Azanda Seymour appointed executive director of new center

Azanda Seymour

Azanda Seymour, Ed.D., ’92 has been appointed executive director of the University’s new Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE).

Part of the Division of Academic Affairs, the CSSE was developed to provide more comprehensive and coordinated academic support and programming for students. It includes the Banacos Academic Center, the Honors Program, the Office of Academic Advising and Transfer Transition, the Reading and Writing Center, the TRiO Student Support Services Program, and the Urban Education Program (UEP).

“Dr. Seymour will oversee each area and bring a new level of coordination to these programs,” said Robert Kersting, Ph.D., interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “It is our hope to create a structure for our students that will support and enhance their academic success. Dr. Seymour brings the training and background to lead the Center. Her experience at WSU as the Urban Education Program director—and her previous work in the president’s office—provides an institutional knowledge and on-the-ground experience. This, coupled with her doctoral training and status as an Urban Education alumna of WSU, gives her a unique and valuable skill set for this position.”

The CSSE will be temporarily housed in Scanlon Hall starting in January 2021. It will be relocated to the first floor, adjacent to the Registrar’s Office, following the completion of the Parenzo Hall renovation project, anticipated in summer 2023.

“As outlined in Westfield State University’s strategic plan, the Center for Student Success and Engagement will provide students access to an enriching undergraduate experience by providing exceptional academic support and resources in one location,” said Seymour. “I look forward to working more collaboratively with the academic support programs, faculty, academic departments, and other university constituents to continue supporting our students as they strive to meet their personal and academic goals.”

Previously, Seymour served as director of the University’s UEP, which was founded in 1968 to provide collegiate opportunities to first-generation students, students of color, and students who experience financial challenges.

A 1992 alumna of Westfield State and the UEP, Seymour holds a B.A. in mass communication, a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Hartford. She has also held positions at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Mount Holyoke College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and INROADS, an international organization that develops and places talented minority youth in business and industry and prepares them for corporate and community leadership.

She has worked for Westfield State since 2008, beginning as an advisor in the Academic Advising Center and later holding positions as assistant director of the UEP, and as executive assistant to the president. During her tenure, she has served the University on numerous search, steering and planning committees.

Robert Thornton named director of Westfield State’s Urban Education Program

Robert Thornton succeeds Dr. Seymour as UEP director. He has served the UEP for six years, most recently as assistant director. He previously served as an instructor of history at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa., his hometown. Thornton holds a B.A. in history and an M.A. in social science from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. He is a visiting lecturer for the Westfield State Department of History and is pursuing a doctoral degree in educational leadership at the University of Hartford.