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Company Notebook

WSU Advances Presidential Search
WESTFIELD — Upon recommendation of its presidential search committee, the Westfield State University board of trustees has officially ratified Diversified Search of Philadelphia to help manage the search process for the selection of the university’s 20th president. Diversified Search is woman-owned, top-10 executive-search firm with specialties in the areas of education and not-for-profits. Throughout the firm’s 40-year history, Diversified has always sought leaders that have not only strong character and credentials, but also different perspectives and views. The presidential search committee met on Jan. 5 to review proposals and conduct search-firm interviews, and selected Diversified from among four firms who submitted a request for proposal. “Diversified Search was the strongest choice due to its extensive experience in higher education,” said Steven Marcus, co-chair of the search committee. “Diversified will help the search committee, the board of trustees, and the entire Westfield State community develop the values, characteristics, and alignment of purpose needed to conduct a successful search.” With the search firm approved, a timeline will be developed, and meetings with the members of the campus community will be convened to share their opinions on what traits and characteristics the next Westfield State president should possess. Two days of open forums, moderated by Diversified Search, are scheduled for Feb. 11 and Feb. 12. “Developing a timeline and criteria will be critical for this search. We do not want the search to drag on, but we do want to take the time we need to select the very best candidate possible,” said Terrell Hill, co-chair of the presidential search committee.

MassMutual Partners with Colleges on Women in Data Science Program
SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to create a strong pipeline of qualified women professionals in the rapidly growing field of data science and related subjects, MassMutual announced it is partnering with Mount Holyoke College and Smith College to pilot a groundbreaking, higher-education initiative: the MassMutual Women in Data Science program. Aimed at providing a deep undergraduate education in an increasingly in-demand specialty, the partnership furthers MassMutual’s efforts to create and implement a comprehensive data-science curriculum, and underscores the company’s commitment to developing a strong core of data-science capabilities in the Pioneer Valley. The field of data science draws on statistical methods to answer questions in an array of disciplines in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Graduates work in fields ranging from medicine and environmental science to actuarial professions and statistics. “This initiative speaks volumes to the importance we place on developing smart, new talent in the emerging field of data science,” said Roger Crandall, chairman, president, and CEO of MassMutual. “MassMutual is proud to partner with these two outstanding colleges to further the advancement of women in this exciting and important discipline.” The $2 million, four-year program, which will begin in the fall of 2015, will be funded exclusively through MassMutual, and will provide Mount Holyoke and Smith with resources to hire five visiting faculty positions, as well as support the development of a data-science-focused curriculum. The faculty would teach in such areas as natural language processing, machine learning, behavioral economics, applied statistics, and various computer science specialties. Additionally, students in either of the two colleges will be able to take courses with any of the associated professors. Instructors at both Mount Holyoke and Smith noted that students at liberal-arts colleges who are pursuing studies and research in fields such as computer science, mathematics, and statistics are increasingly seeking to connect their technical skills directly to real-world challenges and events. “Mount Holyoke College is committed to educating a talented and diverse group of future women leaders, and to innovation in this emerging field, a field that is all about asking the right questions, identifying patterns, generating narratives from those patterns, and responding ethically to the challenges posed by data,” said Sonya Stephens, Mount Holyoke’s vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of Faculty. “This partnership with MassMutual offers a tremendous opportunity to connect liberal learning and the Data Science initiative at the college to opportunities that exist in both the academy and the workforce.” Added Smith College Provost Katherine Rowe, “Smith has long been known for educating women who lead in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. This collaboration will enable Smith to explore new directions in an emerging discipline where we are seeing increasing excitement among students. It creates opportunities for Smith students and will significantly expand the pool of talented women leaders in this field.”
 
ESB Reports Solid 2014; Assets Now Exceed $1B
EASTHAMPTON — At Easthampton Savings Bank’s recent quarterly meeting, President and CEO Matthew Sosik reported that the bank’s total assets surpassed $1 billion at the end of 2014. Also, Bozena Dabek, senior vice president and CFO, reported that the bank’s assets were up $37 million from a year ago, an increase of 3.7%. “Easthampton Savings Bank continues to be one of the most highly capitalized banks in the area, with a capital ratio of 12.9%,” she added. Dabek noted that total loans increased $47 million over the last quarter and now stand at just over $773 million, and that the bank’s deposit growth was more than $40 million, or 5% from a year ago. Deposits were up $18 million for the quarter, and total deposits are now $869 million, she added. Said Sosik, “2014 was another in a long line of profitable and successful years for the bank. We met and exceeded all of our goals for asset growth and earnings, as well as our goals for charitable giving within the communities we serve. Overall, 2014 was just a great year and was the result of a lot of hard work and dedication from our board and staff.”

Braman Termite and Pest Elimination Turns 125
AGAWAM — Braman Termite and Pest Elimination, a leading provider of pest-management services in Southern New England, is celebrating 125 years in business. The business, originally founded in Boston in 1890, moved its headquarters to Agawam in 1980. “In 1890, pest control was usually done at night or when no one was around,” said Jerry Lazarus, third-generation owner of Braman Termite and Pest Elimination. At the time, pest control was primarily done with kitchen-sink concoctions made with ingredients like arsenic, which has a very distinct and unpleasant smell. “The common view was that, if it didn’t stink, it didn’t work. Nowadays, if it stinks, you have a problem,” said Lazarus. “Pest-control product development has come so far that they can be done in very controlled environments without displacement — we can even treat hospital rooms without moving patients, if needed.” Meanwhile, technology like e-mail, cell phones, bar-code scanning, and global positioning systems have helped Braman continually provide fast, efficient, and customer-centered service. “Technological advancements have been adopted by the pest-management industry to better communicate with customers and create efficiencies to help us be competitive and profitable,” said Lazarus.

Jones Whitsett Architects Awarded GCC Child Care Center Project
GREENFIELD — Greenfield-based Jones Whitsett Architects has been chosen to design Greenfield Community College’s new Child Care Center. The Mass. Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) selected Jones Whitsett to design a state-of-the-art facility that will combine a healthy, creative educational setting with maximum environmental efficiency. Jones Whitsett, led by Principal Architect Margo Jones, is an award-winning architectural practice with three decades of experience providing architectural services on municipal, cultural, and historic-preservation projects. Over the past two decades, school design has become the largest part of Jones Whitsett’s portfolio. The new Child Care Center will be the first on-campus child-care center at GCC since GCC’s Head Start program ended 15 years ago when renovation began on the College’s main building. The new center will be built on the college’s main campus and will serve the families of GCC staff, faculty, and students, as well as families from throughout the community. It will also serve as the ‘lab school’ for students in GCC’s Education programs to do their field work. “The competition for this project was stiff, with many good architects from throughout the state eager to take on the work,” said GCC President Bob Pura. “We are especially pleased that the DCAMM Review Board chose Greenfield-based Jones Whitsett Architects to design GCC’s new Child Care Center. Margo Jones’ understanding of GCC is long-standing. This brings an added dimension and understanding of this community to the design of the center. Knowing that Jones Whitsett is designing the center elevates our excitement about the project. We are hopeful that children, teachers, parents, and GCC’s students will be entering the new Child Care Center by January of 2017.” Responding to DCAMM’s decision, Jones said, “Jones Whitsett Architects is truly thrilled to have been selected as the design firm for this important project. It is a very exciting project, which will utilize many of our strengths and passions — healthy, creative educational environments, cutting-edge sustainable design, participatory and reclamation landscape architecture, and early-childhood design that will be state of the art. Certainly, affordable, high-quality child care for GCC is needed, and will be a huge resource for the college and its community. We are especially honored to be chosen to follow in the footsteps of the previous design team, who, in partnership with GCC and DCAMM, made beautiful improvements to the main building at the campus. We have every confidence we can meet and possibly exceed this very high bar for interactive, accessible architecture.” Reflecting on the need for the Child Care Center, Professor of Education Kate Finnegan noted that, “in order to flourish as younger human beings, children need loving care, food, shelter, heat, clothing, and education. In addition, educational programs like those that will be housed in the new Center offer protection, foster resiliency, and create opportunity.” Working on the Child Care Center design along with Jones Whitsett will be Keith Miller of Miller Design LLC, which has designed more than 100 child-care centers in the U.S. and abroad. “We are excited to be part of the design team with Jones Whitsett Architects,” Miller said. “We look forward to sharing our expertise with the team and community in creating a building that will in turn shape the future of the community through the children, faculty, and students.”

Berkshire Bank Announces $2 Million in Philanthropic Grants
PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank Foundation awarded a total of $1,518,133 in grants to nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont during 2014. The grants supported important education and community development initiatives as well as health, human-service, and cultural programs. In addition, Berkshire Bank provided $500,622 in community sponsorships, raising its total contributions in the community to over $2 million. “We are so pleased to continue providing critical funding to hundreds of nonprofit organizations across our footprint,” said Lori Gazzillo, vice president and director of the Berkshire Bank Foundation. “Our 2014 grants have supported programs and projects that are enhancing economic opportunities and improving the quality of life for members of our communities. On behalf of our entire Berkshire Bank team, we are honored to be able to give back in such a significant way.” The bank’s charitable foundation and bank sponsorships fund nonprofit organizations and programs in communities that Berkshire Bank serves. While the foundation’s funding priorities are education and community and economic-development projects, it also supports youth, cultural, and human-service organizations. The bank also maintains an annual scholarship program for high-school seniors, which recently launched for 2015. Meanwhile, recognizing that being a good corporate citizen and community partner is about more than writing a check, Berkshire administers an employee volunteer program called the X-Team, which provides employees with paid time off to volunteer during regular business hours. Through the program, more than 70% of Berkshire Bank’s employees donated in excess of 40,000 hours of service to benefit community organizations across the bank’s footprint. Berkshire Bank’s philanthropic and community volunteerism efforts were honored in 2014 with the Capital Region Community Impact Award, the United Way Agar Volunteerism Award, two New England Financial Marketing Awards, and being named by the Boston Business Journal as one of Massachusetts’ Most Charitable Companies for the second consecutive year. Berkshire Bank accepts requests for financial support at www.berkshirebank.com/giving. All requests must be submitted through the online system in order to be considered. Organizations interested in seeking funding are encouraged to read the foundation’s funding guidelines prior to applying for support. Complete guidelines for those seeking grants or bank community sponsorships are available on the website.

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