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Westfield State takes on new name, attitude

Date: 8/4/2010

Aug. 4, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- What's in a name? A whole lot, according to Gov. Deval Patrick, who last week changed the names of six of the nine state colleges to universities.

Patrick and officials at Westfield State College, now Westfield State University, are banking on the new designation to make their institution more attractive to students, educators, alumni and investors.

"It finally labels us properly," Kenneth Lemanski, vice president for advancement and college relations at Westfield State, said. "The change of name will finally match the mission of Westfield State as a teaching university that offers bachelor's degrees and master's degrees in a variety of disciplines."

Westfield State President Evan Dobelle issued a statement thanking the governor for his endorsement with a new mast-head, which read, "Now calling it like it is. Westfield State University."

Education Secretary Paul Reville, said, "Students in Massachusetts public higher education have access to high quality instruction across a network of 29 campuses. The newly named state universities play a critical role in educating our students and as part of our system of excellence."

Lemanski noted, "The university title would have no physical effect on Westfield State, but would allow Westfield to take its place with peer institutions across the country as a university in name and not just reputation."

He noted Westfield State fits the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching classification of a teaching university.

"The foundation recognizes research universities and teaching universities. Westfield has, in effect, been a teaching university ever since it expanded its teacher education role by offering advanced degrees in a variety of disciplines," Lemanski said.

City Councilor Brent Bean, external relations manager at Westfield State, explained the new name will make the institution "more competitive" when trying to retain new students for their undergraduate and master's programs.

Westfield State has a student population of approximately 5,500 students with access to 31 undergraduate majors, Division III athletics and 75 different clubs and organizations.

Student housing has boasted 104 percent occupancy for several years, Bean noted. "Ad-missions is through the roof," he added.

Westfield State will expand student housing downtown in the coming year to deal with the overcrowding and try to expand enrollment. The new 216-bed dorm will be located at Lansdowne Place on Thomas Street and will be fully occupied by students in 2011.