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Westfield State University President Ramon Torrecilha announces retirement

Westfield State University President Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D., has informed the University’s Board of Trustees that he intends to retire on Aug. 31, 2020, having accomplished key goals including developing and implementing a strategic plan for the institution; elevating the University’s standing locally, regionally and nationally; and making the university more accessible to disadvantaged communities.

Appointed in December 2015, Dr. Torrecilha began his leadership as Westfield State’s 20th president in January 2016. Motivated by his humble beginnings as a Brazilian immigrant and his own experience as a graduate of public higher education in the United States, his leadership as the University’s first Latino president was marked by many student-focused, accessibility-minded enhancements, and initiatives.

“We are so grateful for all that President Torrecilha has brought to Westfield State University, and the hard work that he and his team have done to create a platform for growth and improvement, while always putting students first,” said Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Queenin. “He has set our University on a path to preeminence among regional public universities, while remaining down-to-earth and accessible to students, faculty, and staff, as well as the University’s partners in the area, across the state, and at the national level.”

“I wish President Torrecilha the very best in retirement and thank him for his transformative leadership as the 20th president of Westfield State,” said Dr. Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “I am especially grateful to him for his advocacy on behalf of students, including his partnership with local schools on our early college initiative and his recognition of the need for flexible scheduling options to meet the needs of graduate students trying to earn their degrees while working and raising families.”

According to Queenin, President Torrecilha affected much change and advancement in his four and half year tenure at Westfield State. President Torrecilha’s impact and leadership materialized in the following mission-driven, student-focused advancements since 2016:

  • Increased prominence of Westfield State locally, regionally and nationally;
  • The Westfield State Experience, enabling students to formalize their four-year path for academic and life achievement;
  • Increase in institutional financial aid by over $1 million;
  • A re-energized The Westfield Promise to provide underserved area high school students with early college experience;
  • Strategic and beneficial partnerships with area community colleges to create more and better pathways for a variety of student populations;
  • Leadership and management in the aftermath of a series of bias and hate incidents on campus to heal the campus community and strengthen its security;
  • Established the college structure informed by the recommendation of the University’s Advisory Committee on Academic Planning;
  • An additional $40 million in state funding for capital improvements, including the long-overdue renovation of Parenzo Hall;
  • Funded the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities; and
  • CASE recognition of University strides in fundraising success over three years.

“I am so proud of what we have been able to do in four and half years, with the support of my cabinet and the faculty and staff, to provide a more inclusive, accessible, and supported education for the students at Westfield State,” said President Torrecilha. “After 30 years in higher education, I have decided it will soon be time for me to pursue personal interests, learn new things, see more of the world, and slow down. I can do so because I know the University is well-positioned for continued relevance and excellence.”

The Board of Trustees is expected to name an interim president for the 2020-2021 academic year and also initiate a search for a permanent successor to President Torrecilha.