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WSC and Kiwanis Club make new scholarship official

By Michelle Symington

MetroWest Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD The Westfield State College (WSC) Department of Communication and the Kiwanis Club of Westfield have teamed up to create a new scholarship in honor of retired WSC professor Dr. Edwin J. Abar.

The Edwin J. Abar/Kiwanis Scholarship, endowed by fund-raising efforts by the Kiwanis Club and WSC Department of Communication, was made official last Wednesday when Gareth Lynch, president of the Kiwanis Club of Westfield and Barry Maloney, vice president of WSC's Division of Advancement and College Relations met to sign the scholarship bylaws.

Abar, who is a member of the Scholarship Committee, taught at the college for 34 years, 15 of which were spent as chair of the Department of Communication. He retired in 2004.

He earned an undergraduate degree from WSC and received a Ph.D from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Maloney said Abar is known as the founding faculty member of the WSC Department of Communication.

He added that the current faculty members in the department were the individuals to shepherd the scholarship through on behalf of Abar.

"They wanted to give back to the students in the program," he said.

Lynch explained that the college and the Kiwanis Club have been working together for over 20 years. Example of the partnership between the college and Club includes the Circle K club at WSC, which is part of the Kiwanis Club and the annual auction that is put on by the Club and the Department of Communication.

He added that Abar, a longtime member and former president and of the Kiwanis Club, is the person who brought the college and Kiwanis Club together.

Robert Ziomek, executive director of the Westfield State College Foundation, said the fund-raising for the scholarship began in October 2004. He added that all of the donations were matched by Abar.

He added that the endowment for the scholarship is up to about $13,000 and he expects it to reach $17,500 by the end of the fiscal year.

Many of the donations for the scholarship endowment were given by students, staff, faculty and alumni of the Department of Communication, members of the Kiwanis Club, the Westfield State College Foundation and individual and corporate donors.

The first scholarship will be given out this year. Ziomek said the first award will probably be $750 and said the goal is to give out a $1,000 scholarship annually.

The Scholarship Committee received seven applications for this years award and met to make a decision last Thursday. Junior Tiffany Puliafico was chosen to receive the first scholarship.

The Committee consists of Donald Treadwell, professor in the Department of Communication and director of Communication Internships, Dr. Madeliene Cahill, of the WSC Department of Communication, Abar, Brenda Mastello-Leja and Donald Blair of the Kiwanis Club of Westfield and a member of the Westfield State College Foundation.

Treadwell said that he is impressed with the quality of applicants.

"I am happy to look at quality rather than quantity," he said about receiving just seven applications.

He explained that the scholarship is not given to the student in the form of a check. The award is a credit to their college account.

Students in their junior year at WSC, who have 75 credits at the time of their application submission are qualified for the award.

The applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA for all of their courses and a minimum 3.3 GPA in their major courses.

Applicants are asked to give examples of their contributions to the Westfield State College community as well as the Westfield Community as a whole.

"It is very nice to see this now come to fruition," Treadwell said.