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Dr. Ramon Torrecilha approved as Westfield State University’s 20th president

Dr. Ramon Torrecilha approved as Westfield State University’s 20th president

WESTFIELD, Mass., December 1, 2015 - Today the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education formally approved Dr. Ramon Torrecilha, a lifelong educator, as the 20th president Westfield State University. Dr. Torrecilha is a faculty member and has served in a number of senior administrative positions including executive vice president, provost and as an acting president.

“I am delighted by the appointment of Dr. Ramon Torrecilha as the new President of Westfield State and look forward to working with him,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “I want to thank the Westfield Board of Trustees and the search committee for delivering an exceptional pool of quality candidates, and congratulate them on an outstanding selection.”

Dr. Torrecilha will be the first Latino to serve as president in the university’s 176-year history. He is scheduled to begin his term on January 25, 2016.

About The Search Process

Westfield State’s presidential search process officially launched in January 2015, with a search committee comprising 13 members of the campus community.

Board of Trustee members Steven Marcus ’88 and Terrell M. Hill ’92, were appointed to serve as the chair and vice-chair, respectively, at the April 2014 board meeting. The members of the Westfield State University Presidential Search Advisory Committee included: Katheryn Bradford, M.S., Director, Alumni Relations (APA); Justin Connolly ’16, Student Trustee; Junior Delgado, Director, Career Center (APA); Evelyn Dina ’16, SGA President, Student Representative; Margot Hennessy, Ph.D., Chair, Ethnic and Gender Studies, MSCA Chapter President; Terrell Hill ’92, M.Ed., Trustee; Robin Jensen, Chair (now former), Foundation Board; Ron’na Lytle, Administrative Assistant, Ethnic and Gender Studies and World Languages, (AFSCME); Steven  Marcus ’88, Trustee; Luis Perez, J.D., Trustee; Carlton Pickron, Ed.D., Vice President, Student Affairs (NUP); Henry Thomas, M.A., J.D., Board of Higher Education Representative; Edward Welsh, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Mathematics (MSCA).

On February 5, 2015, the Board of Trustees officially ratified Diversified Search of Philadelphia, PA to help manage the search process.

Two days of open Campus and Community Forums were held to gather input about the qualities people wanted to see in the next president. A position description was drafted to incorporate feedback received during the forums and was used in recruiting candidates. Ads were placed in several national education, business, and leadership publications in April with Diversified Search actively engaging prospective candidates and building the candidate pool. Applicants were asked to submit materials by July 1, 2015.

The pool of candidates was narrowed to a semi-finalist group of 13 in August. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee interviewed the semi-finalists over a two-day period off campus between August 27-29

On September 29, 2015, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee announced three finalists to be brought forward as candidates to serve as the university’s 20th president: Damian Fernandez, Ph.D., chief executive officer, head of school, Ethical Culture Fieldston School; Ramon Torrecilha, Ph.D., professor of sociology, former provost, vice president for Academic Affairs, California State University, Dominguez Hills; and Linda Vaden-Goad, Ph.D., provost, vice president for Academic Affairs, Framingham State University.

From October 5-16, the university held campus visits for each of the candidates to meet with the campus community and key stakeholders.

On October 27, Diversified Search notified the university that Damian Fernandez withdrew his name as a candidate for the position of president.

On October 28, the Westfield State University Board of Trustees voted to recommend Dr. Ramon Torrecilha as the final candidate.

On December 1, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education formally approved Dr. Ramon Torrecilha as the 20th president of Westfield State University.

About Dr. Ramon Torrecilha

Dr. Torrecilha is a lifelong educator who has worked across divisions and departments to build successful programs to support student success. He is currently a professor of sociology at California State University Dominguez Hills. Previously, he served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the university, where he designed and implemented a cohort-based, first-year initiative to increase student retention and graduation rates. As Provost, he invested in student research and supported more than 200 undergraduate research projects. He provided leadership and support to secure more than $16 million in grants and contracts and $600,000 to support faculty research and creative activity. Dr. Torrecilha also served as Executive Vice President of Mills College during which time he served as acting president on two separate occasions.  His many accomplishments at Mills include the design, implementation and successful achievement of a capital campaign that raised more than $130 million dollars on behalf of women’s education. Dr. Torrecilha also led a successful campus reaccreditation process resulting in an eight-year renewal from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and increased the alumnae participation rate by 10 percent. Dr. Torrecilha earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Portland State University and his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.