Faculty, Staff News and Notes


The following were recently named to vice president positions:

Daniel Forster was named vice president of Enrollment Management and assumed his position on April 1. He oversees Admissions, Financial Aid, and Marketing.  In addition to developing and implementing a comprehensive enrollment management plan, Forster, as a member of the president’s cabinet, collaborates with other senior administrators on strategic planning across the institution. He previously served in leadership roles at Sallie Mae Inc., Wheelock College, Simmons College, and, most recently, Washington College in Maryland, where he served as vice president of Enrollment Management. Forster has deep roots in Western Massachusetts and ties to Westfield State. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism/history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his master’s degree in education (history) from Westfield State. He previously worked at the University in various roles, including assistant director of Student Administrative Services, drug prevention coordinator, and resident director.

Parviz Ansari, Ph.D., was named provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and began his role on July 1. He is Westfield State University’s chief academic officer and will most immediately provide key oversight to the University’s move to a college structure and critical academic initiatives, including
The Westfield State Experience, the University’s signature student success program. He previously served as vice chancellor for strategic initiatives at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) and as provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs there. Prior to SIUE, he served in a variety of leadership positions at Rowan University and Seton Hall University, both located in New Jersey. Ansari holds a Ph.D. and a master of science in physics from Tufts University and a bachelor of science in physics from Pahlavi University (now Shiraz University) in Iran.

The following faculty members learned they received tenure in the spring:

Ziblim Abukari, Ph.D., Social Work, strongly believes that critical thinking skills are the most important aspect of the social work field and works with his students to foster those skills in his courses. He has presented his research across the country and internationally. He is deeply devoted to public service and engages with both the campus and his local community.

Rihab Alzubaidi, Ph.D., Economics and Management, is committed to his students and incorporates various teaching strategies, materials, and assignments to address learning differences. He is dedicated to the Economics and Management Department and represents it on several committees and at University open houses. He engages with his local community as well, serving as an interpreter for Arabic-speaking clients.

Edward Orgill, D.A., Music, transformed from a professional musician to a dedicated educator through his career at Westfield State. He has participated in campus workshops and used peer evaluation to strengthen his teaching skills. He is actively engaged in the academic advising process, using his professional experience to guide his students.

Jennifer Propp, Ph.D., Social Work, utilizes her skills from working in the social field and applies them to her work on campus, creating a safe learning environment in the classroom, responsive to the academic and personal needs of her students. She views scholarship and research as an opportunity to enhance her teaching skills and collaborates with students and colleagues for conference and publication work.

James Wright, Ph.D., Mathematics, utilizes a combination of student-centered activities that incorporates both discussion and instruction in his courses, allowing his students to actively engage with him and one another. He is the program coordinator for the Mathematics Middle and Secondary programs and enjoys mentoring students who are completing independent studies or honors projects.

The following were approved as Faculty Emeriti in
the spring:

Kamal Ali, Ed.D., Associate Professor Emeritus, served the University for more than 30 years in various roles, including as director of the Urban Education Program and as a professor.
He championed diversity efforts through strengthening the Urban Education Program, recruiting faculty of color, creating the Department of Ethnic and Gender Studies, and directing
and applying for federal TRiO grants, helping the University advance its mission through its socially responsible,
globally aware graduates.

Judith Carlson, Librarian Emerita, served the University
for nearly 20 years in the library. Carlson was a very active member of the campus and served on several different committees. In her role as head of the Technical Services Department, she spearheaded the effort to digitalize the library’s records, a project that has had lasting impacts on faculty, staff, and students who are now able to access information instantly online.

Trudy Knowles, Ed.D., Professor Emerita, served the University’s Education Department for 22 years. Dr. Knowles taught hundreds of teacher candidates. As the elementary program coordinator, she worked to improve and align Westfield State’s programs with current professional teaching standards. She strongly supported the arts and designed courses that helped future teachers learn how to integrate
the arts into all aspects of their educational experience.

Marilyn Sandidge, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, served the English Department for nearly 30 years. Dr. Sandidge remained dedicated to her field of study. She served as co-editor of the scholarly book series Fundamentals of Medieval and Early Modern Cultures, helping to educate and enlighten students far beyond the campus limits. Her devotion to research never wavered, and she continued to advance her expertise through participating in conferences, organizing presentations, and publishing essays.

The following were approved as Staff Emeriti in the spring:

Susan Clark. In Clark’s 33-year tenure at the University, her hard work was recognized with back-to-back merit awards bestowed for receiving perfect evaluations. Her support of fellow employees, as a steward for the AFSCME union, and her work to improve student services through collaboration with Information Technology and the Registrar’s Office illustrated her elevated dedication to Westfield State University. Clark was honored posthumously.

Michael “Mickey” Curtis. Serving for nearly 30 years, Curtis made an invaluable impact on the University’s athletic programs. Whether it was through building the school’s inaugural athletic website, pioneering the web streaming video broadcast of athletic events, or serving on the Westfield State Athletic Hall of Fame board of directors, his hard work has and will continue to serve many generations of student athletes.

Elizabeth “Betty” Desnoyers. Following Desnoyers’ 22 years of service, she was most remembered for her role as the University telephone operator. She cultivated friendships and offered advice to a vast array of students, positively impacting students’ experiences. Desnoyers was honored posthumously.

Kenneth Haar. Serving Westfield State for 32 years, Haar had
the unique experience of working as both a member of the faculty and an administrator. Whether it was through his work to establish the first computer labs on campus or his support of student scholarship initiatives, he had a significant impact on student success.

Holly Robbins. In her 27 years of service, Robbins supported the University through many departments. While in the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education, she and her staff earned awards and recognition for their non-credit programming. Faculty and staff alike were fond of her monthly newsletter “The Resource,” and “Ourstory,” a publication that gave insight into the University’s history.

Curt Robie, Ed.D. Serving for 35 years, Dr. Robie supported many different divisions. He is responsible for many of the critical physical transformations on campus, most recently the Dr. Nettie M. Stevens Science and Innovation Center. Despite his retirement, he has remained connected to the University as a consultant, overseeing existing projects.

Deborah Samwell. In her more than 40 years of service to Westfield State, Samwell supported the University in both the Information Technology Department and the Computer and Information Science and Mathematics academic departments. She was part of a forward-thinking group that led the campus in technological advancements and helped faculty and staff by offering word processing seminars and courses.


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