Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD During a reception at Scanlon Banquet Hall last Thursday the Westfield State College (WSC) Board of Trustees officially welcomed the college's new president, Dr. Evan Dobelle, and his wife Kit, along with approximately 100 students, faculty, staff and alumni.
"My first name is Westfield," Dobelle said in an effort to illustrate his dedication to the institution, adding that he will be living in the dorms on campus for the next few months to become acclimated to the needs and wants of personnel and students.
Dobelle explained that he is eager to gain knowledge about every facet of on-campus life by being a member of the on-campus community.
Those who attended the reception praised the board's decision to name Dobelle as president and voiced their high expectations for the new administration.
"He's got more vision than anyone. Hopefully he'll be the best thing that ever happened to Westfield State College," Robert Magovern, vice president of the WSC Board of Trustees, said, adding that he is very confident in Dobelle's abilities to improve the institution overall.
Since Dobelle's first day as president on Jan. 14, former interim president Barry Maloney said Dobelle has exhibited a strong commitment to the college as well as other characteristics that have set him apart from previous presidents. Maloney explained that unlike former presidents, Dobelle has brought an extensive knowledge of Western Massachusetts and many years of experience as a college president.
"He's clearly comfortable with the job. Now it's just about him getting to know [the WSC] community," Maloney said.
Joseph Constantine, a WSC junior and member of the Student Government Association (SGA), said upon meeting Dobelle he became instantly comfortable. "He really knows how to come down to earth with students," he explained, adding that he has "high hopes" Dobelle will work with the SGA to improve student life campus-wide.
In an interview with Reminder Publications, Dobelle said he is committed to working on a variety of aspects of the college's development. He emphasized teamwork and his promise to be an avid listener of the community, students, faculty and administrators in order to achieve the college's enrichment.
"My leadership is about being a facilitator," Dobelle said. "Westfield [State College] is a strong institution but it needs stability. It needs consistency in leadership to make sure everyone reestablishes ownership of the Strategic Plan." This plan outlines the college's vision and core values from the year 2005 to 2010.
Dobelle said he will work with legislators to achieve additional state funding for much-needed academic buildings and improved technology.
He said another goal is to define and achieve sustainability (green practices) for WSC through his significant knowledge of this practice as the former Massachusetts State Commissioner for Environmental Management and Natural Resources.
"We [WSC] need to be as green as we can as quickly as possible," he said.
Dobelle said he is also committed to increasing diversity within the student population. He noted that diversity at this college has been achieved within the male to female ratio but not among students of diverse ethnicity. Diversity has only increased from seven to 11 percent over the past year.
He said he will be looking to forge a productive and supportive relationship with the student body. "I want to be their advocate and fan," Dobelle said, adding that he plans to attend school functions such as athletic games and theater productions. He said he is also committed to working with the SGA as respectful adult partners. Dobelle explained that he lives by the motto that parents may send their children off to college but they become his adults.