Westfield State thrives 100 Days into President Ramon S. Torrecilha’s leadership
Westfield State University President Ramon S. Torrecilha officially completed his first 100 days on Saturday, April 30. To commemorate the milestone, Westfield State University has released a 100 Day Report detailing how the university has evolved under his leadership.
“Throughout my first 100 days, I have enjoyed getting to know the campus community and meeting with as many members as possible to identify what steps we need to take to position Westfield State University as a model, comprehensive public institution,” said Dr. Ramon S. Torrecilha.
One of President Torrecilha’s first initiatives was to create a survey for university stakeholders to learn what Westfield State faculty, staff, and students value most about the institution and what areas could be improved upon. Survey results showed that the students, faculty, and staff share the belief in the need for creating a culture of commitment to student success, which the campus community defines as increasing retention and graduation rates, reducing the achievement gap, providing civic and world engagement experiences, and assisting with the transition to the labor force and graduate school.
Achieving Student Success
President Torrecilha’s efforts to achieve student success are established through a four-year signature program called The Westfield State Experience.
Year one centers on experience, by introducing students to first-year seminars and creating common intellectual experiences and learning communities to encourage critical inquiry and collaborative learning.
Year two focuses on reflection, aligning students’ goals with their aspirations and career paths, and creating a roadmap for success in and out of the classroom.
Year three emphasizes high-impact practices by engaging students in undergraduate research, service learning initiatives, and community-based and global learning and internships to further increase retention and engagement.
Year four immerses students in capstone courses and projects that integrate and apply learning and prepare for the work force and graduate school.
Connecting with the Campus Community
President Torrecilha engaged with as many members of the campus and Westfield community as possible during his first 100 days. He attended 32 campus events, met with 84 campus constituents, and attended 30 community events.
During his first 100 Days, President Torrecilha announced the university’s intent to establish a Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Work. More than $200,000 was allocated for initial support. Westfield State supported campus efforts to open Common Goods, the first-ever.
Westfield State food pantry which serves faculty, staff, and students who are experiencing food insecurity. The master of social work program at Westfield State was named most affordable in Northeast. Westfield State University teamed up with other public universities to sign the Commonwealth Commitment, an innovative college affordability and completion plan to help more students complete a college degree.
The university’s Nursing Department formally launched its RN to BSN program, which is slated to start in the fall. At a total cost of $10,500, the program is one of the most affordable in the region.
President Torrecilha met with legislators 20 times including campus visits with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago.
President Torrecilha plans to focus on alumni engagement to encourage alumni to become lifelong supporters of the institution. His vision is unique because he believes alumni engagement should begin while the students are still attending Westfield State.
“Alumni engagement begins during the student’s first year at Westfield State University,” President Torrecilha said. “It is our responsibility to create a campus environment that allows our students to thrive and create a connection that lasts a lifetime.”
As President Torrecilha’s first semester draws to a close, he intends to focus efforts on thinking institutionally about student success. “Achieving student success does not come from just one mind,” President Torrecilha said. “Currently, we possess the brushstrokes of a vision, but decisions about how we are going to achieve our goals are ongoing. The process is fluid and organic, and relies on input and collaboration from students, faculty, staff and other partners.”