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Research and Discovery

Ramon S. Torrecilha

Creating a Vision for the Future

In addition to creating a plan to foster student success, I have reviewed survey results and met with campus constituents to learn more about Westfield State, with a focus on three key themes: “Discover, Define and Deliver.

Now that I have completed my first 100 days as President, my goal is to inform and provide guidance on our accomplishments so far and where we are headed as a model, comprehensive public institution.

Dr. Ramon S. Torrecilha
President

Discovering Westfield State

Survey

Participation of all campus community members was solicited through emails and announcements.  In the end, 361 members of the community completed the survey.  Since the responses were relatively evenly distributed between faculty, staff and students this resulted in very different response rates.

GROUP APPROXIMATE RESPONSE RATE
All faculty (including unknown PT/FT status) 26%
Full-time faculty 46%
Part-time faculty 7%
Staff 27%
All students 2%
Undergraduate students living on campus 2%
Undergraduate commuter students 2%
Graduate students 1%

Because of the differing response rates and potential for divergent perspectives, the responses to each question were divided by role, and alternate responses within each role were coded.  For the new initiatives question, all responses were coded.

The responses were coded by theme using a somewhat elastic code book.  The over-arching areas addressed in most questions were the characteristics of the institution, the people of Westfield State, resources, the physical plant and programs, both academic and non-academic.  Individual responses often addressed multiple themes, each of which was coded separately.  This resulted in more coded responses than respondents.

Here is what you said...

What We Value Most

Whether you are a faculty member or staff member you are likely to put students at the center of your work, and our students recognize and value this commitment. Faculty members also value the climate that supports our teaching mission.

Whether you are a faculty member or staff member you are likely to put students at the center of your work, and our students recognize and value this commitment. Faculty members also value the climate that supports our teaching mission.


Our Strengths

What we value aligns with what we perceive as our strengths: our committed faculty and the size of our institution that allows us to focus on student success.

What we value aligns with what we perceive as our strengths: our committed faculty and the size of our institution that allows us to focus on student success.


Our Challenges

Here we diverge, with different groups of respondents expressing specific concerns aligned with their role on campus. Generally, however, we agree that we need to focus on resources, relationships and diversity.

Here we diverge, with different groups of respondents expressing specific concerns aligned with their role on campus. Generally, however, we agree that we need to focus on resources, relationships and diversity.


Priorities For The Future

When asked what new initiatives the University should pursue, about ten percent of respondents stated that we should concentrate on supporting what is already in place before we try to expand.

When asked what new initiatives the University should pursue, about ten percent of respondents stated that we should concentrate on supporting what is already in place before we try to expand.


Presidential Meetings

102

Direct Reports

9

Massachusetts Council of Presidents

17

Board of Trustees sub-committees

10

Cabinet Meetings

20

Massachusetts Legislators

30 hours

Promotion and Tenure Reviews

11

Westfield State Foundation

9

Employment Search

30

Community Events

3

Western Association of Schools & Colleges

84

Campus Constituents

5

Alumni Events

32

Campus Events

8

Westfield State Union Representatives

15

Athletic Events

Defining Our Goals

The information gathered from the survey results and meetings on and off campus have led to the discussion of planning for the future through the exploration of several initiatives:

  • Establish a high-performance leadership team to affect a seamless transition
  • Assess the structure of the university’s multiple Divisions
  • Heighten our presence in the larger community through a stronger media campaign
  • Establish advisory committees to the president

Delivering The Westfield State Experience

Delivering on student success and The Westfield State Experience will rely heavily on efforts to provide opportunities for students to engage in high-impact practices, such as student research, internships, civic engagement and service learning.

These practices have been shown to improve retention and graduation rates and also help to provide a seamless transition to the labor force or graduate school. The journey to student success is inclusive and aspirational, and steps have already been taken to continue on our path:

  • Created the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Work
  • Established a committee for Academic Planning
  • Re-established the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Advisory Committee
  • Collaborated with colleagues to secure the release of $930,000 from Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) for the Science and Innovation Center
  • Identified institutional priorities and partnered with the Westfield State Foundation to realize over $900,000 to support student success, and institutional priorities.
  • Supported campus efforts to open Common Goods, the first-ever Westfield State food pantry
  • Continued pursuit of the establishment of the Physician Assistant Program, the only public PA program in New England, poised to begin accepting students in 2017.
  • In the planning stages to a financially self-supporting, self-operated dining program, focusing on local and sustainable food purchasing and preparation.
  • Initiated a strategy to mobilize the Westfield State community in support of a budget amendment to fund collective bargaining agreements to avoid raising fees for students
  • Heightened presence in the larger community through media coverage of University initiatives, activities and events. In the first 100 days, we had more than 500 hits via print, online and television. Among the topics that received notice were:
  • Senator Warren meets with Westfield State students to discuss reducing loan debt
  • The University’s approval of the Physician Assistant Studies program
  • Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to speak at 2016 Westfield State University commencement
  • Westfield State University hosts Carlos Santiago, the first Latino Commissioner of Higher Education
  • Social work program at Westfield State named most affordable in Northeast
  • The University fights student hunger through the establishment of Common Goods food pantry

What's next?

  • Continue to heighten our presence in the larger community
  • Continue thinking institutionally about student success
  • Assess the structure of institutional divisions
  • Continue working on building teams and eliminating silos
  • Increase alumni engagement
  • Increase internal and external communication
  • Launch The Westfield State Experience
  • Plan and invest in a graduate initiative
  • Develop a strategic enrollment management initiative