Westfield State taps Dr. Azanda Seymour to lead its new Center for Student Success and Engagement

Dec 15, 2020

Westfield State University has appointed long-time administrator and Westfield State alumna Azanda Seymour, Ed.D., as executive director of its new Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE).

Part of the Division of Academic Affairs, the CSSE was formalized to provide comprehensive and coordinated academic support and programming for students. The Center serves as the umbrella for 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 is charged to create an enriched level of coordination among these programs,” said Robert Kersting, Ph.D., interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The center creates a formalized structure for our students that will benefit them and assist to bring about their academic success. Dr. Seymour brings a wealth of institutional knowledge, progressive promotion in student support services, and the right collaborative spirit to direct the center and its resources.”

The CSSE will be temporarily housed in Scanlon Hall beginning January 2021. It will relocate to Parenzo Hall when the building’s renovation is completed in 2023.

“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,” said Seymour.

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. 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.

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 minority youth for corporate and community leadership.

Robert Thornton named director of Westfield State University Urban Education Program

Robert Thornton will succeed 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.