Academic Affairs Leadership

Campus light pole with WSU flag on it and University Hall and Ely Campus Center behind it.

Temporary Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. David Caruso

Temporary Provost Dr. David Caruso smiling wearing a suit and glasses.

As the Temporary Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Caruso serves as the chief academic officer and is charged with providing strategic leadership and execution across a variety of areas. Responsible for ensuring a dynamic academic experience for a diverse study body, Dr. Caruso works to develop and deliver competitive undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs critical to the development of knowledge, skills, and character essential for students to become responsible leaders and engaged citizens. 

A search for a permanent Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will be conducted during the 2023 – 24 academic year.

Associate Provost, Dr. Brian Jennings

Dr. Brian Jennings, Dean of Assessment and Accreditation

As Associate Provost, Dr. Jennings will provide leadership, management, and implementation of a comprehensive academic affairs assessment program that supports the University’s mission and strategic initiatives regarding the continued enhancement of teaching, learning, and student development. The Dean of Assessment and Accreditation promotes student learning outcomes and programmatic assessments that will inform and enhance academic decision making and ongoing quality improvement. Dr. Jennings oversees the Office of Accreditation, the Office of High Impact Practices, the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs, and the Office of Institutional Research.

Dr. Jennings joined Westfield State University and the Department of Mathematics in 2010.  He holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Michigan with a specialization in mathematical physics, and a B.S. in physics from John Carroll University.

Throughout his time at the University, Dr. Jennings has served in various leadership roles, including as department chair for three years, and as General Secretary and Moderator of the WSU MSCA chapter.  He has served in numerous university-wide committees, including serving as a member of the (University) Curriculum Committee and as chair for three years.  He chaired the Special Committee on Core Assessment, and served for a number of years on the Advisory Committee for Academic Planning (ACAP).  Dr. Jennings was also a faculty representative on the Presidential Search Committee. 

Associate Dean Of The School Of Health, Natural Sciences, And Human Services, Dr. Ziblim Abukari

Dr. Ziblim Abukari, Associate Dean of Health, Natural Sciences, and Human Services

As the Associate Dean of School of Health, Natural Sciences, and Human Services, Dr. Abukari oversees the Departments of Biology, Chemical and Physical Sciences, Environmental Science, Health Science, Nursing and Allied Health, Social Work, and Sports Medicine and Human Performance.

Since he joined Westfield State University, Dr. Abukari has served the University in various capacities. This includes serving as the director of the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program for three years and chairing several department committees. At the University level, Dr. Abukari has been a member of the Curriculum Committee (CC) on two occasions and the Academic Policies Committee (APC) in which he has served continuously for nearly ten years.  Currently, Dr. Abukari is a member of the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) subcommittee (Standard 4) working toward the university’s reaccreditation in 2023. Dr. Abukari is also leading the Social Work Department’s undergraduate social work program’s self-study toward its reaffirmation in 2022. Dr. Abukari has provided leadership and administrative oversight of the BSW program, competency-based education, student access and success, and academic compliance with accreditation standards.

Dr. Abukari has extensive experience in curriculum development, and assessment of student learning outcomes. He has over 10 years of experience teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in social work and social science research, statistics, human behavior, and the social environment.  A frequent presenter at national conferences, Dr. Abukari’s research focuses on academic outcomes of youth from high-risk environments, international social work, and more recently, decolonization of social work education in Africa. Dr. Abukari proudly serves as a commissioner on the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Commission on Educational Policy.

Associate Dean of The School Of Education, Arts, Communication, and Humanities & The School Of Criminology, Psychology, Social Justice, and Public Policy, Dr. Sabine Klein

Dr. Sabine Klein, Associate Dean, Education, Arts, Communication and Humanities

As the Associate Dean of School of Education, Arts, Communication, and Humanities & The School Of Criminology, Psychology, Social Justice, and Public Policy, Dr. Klein oversees the Departments of Art, Communication, Education, English, History, Music, Philosophy and Theatre Arts. She also oversees the Departments of Criminal Justice, Ethnic and Gender Studies, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology, Hispanic, Liberal and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Dr. Klein has been teaching in the English Department and the Theatre Arts Program at Westfield State University since 2004. For the past 7 years, she has served as the Coordinator of the Theatre Arts Program and taught courses focused on drama and theatre history. She directs plays and musicals on campus and helps produce and organize the stage performances of the Theatre Arts Program.

Dr. Klein earned her PhD in Theatre from The City University of New York Graduate School and University Center. Dr. Klein spent a year of her doctoral studies at the Graduate Program in Theatre at the University of Mainz, Germany. Her research interests have centered around the working conditions of women in German theatre history of both the early 20th century and the 18th century. Her work about early images of America and Americans in German drama appears as a chapter in The American as Foreigner on Stage: Portraits of the United States in International Drama. Dr. Klein has presented about the theatre work of eighteenth-century German actress-manager Caroline Neuber at numerous conferences, including the German Studies Association, the Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, New England Theatre Conference, Northeast Modern Language Association, and the American Society for Theatre Research.

 Dr. Klein served two terms as President of the Board for the New England Theatre Conference between 2011 and 2017 and served as Chair of the College and University Division of the board from 2007-2009. In these roles, she helped oversee the publication of The New England Theatre Journal, planned annual conventions and scholarly panels, and helped oversee board development, elections, and by-laws revisions. Dr. Klein has served on several Westfield State University committees including the Special Committee on University Planning, the Long-Range Planning Committee, the Promotion Committee, and the Honors Advisory Committee.

Associate Dean Of The School Of Business, Mathematics, Computing, And Sustainability, Dr. Rebecca Morris

Dr. Rebecca Morris, Associate Dean, Business, Mathematics, Computing and Sustainability

As the Associate Dean of School of Business, Mathematics, Computing, and Sustainability, Dr. Morris oversees the Departments of Accounting and Finance, Computer and Information Science, Economics, Geography, Planning and Sustainability, Marketing and Management and Mathematics.

Dr. Morris joined Westfield State in August 2015 as an assistant professor of Management.  She has served as the chair of the Economics and Management Department since 2019, which included Economics, Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing and ROTC.  She earned tenure in 2019 and was promoted to Professor in 2020.  She taught strategic management, international business, and leadership courses.  Previously, she was a professor in the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in strategic management, international management, and information systems.   She supervised 22 international consulting projects in the UNO Executive MBA Program.  These projects included industries such as agriculture, financial services, food and beverage manufacturing, transportation, banking, and home healthcare in 19 different countries.  Sponsoring clients included small businesses and four Fortune 500 firms.  Dr. Morris while at UNO was also responsible for the university strategic plan.

Dr. Morris has published research in the areas of strategic decision making and effective pedagogy.  Her published teaching cases on Nike, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Labs, Lululemon, and Kodak have appeared in more than 20 strategic management and international business textbooks.  She is the Editor-in-Chief for The CASE Journal, serving in that role since 2016.  Dr. Morris authored text on case research, writing and teaching (Emerald Publishing) is forthcoming in 2022.

Dr. Morris received a Bachelor of Science in biology from Creighton University, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Creighton University, and a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with emphases in strategic management, investments, and management information systems.  Her dissertation focused on the design of decision support systems to improve strategic decision making.

Azanda Seymour, Ed. D., Executive Director

Center for Student Success and Engagement,
Parenzo Hall

The Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) was created to address the “Big Three” outcomes of the Massachusetts Department of Education’s Vision Project: to boost college completion rates, close the achievement gaps, and attract and graduate more students from underserved populations. However, CSSE has expanded and undergone some changes since its inception.

The goal of CSSE is to increase the persistence and retention of Westfield State students, serve as the home of academic student support services and resources already provided by the University.  CSSE aims to provide students with well-rounded support, streamline processes, and create a space for collaboration between faculty, staff, and students.

Azanda Seymour, Executive Director, Student Success and Engagement

Monique Lopez, Ph.D., Registrar

Registrar's Office,
Parenzo Hall

The Office of the Registrar manages the maintenance and integrity of all undergraduate and graduate student academic records, the approved curriculum, the creation and maintenance of course schedules, all areas of student registration, and the recording and reporting of grades, graduation clearance, and compliance with FERPA regulations. The office establishes and maintains the processes for the equitable and consistent administration of policies and procedures as they relate to registration and academic record keeping. It also provides data reports regarding student enrollment and academic achievement; evaluates and recommends new software and technologies, and implementation of software. 

Monique Lopez, Ph.D., Registrar

Tom Raffensperger, Executive Director

Ely Library,
Ely Campus Center

Joseph B. Ely Library supports the curricular, research, and community-building activities of the University through the effective and efficient provision of information resources, services, and instruction in a supportive learning environment. Our staff and Librarians are committed to student-centered academic support. The Library prioritizes creating and maintaining a safe space for all community members, and librarians have focused on the collection of materials that support the university's goals in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Librarians teach over 200 course-integrated instruction sessions each year along with instructional faculty.

Image of Thomas Raffensperger

Jessica Holden, D.N.P., Executive Director

Nursing and Allied Health 
Wilson Hall

The mission of the Westfield State University Nursing Program is to prepare nursing graduates who are skilled in promoting or maintaining health by delivering  skilled, compassionate, client-centered care to individuals, families and communities  utilizing cultural and ethical understanding and  demonstrating leadership and life-long inquiry. In keeping with this mission, the Department of Nursing will offer an accredited baccalaureate program within the context of a scientific foundation and breadth of a liberal education leading to a professional nursing degree. Excellence in teaching, productive scholarship, and contributions to the nursing profession and the community will be evidenced.

The Department will prepare graduates as generalists in nursing who can assume a broad spectrum of nursing roles in the health field. Upon completion, graduates will be eligible to write the NCLEX examination for licensure as a registered nurse.

Jessica Holden, DNP, Executive Director, Nursing and Allied Health

Megan Kennedy, Ph.D., Executive Director of Educator Preparation, Accreditation and Outreach

Parenzo Hall

The Office of Teacher Education, Licensure and Outreach includes the Center for Teacher Education which is a registered Institution of Higher Education Professional Development provider with the Massachusetts Department of Education. 

Educator preparation at Westfield State has been a vital and integral part of Westfield State University since Horace Mann founded the institution in 1839 as the Westfield Normal School. It is Horace Mann’s philosophy that we continue to embrace: to welcome all students—regardless of fortune, ethnicity, gender, or religion. This remarkable heritage, is embodied by our Education Department.  National accreditation by AAQEP continues the affirmation of Westfield State University’s longstanding tradition of excellence in teacher preparation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and region.

The Westfield State Education Department’s teacher education program is designed to prepare educators to teach effectively within a democratic society. Its mission is informed by six pillars: critical engagement with diversity, social justice, community building, scholarship, and reflective practice. Program coursework and field experiences provide students with the understanding, knowledge, and skills that will enable them, as teachers, to engage with diversity and issues of equity, build inclusive learning communities, embrace the scholarship of teaching and learning, and adopt a reflective practitioner mindset. These principles—which undergird the Teacher Education program—set expectations that are essential for those who will teach in K–12 schools and collectively are needed to provide the foundational knowledge for Westfield State students to become effective, caring, and equitable teachers.

Megan Kennedy, Ph.D., Executive Director of Educator Preparation, Accreditation and Outreach