News

Fall semester begins with new leadership and structure for Division of Academic Affairs

The Fall 2018 semester looks very different from the Spring 2018 semester for the Division of Academic Affairs at Westfield State University. Now at the helm are a newly appointed provost and four founding college deans as the University finalized the transition of its Division of Academic Affairs from 25 academic departments to four colleges.

New college structure to promote efficiencies and innovation
Westfield State University recently completed its transition to a college structure this summer following a 15-month planning period that involved input from campus constituents and a thorough analysis by the University’s Advisory Committee on Academic Planning.

According to Westfield State University President Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D., who supported the recommendations of the committee, the new alignment better addresses student needs, promises for enhanced collaboration and innovation among academic disciplines, and enables greater operational efficiencies. Westfield State is the last among its peer comprehensive state universities to adopt the college structure.

Westfield State’s four new colleges are:

  • College of Graduate and Continuing Education
  • ​College of Mathematics and Sciences
  • College of Education, Health, and Human Services
  • College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

All women administrative team appointed
In addition to the May 2018 appointment of Diane T. Prusank, Ph.D., as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and the July 2017 appointment of Shelley Tinkham, Ph.D., as dean of the new College of Graduate and Continuing Education, three new founding deans were appointed in June. They include deans Jennifer A. Hanselman, Ph.D., Juline E. Mills, Ph.D., and Emily B. Todd, Ph.D.

As the University’s chief academic officer, Dr. Prusank oversees academic life, staff, and programs. Since joining Westfield State University in 2008 she has served as dean of Undergraduate Studies, dean of Academic Programs and Accreditation, as chair and a faculty member in the Department of Communication, and most recently, as chief of staff in the Office of the President.

“Dr. Prusank is a well-respected colleague and has proven to be a thoughtful and effective decision maker and communicator since joining Westfield State University in 2008,” said President Torrecilha. “Her sound judgment, collaborative workstyle and consistent diligence have brought about important results that align with the values of the University and advance its mission.”

Prior to joining Westfield State, Dr. Prusank served as a faculty member, associate dean, and assistant provost at the University of Hartford.

She received her Ph.D. in communication from the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Prusank is an active scholar researching in the area of media portrayal of personal relationships. She has served as a reviewer and member of the editorial board of several scholarly journals. Her most recent publications include a book chapter in Lifespan Communication and a co-authored article in The Howard Journal of Communication.

“Our newly appointed deans exhibit the right combination of collaborative spirit, appreciation for academic rigor, and leadership experience to serve as important change agents in this significant shift in academic structure at the University,” said Provost Prusank. “The new structure means change for students and faculty alike, but that change will soon bring great advantage to Westfield State students as we prepare them for meaningful lives and successful careers.”  

Jennifer A. Hanselman, Ph.D., former chair of the Department of Biology, was appointed interim dean of the College of Mathematics and Sciences.

Dr. Hanselman has served as chair since 2016 and has taught in the department since 2008. Beyond the University, Dr. Hanselman has held consultant and contract positions in the STEM fields and her community involvement has included board and other volunteer positions with local high schools and non-profit organizations, including the Amelia Park Children’s Museum.

Prior to joining Westfield State University, she held teaching positions at Florida Institute of Technology, Brevard Community College, and Palm Bay High School.

She received her Bachelor of Science in education/biology; Master of Science in education/conservation biology; and Ph.D. in ecology and conservation biology, all from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Juline E. Mills, Ph.D. was named dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Services.

Dr. Mills came to Westfield State from the University of New Haven, where she was a professor in the College of Business. During her time at the University of New Haven, she served as chair of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and as the chair and vice chair of the faculty senate. Dr. Mills has also taught at the University of Delaware and Purdue University.

Dr. Mills’ strengths as an administrator and faculty member include a focus on experiential learning and its desired outcomes; re-energizing academic departments in need; engaging and retaining talented faculty; infusing an entrepreneurial approach to teaching; creating non-tuition based revenue; and designing success-focused curricula driven by industry trends.

Dr. Mills’ work and research in the areas of technology applications in the service sector, and hospitality and tourism management has been widely presented and published.

Emily B. Todd, Ph.D., former chair of the Department of English at Westfield State, was appointed interim dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

Dr. Todd joined the University in 1999 as an assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and full professor in 2010, when she also began her tenure as department chair.

Active off-campus as well, she served for three years on the executive committee of the Association of Departments of English (ADE), a program of the Modern Language Association, and was selected as the 2017 ADE president. As a member of the ADE executive committee, she facilitated multiple discussions and workshops on timely topics in higher education. At the state level, Dr. Todd has participated in discussions and workshops on partnerships with high schools and on curricular pathways for transfer students.

Prior to joining Westfield State, Dr. Todd held part-time teaching positions at Northwestern University, Loyola University (Chicago), and the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Todd graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in American studies from Amherst College; earned a M.Phil. in Scottish literature from St. Andrews University in Scotland; and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota.

Classes began at Westfield State University on September 5. Westfield State welcomed nearly 1,400 new and transfer students to its campus this fall.

For more information on the new college structure at Westfield State, visit http://www.westfield.ma.edu/colleges.