Fitness for Duty policy and the Threat Assessment Team and Behavior Concerns Help Line (BCAL). She’s also counseled patients and led staff.

“You see, she’s done a lot,” said Susan Harnden, who has been a clinical social worker at the university for 18 years and took part in Deutsch’s hiring. Harnden said she has admired Deutsch’s clarity and vision.

“[Connie] is a very kind hearted and supportive person,” Harnden said. “She really sees what people’s strengths are.”

In a campus-wide e-mail, Deutsch’s impact on the university was described as “immeasurable” by Julien Carter, associate vice president of Human Resource Services.

Once Deutsch retires, she said she will continue to work at her small consulting business, advising other businesses on issues related to mental health, mental illness and violence prevention in the workplace. And she’ll focus on her three main interests: reading, being a fun grandmother and traveling to isolated and unusual places.

Deutsch, an adventure-seeker, has been to Mongolia, Greenland, the Arctic and Antarctica, Morocco and European countries to name a few. In the fall she plans to travel to Tibet. Pictures from her trips cover the walls in her office: penguins about to plunge into frigid waters, landscapes and exotic people. Also on a table in her office is a pile of bright yellow foam stars, stress balls, which she calls the single best marketing tool of her trade.

Deutsch said she was attracted to the job at the university ten years ago because she wanted more variety. In her time here, she said she’s enjoyed working with everyone from associate vice presidents to physicists, mathematicians, grounds keepers and maintenance workers, people in the humanities and deans.

“I’ve worked in a lot of wonderful places, but this is the job that has challenged me the most and that I’ve loved the most,” said Deutsch. “And part of that is because of the university itself, and all the great people I’ve met. But probably the most important piece, is the staff of counselors that are here at the employee assistance program. They’re just outstanding.”