Westfield State University


   There is a diversity gap in the public schools in Massachusetts. As the student population in the state has grown more diverse over the last several years, the state’s teaching corps has remained predominately white.   Some school districts are trying to close the gap.

The new president of Westfield State University has a plan for his first 100 days in office. Ramon Torrecilha became the 20th president of the 176-year-old school three weeks ago.

He came to western Massachusetts from California State University Dominguez Hills, where he held several senior administrative positions and was on the faculty.  

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Torrecilha.

The new Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago is visiting each of the 24 campuses that make up the state’s system of community colleges and state universities. At each visit he meets with staff, faculty, students, local community leaders, and elected officials. 

Santiago, who came to Massachusetts as a deputy higher education commissioner in 2013, was on the campus of Westfield State University Thursday and he spoke with WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill.


A state university in western Massachusetts and an urban public school system have announced a partnership to train more minority teachers in high- demand fields.

Westfield State University and the Springfield Public Schools have embarked on a “grow your own” initiative to recruit Springfield high school students of color to become teachers, provide a four-year university education, followed by a guaranteed job in the city’s public school system.


Two colleges in western Massachusetts have announced a student transfer program that puts a cap on the cost of a diploma.

The agreement between Westfield State University and Holyoke Community College gives commuter students an opportunity to earn a degree at both the associate’s and bachelor’s levels for a total cost of $30,000 in tuition and mandatory student fees.

" What we are doing is putting together a four-year college degree that is roughly the cost of a new car," said Westfield State University Interim President Elzabeth Preston.

Charlie Deitz / WAMC

The former mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts has resigned from the Westfield State University Board of Trustees. University leadership has been under scrutiny for the past year.


The former president of Westfield State University, Evan Dobelle, must now answer to allegations brought by the Massachusetts Attorney General that he misused public funds.  Dobelle’s attorney said he looks forward to having his day in court and to restoring his tarnished reputation.

A 27-page complaint filed in state court in Boston Thursday by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley accuses Dobelle of charging the university for personal items, trips, meals in fancy restaurants, and family vacations totaling nearly $100,000.


The Massachusetts Inspector General issued a scathing report Thursday on a former state university president’s use of state funds for personal purposes.  The report raised the likelihood that former Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle will face a criminal investigation.


The leadership controversy at Westfield State University has deepened with the filing of a federal court lawsuit.  Embattled President Evan Dobelle charges trustees and the state’s top higher education official have defamed him.

State Releases Some Westfield St. Funding

Oct 24, 2013

Westfield State University says the state’s releasing more than $195,000 dollars in funding frozen amid a spending investigation by its now-suspended president, Evan Dobelle.

Acting President Elizabeth Preston made the announcement after meeting Wednesday with state Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland.

Freeland said earlier Wednesday during a visit to Springfield he hopes Dobelle's situation will be resolved by Nov. 25, either by a negotiated settlement or action by the Westfield State trustees.


The Massachusetts Higher Education Commissioner addressed the controversy surrounding Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle during a visit to Springfield on Wednesday.  Richard Freeland also sounded an alarm about the state’s future ability to produce a properly educated workforce.

Mass. Uni Names Interim President In Spending Flap

Oct 18, 2013

Westfield State University has appointed an interim president after trustees put president Evan Dobell on paid administrative leave.

The Republican newspaper of Springfield reports Elizabeth Preston, the school's vice president for academic affairs, will lead Westfield at least until Nov. 25, when a Boston law firm hired to investigate Dobelle's expenditures is due to present its findings.


Embattled Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation into his lavish spending on travel and entertainment.  The western Massachusetts school’s board of trustees took the action during the course of a marathon meeting that started Wednesday afternoon and ended past midnight Thursday.


Embattled Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle is defending his controversial spending of taxpayer and foundation money on travel and entertainment.  He’s also complaining about what he says is a “rush to judgment” by state officials.  

Westfield State President Faces No-Confidence Vote

Oct 7, 2013
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Faculty members and librarians at Westfield State University in Massachusetts are planning a no-confidence vote on President Evan Dobelle later this month.

The Oct. 16 vote was scheduled after Dobelle missed a deadline Thursday to explain travel spending criticized by an outside auditor and state inspector general.

After Dobelle missed the deadline, state Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland froze $197,000 in university funding and recommended withholding another $2 million for a planned science center.

Ed Officials To Meet With Westfield State Chief

Sep 13, 2013

The head of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education says he wants to meet with Westfield State University President Evan Dobelle to review his spending.

Higher Education Chairman Charles Desmond said in a letter to Dobelle Thursday that a report about expenditures of state funds including credit card expenses incurred by university employees "raise serious concerns" about their appropriateness.

Desmond said he and other top state education officials want to meet separately with members of the Westfield State Board of Trustees.