Create Your Own Legacy


Robert A. Johnson ’70, M’72, formed a tight bond in his junior year with Edmond Skinski, Ed.D., who launched the school’s special education major. “He took me under his wing and mentored me through my master’s program. I was among the first to receive a master’s in special education administration,” says Johnson, a former chair of the Westfield State University Foundation, Inc. and a current University trustee. “We have actually stayed in touch to this day.”

Johnson credits Westfield State with preparing him for an enormously fulfilling 43-year career, working on behalf of children and adults with special needs in Massachusetts. And he says it can be argued that the University also blessed him with his four children and eight grandchildren, as he met his wife, Ellen (Metcalf) Johnson ’70, on campus as well. “The school had a profound impact on my life, and, as a result, I have a very strong affinity for it,” Johnson says.

To show his gratitude, Johnson has become the first person to donate to the Foundation’s new “35 for 35” planned giving initiative, which was established to mark this year’s 35th anniversary of
the Foundation. 

Lisa McMahon, assistant director of Advancement and University Relations, said the University is seeking 34 other legacy donors to make a planned gift by naming the University in their will or estate plan or by dedicating a portion of their life insurance policy, to name a few options. “Through our planned giving program, donors can be assured that their gift will benefit tomorrow’s students, faculty and programs, as they create their own legacies today,” McMahon says.

Johnson says, “The best thing about planned giving is it allows people of modest means, such as me, to make a significant difference in an organization for which they hold a strong affinity. It will ensure that others are given the same opportunities we have had.”

To learn more about the 35 for 35 initiative and the numerous ways you can make a planned gift, contact McMahon at (413) 485-7360 or


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