Westfield State University (also known as "Westfield" or "Westfield State") is a comprehensive, coeducational, four-year public university in Westfield, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1838 by noted educator and social reformer Horace Mann as the first public co-educational college in America without barrier to race, gender and economic class. Westfield State University is the most residential of public institutions of higher learning in Massachusetts.
Westfield State is located 45 miles (72 km) from Hartford, and 90 miles (140 km) from Boston, both of which have international airports. The nearest bus and train station is in Springfield. Approximately 50% of students have a car on campus. There are 13 other colleges and universities in proximity to the campus.
Westfield State University’s main 256-acre (1.04 km2) campus is located in a suburban neighborhood along Western Avenue and accessible via the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority bus system, which is free to on-campus residents. The campus is divided into four sections: North Campus, East Campus, Main Campus and South Campus.
The Main Campus is known for its centralized large campus green, tall pines, flowering trees, and seasonal landscaping. Nine residential halls, five academic buildings, one dining hall, an interfaith center, a power plant, the campus center and library encircle the green, where intramural sports and recreational activities are common.
Adjacent to Overlook Drive is East Campus, which comprises the Woodward Center (athletic facilities) and The Horace Mann Center (administrative and academic space). Across from East Campus is the 300-acre (1.2 km2) Stanley Park, which offers wireless internet access and is often used by the students. Student parking is at the South Campus and North Campus contains undeveloped wetlands, trees and vegetation.
As a major initiative, the university has begun establishing a presence in downtown Westfield that is a five-minute drive from the campus. Lansdowne Place is now housing upperclassmen at 38 Thomas Street and the Westfield State University Downtown Art Gallery has featured a variety of art exhibitions, since opening in the fall of 2008.
Westfield State University has a long and distinguished history that reflects the history of education in America. It is often called “The People’s College.” Retired WSU history professor, Robert T. Brown, wrote the first scholarly history of the Westfield Normal School, 1839-1914. "The Rise and Fall of the People’s Colleges" was published in 1988 by the Institute for Massachusetts Studies in Westfield. The following information is adapted from Brown’s work.
In Colonial America, school children would often spend more time working on their family farms than in the classrooms. When they did go to school, they were taught by very young schoolmasters, who really were not well-educated. Religious leaders argued that nothing could be done to improve schools until a better class of teachers were available and until teaching had become a profession like that of the ministry or medicine. There also had to be a distinct way of training them.
Educational inadequacies and concerns for the welfare of young children reached its peak in the early 19th century with reformers noting that before teachers could be improved, training schools and methodology of teaching had to be established. As early as 1784, New York State created a Board of Regents to improve the new country’s schools and by 1795 provided for an annual appropriation of $50,000 to be allocated to school districts. In Vermont in 1823, the first teachers’ seminary was opened in Concord, which was later moved to Andover, Massachusetts.
The Swiss educator Pestalozzi developed a way for teachers to study children and the learning process. This type of teaching was embraced by France and Prussia where schools for the training of teachers had been established. In France, they were called “normal” schools—for the basic norms of teaching. In 1835, the Massachusetts Legislature adopted this view and created the Common School Fund, whose monies were administered by the Board of Education.
Horace Mann, the Secretary of the Board of Higher Education, who from 1837 to 1848 was in charge of most everything to do with education in the Commonwealth, began a statewide public speaking tour to galvanize popular support for “normal schools.” Relaying his vision of how education would enhance economic opportunity, provide stability and create law and order, Mann spoke to the general public, parents, the working class, and the wealthy and preached to the religious leaders. He emphasized how education would be “a social equalizer” and turn unruly masses of children into civilized individuals.
In 1838, under Mann’s aggressive leadership, state funds were appropriated to match a $10,000 gift from Edmund Dwight of Boston to establish in Massachusetts the first state-supported institutions in the United States for the training of teachers for the “common schools.” He chose the sites of the schools, hired the staff, and outlined the curriculum.
Religious leaders played a strong role in Mann’s mission. Reverend Brooks met with Edmund Dwight, who was born in Springfield and who was one of the leading men of the Boston establishment. A newly appointed member of the Massachusetts Board of Education, Dwight had made his fortune in industry and was committed to many of the evangelical reformist principles.
In March 1838, Dwight approached Mann with an offer. He would donate $10,000 to improve the preparation of teachers if the legislature would match the sum. Mann quickly contacted the members of the legislature and won the acceptance and on April 19, 1838, Governor Edward Everett signed the resolve for a three-year experiment in qualifying teachers for the common schools.
On December 28, 1838, the Board established two schools—an all-female school in Lexington and another in Barre, which became the first coeducational public training school in the nation and the forerunner of Westfield State University. The first class in Barre consisted of 12 women and 8 men, who passed the entrance exams and were admitted.
A thriving village of 2,700 people, the town of Barre had a strong industrial base of cotton and woolen mills, a gunpowder mill and its biggest employer, a factory that made palm leaf hats. While Barre was able to live up to their financial agreement to the school, townsfolk were not prepared for the influx of normal school students and complaints were filed with the Board of Education. When the principal of the school’s health broke down, he missed the winter term in November 1841, and died soon after. This led to a failure of the Barre experiment and the school closed its doors in 1841.
Leading the effort to have the school reopened and relocated was Reverend Emerson Davis, pastor of First Congregational Church in Westfield and William Gelson Bates, a Westfield attorney and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In September 1844, Bates was instrumental in turning the tide within the Boston legislative bodies to have the school reopened and moved to Westfield. (Davis Hall is a dormitory named in his honor.)
One of the many arguments for the school to move to Westfield was the prosperity of the community. Westfield was a thriving industrial community and the largest settlement between Springfield and Albany. A canal connecting Westfield to New Haven, which was later replaced by a railroad, tied Westfield to Boston. It was also at this time that Westfield flourished as a center for the whip making industry and boasted successful tobacco growing and cigar-rolling businesses, powder mills, brick-yards and even an organ manufacturer. It was the ideal location for a normal school.
On September 4, 1844 the Barre school was reopened in Westfield and renamed the Westfield Normal School. In September 1846, a Greek revival building opened at the corner of Washington and School Streets to house the school.
Between 1854 and 1856, William Harvey Wells was principal. Wells had already established his reputation in educational reform and was the author of a major text on grammar and a national figure in philology. During his tenure, the Westfield Normal School began to grow and by 1856 there were 20 students in attendance.
John W. Dickinson, a four-year faculty member and strong advocate for educational reform, was principal from 1856 to 1877. He believed that teachers had a responsibility to mold students and lead them on a path of perfection, of life and citizenship. An advocate of child health including nutrition and exercise, Wells embraced the individualism of each student and often lectured on the nature of education. During this time, the school was a two-year school that also offered an additional two years of advanced studies. (Dickinson Hall is the dormitory named in his honor.)
The Civil War and the post-war financial panic of 1873, which ushered in an agricultural depression until the end of the century, had a tremendous impact on Westfield. The war caused the withdrawal of male students and an influx of black students, and soon it was established that the school could be multi-racial. Booker T. Washington utilized the Massachusetts normal schools as a place of instruction for the most promising pupils at Tuskegee Institute. His chief organizer in the North was Samuel Courtney, who attended Westfield Normal School from 1882 to 1885 and became a practicing physician in Boston and a respected member of the Boston School Committee. (WSU now has a dormitory named in Courtney’s honor.)
By 1887 the school building had deteriorated and a request by then principal, James Greenough, for a new building was proposed. This aroused the competitive interests of surrounding towns. Northampton and Springfield proposed relocating the school to their areas in hopes of giving their towns an aura of prestige and the economic benefits. Their efforts failed and a new sandstone three-story building was erected on Court Street in 1892, heralding a new era in the history of normal schools.
The new school featured laboratories for scientific teaching. The first floor housed a training school that began with two kindergartens and a primary class. By 1898 it had grown into a school with nine grades and a kindergarten that educated 165 students.
It was at this time that money was appropriated for improvements in other normal schools throughout Massachusetts and new schools were built. Increasing the number of schools by two-thirds initially reduced the enrollments of the rest of the schools and by 1874 Westfield’s out-of-county enrollment vanished.
Within a few years, the state enacted tough new entrance requirements. These new admission standards and modifications of the curriculum made it difficult for students to gain admission, eventually resulting in declining enrollment, plummeting it to the lowest enrollment since the school moved from Barre. The faculty revolted, resulting in the resignation of Principal Greenough.
When Charles S. Chapin arrived at Westfield as principal in 1896, he immediately began rebuilding the school and secured an excellent faculty, including noted marine biologist Charles Branch Wilson, for whom the university’s Wilson Hall is named. By the time Chapin left in 1901, the student body had doubled in size.
In 1900, a new training school was built on the site of the old normal school building. A full nine grades plus kindergarten would be housed in this building, run and staffed by the principal of the normal school. For the first time in the history of Westfield there would be ample opportunity to practice what the students had been learning.
In 1901, Clarence Brodeur became principal and served for 22 years. At the time, nearly half the students were commuters on the trolley line. No males were enrolled from 1897 to 1938. Most faculty earned only about $1,000 a year and faculty came and went due to the low salary.
During this time the Massachusetts Legislature, in response to an outcry for public education to meet the needs of modern industrial and social conditions, created a Commissioner of Education position. The Commissioner was empowered to implement a program, which would make the normal schools responsive to industrial needs.
Subsequently, many normal schools throughout Massachusetts introduced manual training including household arts, gardening, basket-making, chicken raising and the commercial arts. The resulting emasculation of the Westfield Normal School’s academic program in 1915 included reducing the nine science courses to only one, the abolishment of the four-year program, and having only 20 courses remaining in the curriculum: educational methods, sewing, physical education, penmanship, and methods courses. Money dissipated and the maintenance of the buildings started to decline.
By the time Charles Russell became principal in 1925, the school could not afford to have its catalog professionally printed and the Court Street building was unsafe for habitation. Russell’s accomplishments are many. He expanded community outreach, brought groups of visiting educators from abroad to the school to observe American methods and encouraged the faculty to think and act as professionals. In order to prepare students to teach at the junior high school level, he expanded the course of study from two to three years.
When all the normal schools were renamed state teachers colleges in 1932, it made it possible for them to now legally offer a four-year college degree. Unfortunately, this giant step enhanced the vulnerability of the school’s dependency on the economy and as the Depression deepened, teachers lost their jobs and enrollment declined.
Edward Scanlon, for whom the university’s Scanlon Hall is named, arrived on the verge of Westfield’s 100-year celebration and began his 22 years of fighting off legislative attempts to close the school. In 1928, Governor Leverett Saltonstall proposed closing Westfield and three other schools, arguing that there were more graduates than there were teaching jobs available. His proposal did not pass the legislative process, but it was recognized that fewer teachers were needed. This led to a proposal that Westfield become a vocational training center offering courses for machinists, toolmakers, dental and medical technicians. This proposed change died in the legislature.
When World War II broke out, the reputation of the whole normal school system sunk so low that Life magazine identified Massachusetts’ public higher education system as one of the worst in the nation. Again, there were legislative attempts to solve the problem by trying to close some of the schools, Westfield among them. Again there was rallying of supporters, which defeated closure plans in the House.
Yet in June 1953, the Westfield City Council voted to convey to the Commonwealth for $1 a tract of some 26 acres (110,000 m2) of city-owned land in upper Western Avenue as the site for a new $3,025,000 Westfield State Teachers College. The college opened its new home in 1956 with nearly four-hundred students. The post-war economy buried money problems.
For the next 20 years, Westfield would continue to expand its offerings and on May 24, 1968, the legislature voted to change the names of state teachers colleges yet again to recognize such growth. For the next 42 years the institution would function as Westfield State College.
Westfield State’s new Office of International Education is fostering partnerships with institutions of higher learning throughout the world in order to expand international study and exchange opportunities. New academic majors and a program of campus improvements to the college’s infrastructure has been undertaken including renovations and the addition of Mod Hall, a new office and classroom building.
The university has increased its focus on the greater community of Westfield, initiating community service projects and bringing area residents to the campus to hear speakers that have included Gloria Steinem, Greg Mortenson, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. A town-gown initiative has connected WSU with the City of Westfield, collaborating with City government and Westfield business and non-profit organizations.
In July 2010, both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate voted to change the state college system to a state university system, and to rename the six state colleges to state universities including Westfield. The measure was signed into law by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on July 28, 2010.
Westfield State University ranks first among Massachusetts state university peers according to criteria reviewed in the 2011 edition of “Best Colleges” published by U. S. News & World Report. The 572 universities in the category were not ranked nationally, but against their peers in one of four geographic regions. WSU placed in the “Regional University-North” category, reflecting the official Carnegie classification of universities whose highest degree is a master’s and of four-year colleges that specialize in professional as well as liberal arts degrees.
In a 2010 study on cost versus quality, MassINC, the Boston–based nonpartisan public-policy think-tank, reported that Westfield State ranked first among all Massachusetts public and private institutions. The study used measures of college cost-effectiveness – assessing colleges by graduation rate as compared to the cost of tuition, fees, room, board, books and supplies. MassINC reported that “given the relatively similar profile of incoming students to several other Massachusetts public colleges, the success of students obtaining their attempted degree (at Westfield State) is phenomenal.”
In 2012, WSU was ranked fourth nationally by US News in their Best Online Programs Honor Roll. The rankings were based on factors such as graduation rates, indebtedness of new graduates, and academic and career support services offered to students. The Faculty Credentials & Training rank was #1 in the country, with a score of 92.6 on a 100-point scale and 11th in Student Services & Technology.
Administration and Organization
President Evan Dobelle is the day-to-day chief executive of the university, appointed by and responsible to WSU’s Board of Trustees, a group of 11 community and regional leaders, currently chaired by Kevin R. Queenin, Class of 1970, and President of Specialty Bolt & Screw Inc. He is assisted by a Cabinet, composed of the Executive Assistant to the President, the Dean of Diversity and Affirmative Action, and five Vice Presidents, who oversee Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Advancement and University Relations, Administration and Finance, and Enrollment Management.
The longest standing forum on campus, the Student Government Association (SGA) consists of a 75 member legislature elected by the student body and an 8-member executive council, which represent each class and residence hall, commuters, WSU’s multicultural community and alumni and work in the interest of academic and social concerns.
A faculty of 222 tenured and tenure-track faculty members in 24 departments serves 4678 undergraduates. Eighty-five percent of the faculty hold terminal degrees in their fields and the student-faculty ratio in the day division is 18 to1. Fifteen percent of the faculty are persons of color.
Current statistics provide an interesting view of the student body. According to the registrar, of the 4678 undergraduate students, 51% are women, 49% are men and 2866 students live in 10 residence halls.
Financial Aid Office statistics for 2009-2010 note that 80% of undergraduates received some type of financial assistance including federal grants and state and institutional aid. Sixty-eight percent received a student loan; 148 scholarships totaling $572,412 were awarded and 342 students earned $458,260 through Federal Work Study. Seventy-seven percent of 2008 graduates secured employment within three months of graduation.
The WSU Office of Institutional Research reports that of the 1139 first year students who entered day or evening divisions in the fall of 2010, the composite verbal and math SAT score was 1020. Their average high school G.P.A was 3.0. Twenty-five percent of the 2010 freshman class was in the top 25% of their high school class (58% reporting) with 72% in the upper half of their high school class. Seventy-nine percent of first year students from the class of 2009 returned for the fall semester of 2010.
The university’s Urban Education Program, which functions as the school’s primary recruiter of high school students from diverse educational, linguistic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, reports that 93% of first-year students served are from Massachusetts, while 37% of them are the first in their family to attend an institution of higher learning and 91% received financial assistance.
As of fall 2010, 131 faculty members serve 126 undergraduate and 139 graduate students in the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education.
Westfield State employee fall 2010 rosters listed 607 employees, representing 221 faculty members, 197 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), 145 administrators and 40 non-unit professionals, 15% of whom are persons of color.
Westfield State University has received accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. In addition, its teacher licensure programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Educator Preparation and Quality. The Athletic Training program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE); The Health Fitness program by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Social Work program by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Its music program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), while the Computer Science program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). WSU has also been designated as a Commonwealth of Massachusetts-accredited Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training institution.
Full and part-time programs lead to undergraduate bachelor’s and advanced degrees, including: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science, (B.S.), Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.), Bachelor of Special Education (B.S.E.), Master of Education (M.Ed.), Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.), Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (C.A.G.S.).There are 31 undergraduate majors, 34 minors and 43 different concentrations at Westfield State University. New undergraduate majors include Nursing, Athletic Training, Spanish and Ethnic & Gender Studies and the newest graduate degree, a Master of Social Work. The most popular majors are Criminal Justice, Business Management, Education, Psychology and Communication.
The Honors Program is designed to provide academically motivated students with intellectually challenging courses from an interdisciplinary perspective and/or with a specialized topical focus.
Honors classes are limited to 15 to 18 students with coursework that emphasizes greater interaction with classmates and the professor, more writing and discussion, and independent study. The honors experience extends beyond the classroom and often includes attendance at special events, receptions with guest lecturers, field trips to cultural events, participation in conferences, and informal gatherings to provide students with opportunities to socialize and learn. In addition, the university provides designated honors housing
Incoming first-year students with a minimum high school GPA of 3.5 and combined SAT scores of 1150 may be considered for participation in the Honors Program. Other factors that are predictive of academic success may be considered. Transfer students who graduate from a Commonwealth Honors Program at a community college are guaranteed admission to the program.
The Honors Program at Westfield State University enriches the educational experience of students in the program by promoting intellectual growth and nurturing student-faculty relationships. As part of the Honors Program, WSU students graduate with College Honors or Commonwealth Honors. Along with select honors courses offered each semester, honors students are offered other academic and social opportunities such as priority registration and access to special events both on-campus and off.
The Honors Center is located in the Honors Department in Mod Hall.
Westfield State University’s Division of Graduate and Continuing Education offers a variety of master’s degrees and graduate certificates. Classes are offered on-campus and/or online. Graduate study, post-baccalaureate teacher licensure, and community education courses are offered; in addition, several certificate programs, including a graduate certificate in homeland security. Classes are offered during the day, evening, one winter session and two summer sessions.
Master’s are offered in English, Applied Behavior Analysis, Mental Health, School Guidance (Pre-K-8 and 5-12), Public Administration, Accountancy, Criminal Justice and Social Work.
Initial Teacher Licensure Degree Programs are offered in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Special Education Secondary Biology, Secondary Chemistry, Middle School General Science, Secondary and Middle School History and Secondary and Middle School Mathematics, as well as Licensure programs for Reading Specialists and Principals in Elementary, Middle and Secondary Schools.
WSU also has Professional Licensure Degree Programs including those in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Physical Education, Secondary Biology, Middle School General Science, Secondary and Middle School History and Secondary and Middle School Mathematics.
Non-Licensure Degree Programs include Early Childhood Education, Educational Administration, Elementary Education, History, Vocational Education, Secondary Education and Special Education. There is also a Certificate Program of Advanced Graduate Study (C.A.G.S.) in Educational Administration and School Principal Programs.
Established in 2004, WSU’s Center for Teacher Education and Research (CENTER), works to further develop the connections between Westfield State University and its K-14 partners. Superintendents, principals and/or teachers, look to the CENTER as a resource for teacher education and professional development. The CENTER is located on the second floor of Juniper Park School. The resource room is open every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
The CENTER at Westfield State University recently collaborated with Gateway Regional School District, the lead school district, to acquire a one million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE). The grant, titled “Memorializing Promise and Conflict: A Monumental History of American Democracy,” is part of the federal Teaching American History (TAH) program which helps area school districts to improve history teaching in grades 7 through 12 with innovative programs and new technology. It is significant to note that The CENTER has successfully directed and implemented TAH programs since 2005, bringing $4 million in TAH funds to the region. This is the fourth TAH grant it has received and administered.
Other CENTER programs include:
Science Grant - MMSP - a federally funded, state-run grant program that provides inquiry-based science professional development in partnership between the Gateway Regional School District, Holyoke Public Schools, Easthampton Public Schools and the CENTER.
Full Release Mentor Training - a program done in collaboration with the New Teacher Center from Santa Cruz. This program works with veteran teachers on the skills necessary to support beginning teachers both in the day-to-day teaching duties and the growth of their teaching skills.
Mentor Training - Each summer the CENTER provides foundational training for those teachers who work with beginning teachers in their districts.
Ongoing courses and workshops for educators - the CENTER continues to offer a variety of credit and non-credit courses and workshops for principals, teachers, school nurses and central office administrators. These are held as week-long workshops during the summer, full-day and after school workshops during the school year, and some on-line training.
University Support Services
Opened in fall 2010, the Banacos Academic Center is the home to three academic resource programs including Westfield State’s Tutoring Center, Disability Services and the Learning Disabilities Program.
The University offers a supportive, understanding, academic setting where students with learning difficulties can flourish. A professional learning assistant is assigned to each first-year program student. Learning assistants teach students to master their individual learning strengths and assist students in becoming fully independent learners. The services available include: test accommodations, reader/scribes for examination, individual tutoring, academic advisement, early registration for classes for first-year and second-year students, access to Kurzweil 3000 scanner/readers and other assistive technology. Also provided is professional assistance with academic skills, time management and self-advocacy, note takers for classes, an extended course withdrawal policy and phonic ear assistance.
The TRiO Student Support Services Program (SSSP) is a U.S. Department of Education federally funded TRiO program providing ongoing support throughout a Westfield student’s university career. SSSP offers eligible participants free, comprehensive academic and personal support designed to assist with persistence to graduation and preparation for graduate or professional school. Westfield State was recently awarded a grant of more than $1.3 million by the U.S. Department of Education to help first-generation college students, students with financial need and students with disabilities complete their education.
The retention and recruitment of first-generation university students from diverse educational, linguistic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, comprises the primary focus of the Urban Education Program which is designed to provide academic and personal counseling support to program students. The basic offerings of the program include: coursework with a strong emphasis on research methods, expository writing, time management, critical thinking and analytical skills; structured workshops on computer applications, hardware and basic programming; tutoring in all areas of the university curriculum; personal, academic and career counseling; financial aid assistance; and, opportunities to learn and grow in a university atmosphere that is sensitive to the wide range of obstacles that confront ethnically and educationally diverse students.
There are nine on-campus and one off-campus housing options and over 75 active student recreational, social and academic clubs and organizations. Popular recreational choices are choral groups, concert band, drama/theater, jazz band, literary magazine, music ensembles, musical theater, pep band, radio station, student government, student newspaper, television station, and the Tekoa yearbook.
Numerous programs of activities are provided by the honor societies at Westfield, they include: Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice), Kappa Delta Phi (Education), Lambda Iota Tau (Literature) Lambda Pi Eta (Communication Studies), Lambda Sigma (college service), Phi Alpha Theta (History), Phi Kappa Phi (superior scholarship in all disciplines), Pi Delta Phi (French), Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science), Psi Chi (Psychology), Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish and Hispanic Culture), and Sigma Xi (Science and Engineering).
The Ely Campus Center houses the Library, Arno Maris Art Gallery, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Ely Studio Theatre, Communication department, Theatre Arts department, the Student Government Association and Third World Room. It also accommodates The Westfield Voice (the student newspaper), WSKB (the campus radio station), WSC-TV (the campus television station), Jazzman’s coffee bar, a Subway franchise, the Wellness Center, several Student Affairs offices and a student lounge called The Perch, which features student activities from concerts to film screenings.
WSKB is the student-run Westfield State radio station. Equipped with current technology, the station broadcasts a variety of programs. The university is working to expand WSKB offerings to include community programming.
WSU’s student newspaper, The Westfield Voice focuses on news that directly affects students. It is published weekly during the academic year.
WSC-TV provides an on-campus, student-operated television station that serves as both a learning environment for students interested in television programming and as a campus information service to resident students who subscribe to cable television. The state-of-the art studio is also available to community groups who wish to produce programs for Channel 15, Westfield’s community television station that is a collaboration between the City of Westfield and the university.
Channel 15 programming includes One on One, a series hosted by President Dobelle featuring interviews, with such national and regional figures as former US Secretary of Education Richard Riley and the legendary neuro-pediatric surgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson. Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik, State Representative Don Humason and Westfield on Weekends, an area non-profit group, also produce monthly shows.
Now in its fiftieth year, the award-winning, Emmy-nominated quiz show “As School Match Wits” is an academic competition featuring the region’s top high school students. Created by Westfield State alumnus Leonard Collamore, the program is produced by WSC-TV in association with WGBY, Springfield’s local public television station with a crew composed of students from the university. The show airs weekly.
The Woodward Center is the hub of athletics, sports-related academics, and community fitness at Westfield State University. Named after the university's 17th President, Fredrick W. Woodward, the center opened in the summer of 2004. This $18 million facility was a result of a combined effort of private/public partnership and Westfield State University's capital campaign.
The Woodward Center is an 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) facility that features an expansive field house. The 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) field house is large enough to hold an official NCAA track and field meet. It includes a four-lane track (six lanes on the straightaway), and areas inside the track for jumping, pole vaulting and throwing events. The field house has three full-length basketball courts, with the main performance court providing seating for 1100, and a rock climbing area. When the university hosts its popular Speaker Series event, the field house is transformed into an auditorium-like setting.
The first floor of the Woodward Center is a first-class athletic training facility with a fitness center, equipment room areas, and locker room space for each varsity team. Located on the second floor are a student lounge, a spacious aerobics/dance studio, four classrooms as well as exercise physiology, biomechanics, and motor learning laboratories, a multimedia computer lab, conference rooms, and office space for Westfield State's Athletic and Movement Science departments.
Westfield State University received the prestigious Howard C. Smith Cup from the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference in the spring of 2010 in recognition of the best athletics program in the state – the ninth time that the program has received such an honor.
At Westfield State, 21 varsity teams compete in Division III of the NCAA, representing 10% of the student body. The Westfield State “Owls,” with their mascot, “Nestor” meet the competition in the blue and white colors of the university.
The varsity intercollegiate teams for fall are Field Hockey, Women's Cross Country, Women's Volleyball, Women's Golf, Women's Soccer, Football, Men's Cross Country, Men's Golf, and Men's Soccer. Winter teams include Women's Basketball, Women's Indoor Track and Field, Women’s Swimming and Diving, Men’s Basketball, Men's Ice Hockey, Men's Indoor Track and Field, and Coed Cheering. The spring teams are Softball, Women's Golf, Women's Lacrosse, Women's Outdoor Track and Field, Men's Baseball, Men's Golf and Men's Outdoor Track and Field.
More than 50 percent of the students at Westfield State University participate in the intramurals program. Sports include: The Banacos Memorial Road Race, billiards, dodge ball, flag football, floor hockey, golf, indoor soccer, ping pong, racquetball, sand volleyball, soccer, softball, sports trivia, ultimate Frisbee, wallyball, water basketball, water polo, wiffle ball, and volleyball.
The Club Sports program offers Westfield State University students the opportunity to participate in non-varsity intercollegiate athletics competition, recreation and instruction. Club sports are recognized as student organizations.
In addition to nine Smith Cups, the Westfield Owls hold MASCAC titles in Football, Volleyball, Women’s Soccer and Men’s and Women’s Cross Country. Westfield’s varsity teams have won nine conference championships and participate in NCAA and ECAC tournaments.
The university’s Men’s and Women’s Track & Field teams are nationally-recognized, with 40 All Americans, 148 national qualifiers and 12 straight conference titles between them. The Women’s Cross Country team has won five straight MASCAC crowns.
The Woodward Center is located next to the Alumni Field, which is the site for many of the university's intercollegiate and intramural outdoor activities. The artificial surface playing field has lights and is encircled by an eight-lane running track, named in honor of former track coach Jerry Gravel. Baseball, softball and grass practice fields surround Alumni Field.
Additional indoor facilities on the main campus include a swimming pool and an expansive Wellness Center, both located in the Campus Center. A gymnasium with a full-length basketball court is located in Parenzo Hall.
Campus and Community Programming
Westfield State has a wide variety of community and campus programming throughout the year, including musical and theatrical performances, art exhibits, lectures and film screenings.
The Distinguished Speakers Series brings a variety of national and internationally known authors, politicians, scientists and performers to the university. Past speakers have included historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, social critic/author Christopher Hitchens, actor Danny Glover, statesmen Zbigniew Brzezinski, therapist Ruth Westheimer, arts critic and columnist Frank Rich and entertainer Jon "Bowzer" Bauman. The 2010-2011 series includes attorney Alan Dershowitz, historian Taylor Branch and researcher/author Rebecca Skloot.
The university’s Guest Lecture Series features daytime and evening lectures and performances, chosen by members of the faculty and staff. The 2010-2011 series features poet Josephine Dickinson, a screening and discussion of the film Soy Andean (I am Andean) with filmmaker Mitchell Teplitsky and author/sociologist Timothy Blank.
In conjunction with the English Dept. the university's Theatre Arts concentration produces two major productions each year in the Ely Studio Theatre. Its 2010/2011 season includes a staged production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Past productions have included Molière's Tartuffe, John Gay's The Beggar’s Opera, and Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard.
The Student Theatre Association (STA), a student club sanctioned and funded by the university’s Student Government Association, was formed in 2005 and is associated with the Theatre Arts Program. STA produces a mainstage show each year. Past productions have included Peter Shaffer's Black Comedy, William Saroyan's Hello Out There and Jean-Claude van Itallie's Interview.
The oldest running club at Westfield State University is the Musical Theatre Guild, which is a student run group that puts on a musical every semester.
The university has two galleries, which present on-going exhibits throughout the year. The Arno Maris Gallery, named in honor of the artist and former professor at the university, is located on the second floor of Ely Hall, adjacent to the Ely Studio Theatre, while the Westfield State University Downtown Art Gallery is housed in the historic Rinnova Building in the downtown campus at 105 Elm Street.
Westfield State's galleries offer the work of local, regional and national artists, as well as shows displaying the work of student artists. Past exhibits have included the work of sculptor Tom Patti, illustrator Barbara Nessum, Jasmina Danowski and several WSU alumni including Arno Maris, Nevrotte Bedrossian, Diane Savino and John Smith, and American Masters from the Spanierman Gallery in New York City. The 2010-2011 season at the Downtown Art Gallery is funded with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
In the summer of 2010, WSU produced its first Masters Festival of the Arts, a collaboration of the Theatre, Music, Art and English Departments. The eight-week festival celebrated masters of the creative process with events on both the Western Avenue and downtown campuses. The season consisted of two plays by David Mamet (American Buffalo and Boston Marriage) produced in association with Actors Equity Association (AEA) and Actors Company, a professional acting company; a Jazz Weekend celebrating the music of Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk and a Classical Weekend featuring a cabaret of chamber music. Two art exhibits, produced in association with New York City’s Spanierman Gallery and a film festival honoring Alfred Hitchcock rounded out the festival. A second Masters Festival of the Arts is planned for the summer of 2011.
The Night Owls are Westfield State University's only a cappella group. The group performs concerts around Western Massachusetts, in addition to out-of-state performances, including competing in the prestigious ICCA's competition. The Night Owls perform a free concert in Dever Auditorium at the end of each semester.
Westfield State invites the community to the “Haunted House” at Halloween, “Breakfast with Santa” in December, Aviation Day, Community Service Day and many sports such as hockey (played at Amelia Park Ice Arena), football and track.
Academic Buildings on Campus
The Horace Mann Center, located across from Stanley Park at 333 Western Avenue, is the cornerstone of Westfield State University and houses classrooms and offices for professors and administrative departments as well as centralized services such as Admission, Financial Aid, and the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education. In addition, the Alumni Office, Marketing, Human Resources, Advancement and University Relations, the Criminal Justice department, and Community Education are located in the building which covers 36,000 square feet (3,300 m2).
Originally built to serve as the headquarters for Stanley Home Products, "Door to Opportunity" remains inscribed above the main entrance. The original $1.5 million project, contracted by the Fontaine Brothers of Springfield, was completed in 1970 and the grand opening was held on October 17, 1970. It was not until 1999, nearly 30 years after the original construction began, that the building was assimilated into Westfield State. Westfield State purchased the building for $2.365 million and reopened the facility to students and faculty on October 13, 2000. Renovations on behalf of Westfield State included a two-story glass lobby as well as new classrooms and administrative office areas². Originally referred to as "333”, the building was formally renamed The Horace Mann Center in 2009 to honor the founder of Westfield State University.
Parenzo Hall is the oldest academic building on the campus and is one of the original buildings abutting the green, along with Scanlon Hall and the original power plant. Initially, Parenzo Hall housed all of the university's classrooms and offices. Today, it contains a number of classrooms, academic departments, and administrative offices.
The university’s main performance space, Dever Auditorium is directly off the lobby of Parenzo Hall. Dever hosts a variety of student productions, visiting lecturers, programs and special events presented throughout the year.
Bates Hall is the second oldest academic building on campus. The building is home to most of the humanities academic departments. Its three floors contain a mix of classrooms and offices for faculty of the academic departments located in the building. The building is home to the English, History, Geography and Regional Planning, and Music departments. The Music department’s piano lab is located on the second floor and practice rooms are located in the basement and on the first floor.
Ely Hall (pronounced eelee) is located at the far end of the Westfield State University campus adjacent to Tim and Jeanne’s (Dining Commons) and Lammers Hall. It houses the campus center, offices, radio and TV studios and the library among others. It is named after the 52nd governor of Massachusetts and a Westfield native who was an advocate for public works and education. Currently Ely Hall is building a new basement which will house the new full service Dunkin Donuts. The project is estimated to be done by February 2013.  Originally constructed in the 1970s, the building underwent major renovations between 2008 and 2010. The project cost a total of $11.5 million and was completed in mid-February 2010. The building is fully wheelchair accessible.
Wilson Hall is one of the campus' largest academic buildings and was built in 1970. It was originally intended to be the science hall, and for the most part, remains so today with laboratories, classrooms, computer labs and departmental offices. A central open area on the first floor contains a large cafeteria lounge and Quixote's eatery.
Opened in September 1966 as part of a large expansion project. Renovations were completed in 2005, and new windows and flooring were installed in 2007. The buildings were named to commemorate Reverend Emerson Davis, and John W. Dickinson, two former principals of the Westfield Normal School.
Lammers Hall is located on the campus green near the Ely Campus Center. Sections are arranged in a square format with 12-14 rooms sharing a male and female bathroom, kitchen and lounge. The lobby has a pool table, television, foosball table and public restrooms. It was named for Professor Theresa Lammers, the pioneer of women’s athletic programs at WSU. Located in the Lammers Hall Annex is the Counseling Center, which provides psychological and substance abuse counseling to students; and the Office of Career Services which provides career planning assistance to students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Scanlon Hall, the oldest of the residential halls, was erected in 1956. Named after Edward J. Scanlon, WSU president from 1938 to 1961, it is located at the entrance to the main campus and was one of the three original buildings on the campus (along with Parenzo Hall and the original power plant). It is configured in a hallway layout with primarily triple rooms. Also housed in Scanlon Hall are the ‘Living Room’ meeting room and the campus’ largest banquet suite.
Courtney Hall was built in 1989 by the Massachusetts State College Building Authority. The third newest building on campus, it is located near the center of the WSU campus between New Hall and Lammers Hall. It was named after Samuel Courtney, an 1885 graduate, practicing physician and civil rights advocate and associate of Booker T. Washington, his longtime friend and colleague. It houses approximately 500 students and has double, triple, and quad rooms. In addition to the main lounge, each of the four residential floors has a student common room.
The Apartments are three separate apartment buildings that combine to make this semi-circular housing complex. The three halls: Conlin Hall, Seymour Hall, and Welch Hall were named in honor of three former deans of the university and are only available to upperclassmen.
New Residence Hall, built in 2005, is the newest of the residential buildings and houses upperclassmen. It offers three, four or six person co-ed apartments. Each apartment has a full kitchen, living room and one or two bathrooms. Classrooms, lounges, offices and a limited service Dunkin’ Donuts are located on the first floor.
Lansdowne Place located at 38 Thomas Street, is Westfield State’s first downtown student housing location. Steady growth in enrollment at the college has resulted in substantial demand for student housing. Selected and leased by the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) on behalf of WSU from FS Holdings Lansdowne, LLC, for 10 years, it will house upperclassmen.
Students began moving in on a phased floor-by-floor basis in fall 2010. Full occupancy (216 students) is expected by fall 2011. “The formal selection of a downtown student housing location is a creative approach that not only enables us to meet current student housing demand, but keeps this building on the City’s tax roll and contributes momentum to downtown Westfield’s revitalization efforts,” said President Dobelle at its opening.
University Hall, currently being built, and is expected to be finished by the 2013-2014 school year, is the newest addition to the campus. Located directly between Ely and Lammers Hall, it is the newest residential building. It will house Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. With suite style living, it has a 6 person capacity per suite usually a common room with 3 dorm rooms branching off of it, with a bathroom serving these 3 rooms each suite will have a kitchen.
There are several dining options on campus, ranging from sit-down to takeout, and restaurant style to the cafeteria style of Tim and Jeanne’s, where students can eat three meals a day. Sodexo is the major vendor on campus. In addition, the campus hosts Pandini's (Italian food), Dunkin' Donuts, Commuter Café, Subway, Jazzman's (coffee house), Quixote’s, and the Garden Café. The seven dining options are located in five buildings on campus: Ely Hall, Wilson Hall, Tim and Jeanne’s, New Hall, and The Horace Mann Center.
The Campus Card serves as the student’s official university identification card, meal card, and if desired, Owl Bucks card. Each meal plan includes $150 Sodexo Bucks per semester ($50 for the commuter plan), which students can use to buy from any food vendor on-campus.
Students may also add Owl Bucks to their Campus Card that can then be used for making purchases using “Owl Bucks.” Owl Bucks are accepted at the university bookstore, vending machines and laundry rooms in residential halls, and at numerous off-campus restaurants and businesses throughout Westfield. Students spend over $500,000 per year in Owl Buck transactions in downtown Westfield.
Community Service Clearinghouse
The Westfield State University Community Service Clearinghouse provides students, faculty, staff and community partners with a centralized resource for posting and receiving information, resources and referrals for community service and service-learning opportunities. There are more than 70 community service organizations and opportunities.