Ramon Torrecilha Approved as Westfield State University President
WESTFIELD — The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education formally approved Ramon Torrecilha, a lifelong educator, as the 20th president of Westfield State University (WSU). A lifelong educator, he is currently a professor of sociology at California State University Dominguez Hills.
“I am delighted by the appointment of Dr. Ramon Torrecilha as the new president of Westfield State and look forward to working with him,” said Carlos Santiago, state commissioner of Higher Education. “I want to thank the Westfield board of trustees and the search committee for delivering an exceptional pool of quality candidates, and congratulate them on an outstanding selection.”
Torrecilha will be the first Latino to serve as president in the university’s 176-year history. He is scheduled to begin his term on Jan. 25.
Westfield State’s presidential search process officially launched in January 2015, with a search committee comprising 13 members of the campus community. The pool of candidates was narrowed to a semi-finalist group of 13 in August, and on Sept. 29, the presidential search advisory committee announced three finalists: Torrecilha; Damian Fernandez, CEO and head of school at Ethical Culture Fieldston School; and Linda Vaden-Goad, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Framingham State University.
On Oct. 28, the WSU trustees voted to recommend Torrecilha as the final candidate, and the state Board of Higher Education approved the choice this week.
Previous to his current role at California State University Dominguez Hills, he served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, where he designed and implemented a cohort-based, first-year initiative to increase student retention and graduation rates. As provost, he invested in student research and supported more than 200 undergraduate research projects. He provided leadership and support to secure more than $16 million in grants and contracts and $600,000 to support faculty research and creative activity.
Torrecilha also served as executive vice president of Mills College in Oakland, Calif., during which time he served as acting president on two separate occasions. His many accomplishments at Mills include the design, implementation, and successful achievement of a capital campaign that raised more than $130 million dollars on behalf of women’s education. He also led a successful campus reaccreditation process resulting in an eight-year renewal from the Western Assoc. of Schools and Colleges and increased the alumnae participation rate by 10%.
Torrecilha earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Portland State University and his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin Madison.