The NARBHA Institute James Wurgler MD Chair at Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University and The NARBHA Institute have partnered to create an endowed professorship that focuses on the intersection of criminal justice and behavioral health. During the celebration of The NARBHA Institute’s 50th anniversary of service to the community, NAU President Rita Cheng spoke about the partnership between the two organizations.

The NARBHA Institute is providing financial support to establish and endow The NARBHA Institute James Wurgler MD Chair of Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “This position recognizes The NARBHA Institute’s 50-year legacy of service in behavioral health, honors the Chairman of our Board of Directors, James Wurgler, for his contributions in medicine and civic service, and highlights the importance of behavioral health in the context of criminal justice in northern Arizona,” said Mary Jo Gregory, President and CEO of The NARBHA Institute.

The NARBHA Institute, in concert with the College’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, seeks to create an environment for experts in criminal justice and behavioral health collaborate with community partners in pursuit of innovations in practice, policy, and academics. The selected professor will bring expertise to the region that will align behavioral health and justice efforts, identifying opportunities to improve outcomes, such as reducing recidivism, through best practice behavioral health strategies and care for vulnerable members of the region.

“Health challenges and crime are linked through a mix of individual health and environmental factors, including mental illness, poverty, food insecurity, unemployment and homelessness,” said Karen Pugliesi, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “The NARBHA Institute James Wurgler MD Chair of Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health will collaborate with diverse partners to develop evidence-based approaches to improving access to behavioral health care and reducing contact with the criminal justice system.”

This endowment also is expected to enhance efforts within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences to promote thriving, resilient communities in the region and open new possibilities for collaboration that will ultimately benefit all citizens of northern Arizona.

A search process is under way to hire The NARBHA Institute James Wurgler MD Chair.