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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) announced that Chicopee-based U.S. Tsubaki Automotive (USTA) made a gift of $12,500 to support the university’s colleges of Business and Engineering’s Product Development and Innovation (PDI) course over the next five years.

“U.S. Tsubaki is pleased to work with Western New England University to advance this important program and curriculum,” said Dan Butterfield, president of USTA. “We value innovation and seek to assist in the development of future business and engineering students. We look forward to many years of innovations with this course and Western New England University.”

Taught in the fall semester, PDI is comprised of business and engineering students who develop an idea at the onset of class and grow the concept into a limited, functional prototype supported by a business plan.

“The PDI course is a capstone course, which is a culmination of the core courses offered to business students,” said Sharianne Walker, dean of the WNE College of Business. “The cross-functional teams and development of innovations are critical to developing entrepreneurial thinking that will guide our students in their future careers.”

Student teams demonstrate their project innovations at the annual PDI Showcase held the first week of December. Attending the event are members of the university’s board of trustees and several area economic-development leaders and investors. The attendees invest ‘Golden Bear investment dollars’ into the innovations they believe have the most commercial potential. Some of the innovations continue as senior design projects, while others compete in the Grinspoon Spirit Awards and the Draper Competition. The university patents select innovations that have the most potential.

“This grant is foundational to our prototyping efforts and helps teach the students about how to innovate efficiently,” said Hossein Cheraghi, dean of the WNE College of Engineering. “We are pleased that U.S. Tsubaki, who is an important community business, values innovation and nurturing student talent from Western New England University and the College of Engineering.”

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University will host its Stuff-a-Cruiser Toy Drive event on Monday, Dec. 6 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside the University Commons. Donations from the public are welcomed.

Bring a new unwrapped toy to the University Commons, where officers will park a cruiser to collect donations for the benefit of Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield.

Shriners has been leading specialty pediatric healthcare since 1922, delivering specialty pediatric care to children around the world, providing a comprehensive range of treatments and services that help improve the quality of children’s lives and allow them to reach their full potential. Children up to age 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal-cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the families’ ability to pay.

“This year, our Love to the Rescue goal is to fill the Western New England University’s entire fleet of five cruisers,” said university Police Officer Alexandria Capen-Parizo, the event organizer, adding that monetary donations are also welcomed. “Directly after the event, members of Public Safety and Student Senate will purchase toys that fill the need gaps as outlined by Shriners.”

This event is sponsored by the Western New England University Department of Public Safety.

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SPRINGFIELD — The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Western New England University (WNE) announced a new master of science degree in pharmacogenomics degree starting in the fall of 2022.

Pharmacogenomics is a fast-growing field that helps medical practitioners prescribe personalized treatment plans to patients based on how they may respond to medications due to their DNA sequence. Pharmacogenomics supports personalized or precision medicine, which explores a patient’s genetics, environment, and lifestyle as a way to craft a treatment plan that will best suit the patient. The goal of this modern approach to medication therapy is to limit adverse effects while optimizing response and beneficial outcomes.

The master of science in pharmacogenomics degree from WNE — the only degree of this type in New England — prepares graduates for careers that will revolutionize the delivery of healthcare and make the most of emerging opportunities from basic laboratory research to clinical implementation of personalized healthcare.

“Students will work directly with pharmaceutical scientists in our state-of-the-art laboratories and clinical practitioners at healthcare facilities that utilize genetic testing, which will allow for students to develop skills and expertise necessary for a variety of careers in research or at medical institutions,” said Dr. Shannon Kinney, asssociate professor of Pharmacology and coordinator of the new program.

This new master’s degree program joins the doctor of pharmacy program, whose class of 2020 scored an impressively high pass rate (93.2%) on the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) — the third consecutive year the college’s pass rate has exceeded the national average.

As future scientists, students will benefit from mentorship and research opportunities with WNE faculty who are not only outstanding classroom teachers, but actively engaged in a wide range of research. Dean John Pezzuto has recently been named by Stanford University among the top 2% of the world’s most-cited scholars, ranking him #21 among 80,622 researchers in the medicinal and biomolecular chemistry field. WNE graduates possess skill sets prized by employers and essential to careers in discovery and innovation: divergent thinking, communication, teamwork, leadership, and an entrepreneurial mindset.

To learn more about the MS in pharmacogenomics and the admissions process, click here or call (413) 796-2073 to speak with an admissions counselor. The application deadline for fall 2022 is May 1.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) School of Law’s Center for Social Justice and Springfield Public Forum will present an interview with Ria Tabacco Mar, director of ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. as part of the Center for Social Justice’s Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ Speaker Series, which provides a venue for conversations about legal issues significant to the LGBTQ+ community.

The virtual event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration for this event is required by clicking here.

Mar oversees the ACLU’s women’s-rights litigation. Previously, she was a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Project, where she fought gender stereotypes, sex segregation, and attempts to use religion to discriminate in schools, at work, and in public places.

She will be joined by WNE School of Law Professor Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, who will moderate a Q&A-style event.

“We are incredibly lucky to welcome Ria Tabacco Mar as the center’s Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ speaker this year,” center Director Ariel Clemmer said. “She is a passionate advocate for change working on today’s cutting-edge social-justice issues.”

Mar was part of the ACLU’s litigation team representing Aimee Stephens and Don Zarda, whose cases were decided as part of the recent Supreme Court ruling recognizing that federal employment-law protections apply to LGBTQ people. She also led the ACLU’s team in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the case in which a same-sex couple was refused a wedding cake because they are gay.

Mar is a frequent commentator on gender-justice issues, appearing on television programs including All In with Chris Hayes, PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, and PBS’s Firing Line with Margaret Hoover, and has authored opinion pieces for the New York Times, Washington Post, and other outlets. She has been recognized on the Root 100, an annual list of the most influential African-Americans ages 25 to 45, and as one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Assoc. She graduated from New York University School of Law and Harvard College.

The Gervino-Ward LGBTQ+ Speaker Series provides a venue for conversations about legal issues important to the LGBTQ+ community by bringing prominent leaders, speakers, and advocates to engage with the Western New England University School of Law Community. The mission of this series is to draw awareness to emerging trends in LGBTQ+ law and continuing social-justice concerns that might affect LGBTQ+ clients or practitioners. Lectures will be held during the lunch hour and are open to students, alumni, the university community, and the general public.

This series is made possible by a donation from WNE School of Law alumna Elena Gervino; her wife, Kathleen Ward; and their two daughters.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) School of Law’s Clason Speaker Series will host “The Racial Muslim: When Racism Quashes Religious Freedom” on Wednesday, Nov. 10 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Law School Commons. The event will feature Sahar Aziz, professor of Law, Middle East legal scholar, and chancellor’s social justice scholar at Rutgers University Law School and founding director of the Center for Security, Race, and Rights. The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

Aziz’s groundbreaking book of the same title demonstrates how race and religion intersect to create what she calls the “racial Muslim.” Comparing discrimination against immigrant Muslims with the prejudicial treatment of Jews, Catholics, Mormons, and African-American Muslims during the 20th century, Aziz explores the gap between America’s aspiration for and fulfillment of religious freedom. With America’s demographics rapidly changing from a majority white Protestant nation to a multi-racial, multi-religious society, the book seeks to understand how our past continues to shape our present, to the detriment of our nation’s future.

The Clason Speaker Series presents expert lectures to the WNE School of Law. The series is named after Charles Clason, a prominent local attorney and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who held the position of dean of the School of Law from 1954 to 1970. Today, the purpose of the Charles and Emma Clason Endowment Fund is to host speakers who will enhance the academic environment of the School of Law and the university.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University will host high-school students and their parents at an open house on Sunday, Nov. 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting in the University Commons. The event is free. Advance registration is requested. Visit wne.edu/openhouse or call (413) 782-1321 to register.

This undergraduate open house is intended for all prospective students, regardless of their year in high school. It is an opportunity to come to campus to get a sense of the university community, while learning about the wide variety of academic programs and emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration.

Students and parents will have the chance to tour the campus and a first-year residence hall, meet current students, get a general overview of the admissions and financial-aid process, and have academic questions answered. The day concludes with an exhibit where students can gather more information on student clubs and activities, honors programs, athletic opportunities at both the NCAA and recreational levels, as well as hear from the Career Development Center regarding the varied internship and career opportunities students are receiving.

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SPRINGFIELD — Andrea Kwaczala, assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering (BME) in the Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering, has been named a 2021 Woman of Innovation for her efforts in post-secondary academic innovation and leadership by the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc.

Kwaczala was among 11 exceptional Connecticut women recognized for their achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the 17th annual Women of Innovation awards held virtually on Oct. 14.

Women of Innovation finalists are nominated by their peers, co-workers, and mentors and are selected based on their professional experience, history of innovation, ability to think creatively and solve problems, and demonstration of leadership. The Post-Secondary Academic Innovation and Leadership award is granted to a woman working in the post-secondary academic setting who has created and fostered STEM programs in curriculum development, student research, and teacher-student collaborations. Each finalist has secured outside funding to support her work and/or received peer recognition for her leadership and innovation.

“I would like to thank the Society of Women Engineers of Hartford, especially Brenda Lisitano, for nominating me for this prestigious award. Being a member of this vibrant community has been a catalyst for my career,” Kwaczala said. “This would not be possible without my BME department colleagues and the hard work of my dedicated design students who have inspired me with their innovations and determination to build assistive technology.”

The prestigious awards were earned by women innovators, role models, and leaders in STEM disciplines. They were selected from a field of 26 finalists — the scientists, researchers, academics, manufacturers, student leaders, entrepreneurs, and technicians who are catalysts for scientific advancement throughout Connecticut.

“As these finalists demonstrate, women in STEM in Connecticut are leading innovation, achieving breakthroughs, and encouraging girls to do that and more,” said Giovanni Tomasi, president and chief technology officer of RSL Fiber Systems and CTC board chair. “Connecticut’s economy is expanding and becoming more robust in great part by achieving and sustaining leadership in STEM. These are the people whose contributions are critical in our state’s renaissance.”

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) will host high-school students and their parents at an open house on Sunday, Oct. 17 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting in the University Commons. The event is free, but advance registration is requested. Visit wne.edu/openhouse to register, or call (413) 782-1321.

This undergraduate open house is intended for all prospective students, regardless of their year in high school. It is an opportunity to come to campus to get a sense of the university community, while learning about WNE’s wide variety of academic programs and emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration.

Students and parents will have the chance to tour the campus and a first-year residence hall, meet current students, get a general overview of the admissions and financial-aid process, and have academic questions answered. The day concludes with an exhibit where students can gather more information on student clubs and activities, honors programs, athletic opportunities at both the NCAA and recreational levels, as well as hear from the Career Development Center regarding the varied internship and career opportunities students are receiving.

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SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering Laboratory for Education and Application Prototypes (LEAP), a state-of-the-art optics/photonics training center, has been established through a grant of $2,581,109 from the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM). [email protected] is part of a national effort to advance state-of-the-art manufacturing with the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics consortium.

With the support of the grant funding, WNE partnered with Convergent Photonics in Chicopee and Springfield Technical Community College for the development of the new advanced-manufacturing center, located at Convergent Photonics. The LEAP lab, only the fourth of its kind in the state, will focus on product development, educational training, and collaborative research in the field of integrated photonics.

The [email protected] facility features six instrumentation and prototyping workstations with capabilities including tunable lasers and optical power meters, polarimeters, and polarization controllers; optical-spectrum analyzers and free-space optics; electronic signal generators, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and power supplies; and PCB fabrication using subtractive and additive techniques.

The grant was part of the CAM Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M212), which has made a $100 million commitment to manufacturing innovation through its capital grant program and is collaborating on more than 60 projects connecting manufacturers with universities and companies.

According to CAM, Massachusetts has made a substantial commitment to developing the Manufacturing USA infrastructure within the state’s academic, research, and manufacturing industry. Through the creation of sector-specific Manufacturing USA Centers, M212 will advance innovations and job growth within the state through cross-collaboration among companies, universities, national labs, government, incubators, accelerators, and other academic and training institutions.

Funded through the M212 program, LEAP is designed to support AIM Photonics, an industry-driven, public-private partnership that focuses the nation’s capabilities and expertise to capture critical global manufacturing leadership in a technology that is both essential to national security and positioned to provide a compelling return on investment to the American economy.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) College of Engineering Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Dr. Andrea Kwaczala has been named an Engineering Unleashed 2021 Fellow by the Kern Foundation. The honor recognizes faculty for their contribution to engineering education, specifically entrepreneurial engineering.

“Dr. Kwaczala is truly an ambassador of excellence for your institution and is distinguished both through a Fellows Project and through interactions with the greater Engineering Unleashed community,” said Douglas Melton, program director for the Kern Family Foundation.

This grant will support the Making with Purpose Workshop Series. These are monthly hands-on events running throughout this academic year. The workshop is intended to introduce students to the entrepreneurial mindset in an inclusive community within the makerspace facilities within the College of Engineering. Some activities align with Kwaczala’s research in assistive technology, such as building rapid prototypes of body-powered prosthetic devices and low-tech assistive technology to improve activities of daily living. Other activities are geared toward understanding a product’s marketspace and learning about manufacturing in scale-up, such as glowing LED pumpkins for Halloween decor and laser-cut jewelry to sell at the holidays. The projects are intended to promote technical skills and coach students to use a growth mindset.

“I want to create a technical space on campus that is welcome to all people, designed specifically towards underrepresented people,” Kwaczala said. “I try to create a place where students can take risks, ask questions, and learn technical skills like soldering, using power tools, and constructing physical devices. I believe, when we use our skills to focus on products that make a difference in society, we can improve students’ engineering self-efficacy and help them to persist in engineering.”

Engineering Unleashed is a community of 3,800 faculty members from 160 institutions of higher education, powered by KEEN, a 50-partner collaborative that shares a mission to graduate engineers with an entrepreneurial mindset who are equipped to create societal, personal, and economic value. The Engineering Unleashed faculty-development workshops are elements of KEEN’s multi-institutional activities. Kwaczala is one of 27 individuals from institutions of higher education across the country to receive this distinction.

“Being named an Engineering Unleashed fellow shows Dr. Kwaczala’s passion for learning, teaching, and practicing the entrepreneurial mindset,” said Dr. Rob Gettens, chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Western New England University. “Dr. Kwaczala’s enthusiasm for engineering design and the Making with Purpose series is genuinely infectious. As a leader, Dr. Kwaczala teaches our students to be leaders themselves, gaining confidence in practical engineering and ‘making’ skills, and then spreading the entrepreneurial mindset beyond the university. Dr. Kwaczala is indeed a leader and innovator in engineering education.”

Through their home institutions, fellows are awarded a $10,000 grant that may be used in a number of ways: to advance their project/module, develop a new product/module, participate in conferences, support undergraduate student assistants, or pay for part of their salary.

The nomination and naming process began with Kwaczala’s initiative to participate in one of the many Engineering Unleashed faculty-development workshops. These workshops are designed and delivered by a collaborative group of subject-matter experts who serve as faculty members at more than 25 institutions. They attract faculty participants from across the country, focusing on the development and application of an entrepreneurial mindset whether in teaching and learning, research, industry, or leadership.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) will host a college fair sponsored by the New England Assoc. for College Admission Counseling on Tuesday, Oct. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Caprio Alumni Healthful Living Center located at 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield.

Representatives from more than 100 colleges and universities will be available to speak with high-school students and their parents about their respective institutions and the college-admission process. The event is free and open to the public. Masks are currently required.

Prior to the start of the fair, the university will host a free 45-minute College and Financial Aid Awareness workshop beginning at 5 p.m. in the Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy. “This workshop will give parents and students a great introduction into the entire college-search and financial-aid process — a process that can get confusing,” said Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing at WNE. No registration is required to attend the free workshop.

All high-school students are encouraged to attend this college fair, the largest to be held in Western Mass. this fall. An up-to-date list of the colleges that have confirmed attendance can be found at www1.wne.edu/become-a-student/visit/college-fair.cfm.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) has been ranked fourth in Top Performers on Social Mobility among National Universities in Massachusetts by U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 edition of America’s Best Colleges, an in-depth look at more than 1,800 institutions of higher education nationwide.

“This is a brand-new category for Western New England, and we couldn’t be prouder of this distinction,” said Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing.

The Top Performers on Social Mobility ranking measures the extent that schools enrolled and graduated students who received federal Pell grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually). According to U.S. News & World Report, economically disadvantaged students are less likely to finish college, and some colleges are more successful than others at advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students who are awarded Pell grants.

“This category looks at the percent of entering students who are Pell-eligible and our six-year graduation rate among those receiving the Pell funding,” Gross said. “Our number was 32% on the entering class and 58% on six-year graduation rate, which is a solid number compared to our national peers.”

The U.S. News rankings focus on measures of academic excellence, with schools evaluated on hundreds of data points covering up to 16 measures of academic quality. Individual colleges and universities are compared with institutions that share similar characteristics and academic missions.

“Having moved from the Regional to National University category in 2020, I am pleased to see Western New England climbing the ranks and now competing at a much higher level with some of our prestigious neighbors — Harvard, Yale, and Northeastern,” said WNE President Robert Johnson. The university improved its overall ranking to 213th in the nation this year, moving up 14 places from 2021.

Western New England University College of Engineering continues to be top-ranked in the Undergraduate Engineering (no doctorate) program category. The ranking is based on survey results conducted by U.S. News of deans and faculty members of undergraduate engineering programs at peer institutions accredited by ABET, the engineering accrediting body.

“A university educates leaders, problem solvers, and lifelong learners that will adapt, compete, and thrive in careers yet to be imagined,” Johnson said. “As a national university, we offer the breadth and depth of a comprehensive institution, supported by individualized attention preparing graduates to be not only work-ready, but also world-ready as well. WNE is a quintessential model of the new traditional university.”

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SPRINGFIELD — The Department of Athletics at Western New England University (WNE) recently announced the addition of women’s wrestling to its athletics program. This will be the University’s 21st varsity sport and the first NCAA DIII women’s wrestling team in New England.

National Wrestling Coaches Assoc. (NWCA) Executive Director Mike Moyer is excited about the addition of the program to WNE. “We are forever grateful for the pioneering efforts of Western New England University to add women’s intercollegiate wrestling to its athletics program,” he said. “This new women’s wrestling program represents the first NCAA DIII-affiliated team in New England. With the exploding population of young, aspiring girls who are wrestling in New England, the WNE women’s wrestling program is uniquely positioned to be wildly successful in this endeavor.”

The women’s wrestling program is planned to begin its inaugural season in the fall of the 2022-23 academic year with Mike Sugermeyer, head coach for men’s wrestling, tasked with recruiting the first official class. The university will hire a women’s head coach prior to the start of the season.

There are currently only 25 women’s wrestling programs at the NCAA DIII level. WNE will be the first in Massachusetts, compared to the 140 high-school programs in the state.

“Women’s wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. Starting the women’s wrestling program allows us to provide an equal opportunity addition to young women who aspire to compete at the highest level,” said Lori Mayhew-Wood, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator. “I am excited to be able to offer other opportunities to women in sports at Western New England and for the university to have the opportunity to recruit nationally across the country to build the women’s program.”

Two-time Olympian and WNE alumnus Rodney Smith was enthusiastic to hear about the addition of the program. “What an amazing opportunity for wrestling and our local scholar-athletes here in New England,” he said. “This move is timely and on the pulse of history. Coach Sugermeyer’s focus and due diligence has added to our infrastructure, wrestling culture, and tradition. He truly carries the torch for the future of WNE wrestling. I definitely feel that torch has been raised higher and shines brighter than ever today.”

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SPRINGFIELD  — Western New England University College of Business will honor 1982 alumnus James “Jimmy” Geyer on Friday, Sept. 10. A brief ceremony of remembrance will be held at noon in front of Churchill Hall, which houses the College of Business.

Geyer, who worked as a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed 20 years ago in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. He was on the 105th floor when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the building. Geyer was a general business major and native of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

According to College of Business Dean Sharianne Walker, he was known as an outstanding business student and campus leader who was committed to always helping others and asking for nothing in return.

“It is important for us to take a moment at this 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center attack to remember Jimmy as one of our own,” Walker said. “It is important that all of us carry on his legacy of service and honor the promise that we will never forget the lives of those lost and those families that were devastated on that September morning.”

Geyer excelled in finance, and as an alumnus, he continued to stay connected as a mentor to College of Business students. He played football for the Golden Bears for four years and was a member of the college’s first NCAA Division III program in 1981. His number, 22, was officially retired at the Oct. 13, 2001 football game. He was a member of the Golden Bear lacrosse team and also had a passion for golf.

Geyer was featured in an NCAA News article about former college athletes lost in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Geyer was 41 years old when he died. He left behind his wife, Cathy, and three children, as well as his parents, two brothers, and a sister. The Jimmy Geyer Award for Courage is bestowed annually to a deserving member of the football team.

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SPRINGFIELD — Mercedes Maskalik, formerly the director of Marketing at CUE Inc., a membership and professional-development nonprofit organization, has been appointed assistant vice president for Marketing and Communication at Western New England University. Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing Bryan Gross announced the appointment, citing Maskalik’s high degree of professionalism, technical skill, and expertise.

“We conducted a national search and had hundreds of highly qualified applicants,” he said. “Mercedes really stood out, not only because of her knowledge and skill, but her positive attitude and energy over the campus community. As the university continues to grow, we feel Mercedes has the exact experience that will help us continue to thrive.”

In her new role, Maskalik will oversee the university’s Division of Marketing and External Affairs, whose mission and purpose is to broadly and creatively share the story of Western New England University regionally, nationally, and internationally.

“I am honored to join the WNE community as we begin this new and exciting second century,” Maskalik said. “I am excited to be part of an institution that is committed to preparing students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in any field they choose, while also embracing the importance of preparing them to flourish in the opportunities of today and the possibilities of tomorrow with an agile mindset and entrepreneurial spirit. I look forward to collaborating with such accomplished faculty, staff, and students to share our great story and enhance the visibility of the university.”

In her previous position as director of Marketing at CUE, Maskalik was responsible for the development, coordination, and management of all marketing and communications efforts to promote the CUE brand, the professional learning community, and the professional learning events.

She received her master’s degree in organizational communications from Central Connecticut State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Connecticut State University. An active member of a number of international associations, Maskalik’s professional affiliations include the American Marketing Assoc., the Public Relations Society of America, and the European Assoc. of Communications Directors. She is the co-author of Social Marketing Environmental Issues, a theoretically grounded text on social-marketing strategies for influencing environmental behaviors.

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SPRINGFIELD — The Department of Athletics at Western New England University will host the 22nd annual Golden Bear Athletics Golf Classic at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow on Monday, Sept. 20 at 12:30 p.m. Registration is taking place through Monday, Sept. 13. The cost for individual participation is $175 per person. Foursomes are welcome.

“The athletics program at Western New England University is an integral part of the institution and to the overall development of the student-athlete,” said Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Lori Mayhew-Wood, who is organizing this event. “Division III athletes compete at their own expense without the benefit of scholarships. Proceeds from the Classic will directly benefit student-athletes who compete in 20 varsity sports.”

In addition, the university offers an intramural program that reaches the entire campus community. This tournament will help ensure their athletic experience.

The tournament will be a scramble format, and golf carts will be provided. Competitions during the day will include closest to the pin, straightest drive, and longest drive. There will also be mulligan tickets, a raffle, and a putting contest throughout the day.

Each year, the Classic honors outstanding individuals who have made a positive impact on Western New England University and its athletics family. This year’s honoree will be WNEU President Robert Johnson. A cocktail reception and luncheon honoring him will take place upon tournament completion.

“College athletics programs promote school spirit and unity, which allow students to take pride in and feel connected to their institutions,” Johnson said. “Students who participate as student-athletes glean critical life lessons they will apply as leaders in their professions and communities, such as sportsmanship, time management, and interaction with diverse groups. Their athletics endeavors enrich and augment the education they receive inside the classroom. Now more than ever, it is essential that we protect and preserve the resources to ensure continuity of these opportunities.”

For more information and registration or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit wnegoldenbears.com/landing/index.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) announced the recipients of the 2021 PeoplesBank Award. The award, first given in 2020, is made possible by a grant to WNEU from PeoplesBank to advance innovation and entrepreneurship across the university and the entire Pioneer Valley ecosystem.

Mary Schoonmaker, associate professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Western New England, applauded the students’ spirit and innovation. “We continue to be encouraged to see the breadth of businesses that have applied for awards this year. It is rewarding to see these student-led ventures made possible through this PeoplesBank grant.”

Matthew Bannister, first vice president, Marketing and Corporate Responsibility at PeoplesBank, congratulated each of the student-business initiatives. “We are pleased that our grant could assist these student teams in continuing to develop their businesses. Small businesses, powered by entrepreneurs, are vital to the economic health of our region, and we congratulate these six new ventures and Western New England University for their efforts in this area. This is exactly what we hoped would transpire when we formed this partnership with Western New England.”

This year, the PeoplesBank Award at Western New England University went to the following innovative and entrepreneurial student teams:

• Jeremy Bowler, a computer engineering major, for his work on an electronically controlled, continuously variable transmission (ECVT) for small-engine applications. The funding is being used to continue to advance the prototype;

• Tytianie Brown, a sciences major, who runs a full-service beauty-services business. Brown is using the funding for beauty-services equipment;

• Caleb Miller, a mechanical engineering major and the co-founder of Woodside Getaways, an RV rental startup. Miller is using the funding to provision the RV and complete the rental unit, which is already booked for summer travel by Woodside’s clients;

• Dante Talamini, an engineering major and team leader for Frost Alert, a wearable smart device that monitors skin temperature and alerts the wearer if they are beginning to experience frostbite. The team will be using the funding to continue to advance their prototype development;

• Ethan Valdes, an entrepreneurship major with a minor in health sciences, who co-founded Bus Boiz, a social-media experience startup that captures travel experiences. The team was awarded funding for a drone to assist with aerial shots from their travel adventures; and

• Shemika White, an MBA graduate student and founder of Notes of Beauty chemical-free beauty products. White is using the funding to purchase materials and product testing.

Western New England University aspires to develop students’ entrepreneurial mindset with its innovation and entrepreneurial programs. Through co-curricular efforts, such as Startup Weekend and the Product Development and Innovation course, students are able to create innovations that have market potential. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, located on campus, is a dedicated space for student startup teams, club meetings, and maker space for student-led innovations. Past WNEU student teams have advanced their innovations by participating in the Harold Grinspoon Foundation Spirit Awards, the Valley Venture Mentors Accelerator, and Draper Competitions.

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SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNEU) College of Engineering has announced a new graduate engineering certificate in artificial intelligence (AI). Applications are currently being accepted for the coming fall.

Focusing on the theoretical foundation and practical application of AI and taught by expert WNEU faculty mentors, this certificate consists of four three-credit graduate courses: “Applied Fuzzy Logic,” “Machine Learning Concepts,” “Machine Learning Applications,” and “Applied Neural Networks.” Each course offered in a hybrid format, providing students the flexibility to participate either fully online, fully in class, or any combination of the two. The 12 course credits earned in this certificate can be transferred to the master of science in electrical engineering degree.

“Artificial Intelligence has become one of the most influential technologies since the turn of the century,” said Dr. Neeraj Magotra, associate professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering at WNEU. “AI and machine learning are driving the future of engineering, from big data to healthcare; smartphones to self-driving vehicles; robotics, aeronautics, and medical devices to supply-chain management. According to Forbes, jobs requesting AI or machine-learning skills are expected to increase by 71% in the next 5 years.”

Given that AI can mean different things to different people with a diversity of application areas of interest, this AI certificate program can be taken by people with diverse backgrounds to advance their expertise and career opportunities in this wide-ranging field.

This certificate is offered through the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at WNEU, a leader in engineering graduate education ranked among U.S. News and World Report’s Top 100 Undergraduate Programs.

The Fall Graduate term begins Sept. 27 for this accelerated, 11-week program. For more information, visit wne.edu/grad.

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SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University Small Business Legal Clinic is accepting applications from entrepreneurs and small-business owners seeking legal assistance for the fall 2021 semester.

Under faculty supervision, law students assist clients with legal issues, including choice of entity, employment policies, contract drafting, regulatory compliance, and intellectual-property issues relating to trademark applications and copyright. This is a free service available to local businesses that might not have the resources to obtain such services. Click here for more information or to complete an online application.

The Small Business Clinic has assisted more than 350 small businesses since it opened, said Robert Statchen, associate clinical professor of Law. “The clinic is a great resource for entrepreneurs who lack the finances to retain an attorney. By using the clinic’s services, businesses can avoid problems by getting legal issues addressed early and correctly. It also provides students with a great opportunity to get real-world experience.”

The clinic asks small-business owners to submit their applications by Sunday, Aug. 15. Applications received after that date will be considered if additional resources are available. Students will begin providing services in early September. For more information, call the Legal Clinic at (413) 782-1469 or e-mail Marie Fletcher, Clinical Programs administrator, at [email protected].

The School of Law Small Business Legal Clinic was established to afford law students with an opportunity to provide practical consultation to entrepreneurs starting and building small businesses in the community. This initiative strengthens alliances within the community by using the resources of the university to foster new business development.

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SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to incorporate antiracism education and training into the student experience, Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law has added a new Antiracism and Cultural Competency (ARCC) graduation requirement beginning with incoming students in the fall of 2022.

This requirement offers students more than a dozen options from substantive courses relating to legal history, structural inequality, intersectionality, discrimination, civil rights, and theories of subordination, focusing on cultural context and cultural competency. The list of eligible courses includes “Race, Racism, & the Law,” “Business Law from an Antiracist Perspective,” “Gender & the Law,” “Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession,” and many others.

“Western New England University School of Law has a long and proud history of incorporating social justice and antiracism into the education we offer. We are delighted to be in the vanguard of law schools formalizing that commitment in this way, which teaches our students about key areas of the law, but also prepares them well for the lawyering of today and tomorrow,” said School of Law Dean Sudha Setty. “Further, a cornerstone of our mission is the belief that the study of law must embrace the notion that different beliefs, backgrounds, and opinions are critical components of a well-rounded learning environment.”

WNEU School of Law currently offers a wide range of elective courses, experiential learning opportunities, engagement opportunities through its Center for Social Justice, pro bono opportunities, student organizations, and vibrant speaker series that serve to broaden students’ knowledge on legal issues related to racial justice, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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SPRINGFIELD — In celebration of the class of 2021, Western New England University (WNEU) will confer doctoral, law, pharmacy, occupational therapy, and master’s degrees during its 2021 graduate commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 16 at 1 p.m. The themed event, titled “The Future Is Ours, Let’s Make It Golden” will be a high-spirited, virtual ceremony connecting graduates and their families as they watch from home.

District Attorney Anthony Gulluni will be this year’s keynote speaker and will be awarded the prestigious President’s Medallion for his commitment and dedication to building safer communities. The award, established in 2002, is bestowed upon those who have distinguished themselves in a particular field or in service to an important cause that has benefitted society locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally. The President’s Medallion also recognizes men and women in diverse fields who are role models worthy of emulation by all.

Gulluni was sworn into office as Hampden District Attorney in January 2015 and is currently in the middle of serving his second four-year term. He is a lifelong Springfield resident who attended local schools, including WNEU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 2003 and juris doctorate in 2007.

As DA, Gulluni has promoted his vision of safer communities by innovative and significant investment in community building and outreach, crime prevention and education, and smart prosecution of violent offenders. The Hampden District Attorney’s Office has engaged with many community-based organizations, including Roca, the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley, and the YWCA to broaden its reach and provide equitable services to all communities in need. His office has also initiated many of its own programs to engage youth, prevent crime, help people overcome addiction, and promote social and racial equity in criminal justice.

Last year, the Hampden District Attorney’s Office created a young adult court named EACH, the Emerging Adult Court of Hope. This groundbreaking model engages young adults from ages 18 to 24 who are ensnared in a cycle of negativity and incarceration. EACH, in partnership with various community organizations and state agencies, was designed by Gulluni to disrupt this cycle, to which he saw many young people fall prey. Instead of incarceration, the court provides intensive support and programming focused on the participants’ physical and mental health, behavior patterns, housing, and ultimately the development of a pathway for careers through education and job training. The court is the first of its kind in Massachusetts and is already receiving national attention.

Gulluni was also appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to serve on the board that oversees the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance and administers millions of dollars of funds to victim and survivor organizations. In addition, Baker appointed him to his statewide Task Force on Hate Crimes. Gullini is also the immediate past president of the Massachusetts District Attorney Assoc.

For more information on Western New England University’s 2021 commencement ceremonies and to view live-streaming videos, visit wne.edu/commencement.

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SPRINGFIELD — Hillary Haft Bucs has been named the recipient of the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award at Western New England University. Winners of this prestigious award are nominated by students, faculty, and administrators for outstanding contributions as educators and advisors.

Bucs is a professor of Theatre, teaching playwriting, acting, and improvisational comedy. She is also the adviser for the Stageless Players and Improv on the Rocks. She has directed numerous productions at the university, including Mamma Mia!, Beauty and the Beast, Footloose, Curtains, Hello, Dolly!, and Legally Blonde. Her sabbatical research is on Yiddish theatre through Odessa, London, Johannesburg, and New York City through the lens of her great-great-great-grandfather, Jacob Katzman.

With Valerie Clayman Pye, Bucs coedited Objectives, Obstacles, and Tactics in Practice: Perspectives on Activating the Actor, and is currently working on a second book called Embodied Playwriting: How Thinking Like an Improv Actor Can Make You a Better Playwright.

Bucs’ improv training and performance work began in Chicago, where she graduated from the legendary Second City Training Center, trained and performed with I.O. (Improv Olympics) and Annoyance Theatre, and was an improv actor with Michael Gellman’s TheatreWorks.

She was an associate artist for Enchanted Circle Theatre in Holyoke, where she played the role of Nellie in The Skinner Servant’s Tour over a six-year period. As an improviser, she was a company member of TheatreSports in Pittsburgh, as well as a variety of smaller troupes in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and New York City. She was an original performer with Happier Family Comedy in Western Mass. and continues to train there, as well as at the Magnet Theatre in New York City.

She has been a member and office holder of the Assoc. for Theatre in Higher Education since 2007 and is presently the secretary of the Acting Program Focus Group. She received her master of fine arts degree in performance from the University of Pittsburgh and her bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre from Northwestern University.

During the review process, one of Bucs’ nominators noted that “she is, and has always been, one of the hardest-working faculty members at Western New England, putting much of her spare time, thought, and imagination into making her classes and the community better.” Students described her as somebody who “possesses a positivity that always makes students leave the classroom with a smile” and one who “pulls up her sleeves and puts her heart into everything she does.”

Bucs has been nominated for the Teaching Excellence Award at Western New England University four times, and received the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Service Award in 2017.

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SPRINGFIELD — Professionals from throughout Western Mass. will gather virtually as Western New England University (WNEU) convenes its 38th annual Social Work Conference on Wednesday, May 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. This year’s conference is being presented virtually in accordance with CDC recommendations at the time of planning.

Risa Silverman, director of the UMass School of Public Health and Health Sciences Office for Public Health Practice and Outreach, will be the keynote speaker for this event. Silverman’s presentation, “Bridge the Gap: Look at Race and Health Through an Intergenerational Lens,” will describe the work of the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network and its latest project, creating a film with community members young and old, on conversations about racism and health in our communities.

“We will discuss what health equity looks like during and post-pandemic for our community members and how to move forward together by learning and identifying action steps,” said Silverman. The presentation will discuss working together to address racism as a public-health crisis and ways in which conversations can be productive in this space. Members of the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network will join Silverman in the conversation.

Rosa Espinosa will be honored with the annual Jim Quinn Human Service Award at the conference. Espinosa is the director of family-based services at New North Citizens’ Council (NNCC), which provides advocacy, public, and human services to Hampden County residents with an emphasis on the Hispanic/Latino community.

“Human services saved my life,” said Espinosa, who describes her younger self, as a young mother with two children, the literal definition of the population NNCC serves. “After 30 years, I can honestly say that not only is this work fulfilling, but no matter how much I’ve done, I know I can do more because I will always remember what the agency did for me and my family.”

The daylong conference is sponsored by Western New England University’s Bachelor of Social Work program, the Social Work Advisory Council, and the Office of Enrollment Management, as well as more than 30 virtual sponsors.

Registration for this event is now open. If received before May 12, the registration fee is $120 and includes seven credit hours for full (100%) attendance. The conference fee after May 12 will be $135. Lower student rates are also available. Visit wne.edu/prodev to register online, or call (413) 796-2173.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University announced the appointment of Basil Andrew Stewart as vice president for Finance and Administration after a comprehensive national search. Currently, he is vice president for Finance and chief financial officer for Lasell University and assistant treasurer and chief financial officer of Lasell Village in Newton. At Western New England, Stewart will serve as the chief financial officer for the university.

“WNE will benefit greatly from Stewart’s breadth of experience in higher education and expertise in strategic planning as we move forward with a bold new vision for WNE as a model for what a 21st-century traditional university can and must become,” university President Robert Johnson said. “Now more than ever, institutions need to be as agile and transparent with their finance and technology operations as they are with their academic programming to ensure long-range growth and financial stability. Stewart brings that innovative mindset.”

Stewart will be responsible for the university’s finance and budgeting, internal audits, facilities management and construction, campus police, risk management, information technology, and auxiliary services. As CFO, he will serve as chief advisor to the president on financial and administrative matters and will have administrative responsibility to the board of trustees by providing administrative support to its finance, audit, and investment committees.

Prior to his current post, Stewart served as chief financial officer and senior vice president for Finance and Administration at Merrimack College and held controller posts at such prestigious institutions as MIT, Northeastern, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Smith College, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. He held auditing posts for the Gillette Co. and Coopers & Lybrand.

Stewart earned his MBA and a BBA in accounting from UMass Amherst. He is a board member of the Boston Consortium for Higher Education and Boston Senior Home Care Inc. and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Inc. and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants Inc. He holds designations as a chartered global management accountant and certified public accountant.

Stewart, who joins Western New England University in June, succeeds retiring Vice President for Finance and Administration Richard Wagner, who also served as director of Institutional Leadership and Planning for 18 years.

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SPRINGFIELD — The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Western New England University (WNEU) $649,111 for a five-year grant to offer scholarships to students. The target populations are students who are high achievers in high school whose family demonstrates they will benefit from financial aid. The grant will create a community-outreach program to increase the number of high-school and middle-school students entering and succeeding in STEM fields.

The grant, titled Sustainable Pathways to Success for Low-income STEM Students Emphasizing Research and Innovation, was awarded to Jingru Benner, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and a team of educators from the university including Dean Hossein Cheraghi, Michael Rust, and Anthony Santamaria from the College of Engineering; Raymond Ostendorf from the College of Arts and Sciences; and Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing. Benner will serve as principal investigator and project director.

The project will increase the number of high-school students who have access to enroll in the WNEU Mechanical Engineering program. The grant provides funding for an annual need-based scholarship that will be added on top of each student’s WNEU merit scholarship and can be combined with the university’s Women in Engineering or FIRST Robotics Scholarships.

In addition, the grant will fund critical resources for students in the program to receive targeted support to help them successfully graduate. The resources will include mentored research with faculty, entrepreneurship development, community-service projects, the option for participation in learning communities, and expert guest presentations. Students will also have access to customized career consultations to begin early career planning.

“The world needs the best and brightest minds to solve the problems of today — and those yet to be imagined,” WNEU President Robert Johnson said. “This grant will help us to welcome more deserving and high-achieving students into our supportive community. We are grateful for Dr. Benner and the team’s efforts to bring this important National Science Foundation grant to WNE.”

The program will study the impact of immersed research experiences combined with entrepreneurial mindset training on student retention and degree completion. It is the first National Science Foundation S-STEM grant awarded to WNEU, now nationally ranked with a top-100 Engineering program.

“The premise is that the combination of research experience, to deepen the student’s technical knowledge, and entrepreneurship skill development, to train the students to identify innovative opportunities and integrate classroom learning to create value for society, will improve the pathway to success for STEM students in achieving their career goals,” Benner explained. “The strategy for implementation is carefully designed and will be used in conjunction with other student services on the WNE campus.”

Such an investment has the potential to not only transform individual lives, he noted, but those they will impact through their future careers.

“The NSF grant is a vote of confidence that this program will advance the understanding of the relationship between the proposed activities and student success,” Gross said. “The findings from this project will add new knowledge toward defining what effective curricular and co-curricular activities work to improve the persistence and success rate of college students from low-income communities in STEM fields.”

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SPRINGFIELD — The Connecticut Bar Assoc. (CBA) announced Professor Jennifer Levi as the 2021 Tapping Reeve Legal Educator Award winner. The award is presented to legal educators who have made significant contributions to the cause of legal education over a period of years and have distinguished themselves as legal educators of the highest quality.

Levi serves as a professor of Law at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law. She has dedicated her career to fighting for the rights of women, children, the poor, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered clients, and was a founder of the law school’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies, which is now part of the School of Law’s Center for Social Justice. In addition, she is a nationally recognized expert on transgender legal issues and the director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project litigating precedent-setting cases establishing basic rights for LGBTQ people.

Established in 2012, the Tapping Reeve Legal Educator Award is presented to a member of the Connecticut Bar Assoc. who is a member of the faculty, a clinical instructor, or an adjunct instructor at UConn, Quinnipiac, Yale, or Western New England University law schools, or a member of the CBA who has contributed greatly to the legal education of his or her colleagues. The recipient must have demonstrated sustained commitment and made significant contributions to the cause of legal education in the state and have distinguished himself or herself as a legal educator of the highest quality as a teacher, scholarly writer, or both.

Judge Tapping Reeve, the namesake of this award, was an American lawyer, educator, and jurist. He is recognized as founding a law school in Litchfield, Conn. considered to be the first formal school of law in the U.S. offering a vocational curriculum for future attorneys.

Levi will be formally awarded this distinction at the 2021 Celebrate with the Stars virtual event on Thursday, April 8.

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SPRINGFIELD — Maria Toyoda, currently the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and professor of Political Science & Legal Studies at Boston’s Suffolk University, has been appointed senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost at Western New England University, effective July 12.

President Robert Johnson announced the appointment, citing Toyoda’s successes in cross-disciplinary collaboration, commitment to student success, procurement of grant funding, modernization of processes, and mobilization of faculty as partners in the recruitment process at her prior institution.

“We are honored to have Dr. Toyoda join us at an important inflection point in the history of Western New England University,” Johnson said. “Currently, the WNE community is crafting a shared ambition to guide us through the next phase of our evolution. Her expertise and leadership will be instrumental as WNE stakes its position as a model for the new traditional university, one that provides an education grounded in professional studies, enhanced by the liberal arts, and renowned for mentored research that produces graduates who are work-ready and world-ready.”

Toyoda will be the university’s chief academic officer and oversee the academic integrity of all colleges, schools, and institutes on campus. The position is responsible for working with the deans and faculty to maintain the quality of current programs, develop new programs, and oversee the academic-appointment process.

“Institutions of higher learning have a responsibility to train active and civically engaged citizens who are discerning in both their consumption and production of information,” Toyoda said. “WNE’s aim of shaping future citizens imbued with personal values of integrity and accountability, tolerance and respect, and social responsibility aligns with my own ideals around education that emphasizes mastery, practice, creativity, perceptiveness, and personal growth.”

In her current role at Suffolk University, Toyoda oversees 18 departments with 200 full-time faculty and staff with responsibility for an undergraduate population of 5,000 students. On March 30, she was honored as one of Get Konnected’s 50 Most Influential People of Color in Higher Education. She received her PhD and master’s degree in government at Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University with honors in values, technology, science, and society.

Toyoda succeeds interim Provost Curt Hamakawa, who will return to his previous position as professor of Sport Management. Hamakawa is also the director of the Business Study Abroad program, the Business Honors program, and the Center for International Sport Business in the university’s College of Business.

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SPRINGFIELD — “National Security Priorities in Biden’s First 100 Days” will be the topic of a discussion by Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law Dean Sudha Setty on Thursday, April 15 at noon. The cost for this virtual event, presented by the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts, is $10 (free for students).

Setty will discuss various national-security priorities of the Biden administration, including investigations into domestic terrorism, anticipated policy changes regarding targeted killings, and foreign-policy priorities.

Setty became dean of the School of Law in 2018 and has served on the faculty since 2006. She is the author of National Security Secrecy: Comparative Effects on Democracy and the Rule of Law, the editor of Constitutions, Security, and the Rule of Law), and has written dozens of articles on national-security law and policy.

She was recognized as part of the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Top Women in the Law in 2019, and the WNEU School of Law honored her with the Catherine J. Jones Professor of Year Award in 2009, 2016, and 2018. She was recognized in 2015 as a Trailblazer by the South Asian Bar Assoc. of Connecticut and received the 2017 Tapping Reeve Legal Educator Award from the Connecticut Bar Assoc. In July 2018, she was elected to membership in the American Law Institute.

The April 15 event is sponsored by Glenmeadow, Sir Speedy, and Wilbraham & Monson Academy. For more information and to register, visit the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts website at www.wacwestma.org.

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SPRINGFIELD — Thomas Hull, associate professor of Mathematics at Western New England University (WNEU), recently published his latest book, Origametry: Mathematical Methods in Paper Folding. In his book, Hull takes a deep dive into the math behind origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper folding.

“This is the first book of its kind,” he said. “Origami can be studied with math in many ways, such as using geometry, calculus, or matrices. This is the first book that brings all these different approaches together to streamline them into a cohesive theory.”

Hull’s research uses graph theory, combinatorics, geometry, and other areas of math, with applications in engineering, materials science, art, and education. He is a leading expert on the mathematics of origami, having given talks on this topic all over the world.

“Interest in origami has been increasing over the past eight years, especially among engineers and physicists,” he said. “They see origami-inspired mechanisms as novel ways to do things like deploy large structures — such as solar panel arrays — into outer space or to make nanoscale robots. This book gathers the math needed to study such applications in one place.”

Hull has been practicing origami since he was 8 years old and studying the mathematics behind origami for the past 30 years. He holds both a PhD and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Hampshire College.

Several of the origami models he has invented are well-known among origami artists, including his ‘five intersecting tetrahedra’ model, a star-like structure, featured on the cover of his new book, which the British Origami Society voted as being one of the top 10 origami models of all time.

“The book took over 10 years to write,” he said. “In addition to the fundamentals of origami math, it also contains research that I did with undergraduate students at Western New England University.” Hull often brings the art of origami into his math classes, and every year he has undergraduate students working with him on origami-related research. In the fall 2021 semester, he will offer a math course at WNEU on the mathematics of origami, using his new book as a guide.

“Faculty like Dr. Hull who take part in research and discovery are actively participating in their field and have access to cutting-edge insight in the subject matter they teach,” said Curt Hamakawa, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “By sharing that insight in the classroom — in this case incorporating origami lines and 3D configurations to teach math — they bring life to the academic world and provide the opportunity for students to witness the evolution of an industry.”

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SPRINGFIELD — After successfully holding classes primarily on campus under stringent COVID-19 safety protocols throughout the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021, Western New England University (WNEU) announced plans to return to unrestricted in-person learning for the fall of 2021.

The announcement was made by WNEU President Robert Johnson in a letter to the campus community on March 16. Of the roughly 3,000 colleges and universities tracked by the College Crisis Initiative, Western New England University was one of just 27% of schools nationwide that resumed primarily in-person teaching last fall that continued throughout the spring through careful adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols.

The letter describes the plan for all on-ground courses to be in classrooms without social-distancing restrictions in place.

“We must thrive in uncertainty by being well-informed, decisive, and extremely well-prepared,” Johnson said. “The decision to return to campus in this way has not been made lightly or without a great deal of planning.” He added that detailed feedback and support from university administration, along with guidance from state and national health experts, led to this decision.

He noted that, while the university will prepare for mostly on-ground, in-person, unrestricted classes to resume in the fall, detailed contingency plans are in place if WNEU needs to revert to classrooms with social distancing. “We will be ready to execute our plan in a quick and organized manner that will reduce class sizes and add more hybrid options to the course schedule.”

Johnson expressed to the community that he looks forward to a return to the close interaction with students that is a hallmark of a WNEU education. “I want to emphasize that university faculty and staff will be fully prepared to deal with whatever our situation may bring, as has been the case all along. I am both cautious and optimistic in all that we are planning for you.”

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University will host high-school students and their parents in a virtual open house that will be streamed live on Saturday, March 6 from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The event is free, but advance reservation is required by visiting visit.wne.edu or calling the Admissions Office at (413) 782-1312.

Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions Michelle Goodfellow will lead guests on a live, virtual tour of the campus; introduce them to the university’s new President, Robert Johnson; and show them what life is like as a Golden Bear. Along the way, prospective students and their families will interact with current students, learn about how the university has been able to safety welcome our students back to campus, win prizes, and learn about academic opportunities within the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Engineering. Also featured will be the new 4U University Advising Program and options for academic support, admissions and financial aid, living on campus and commuting, student activities, athletics, and more.

“I am so excited to have a chance to meet our prospective students at this event,” Goodfellow said. “Even though we are not able to have large numbers of students on campus, I am confident that those that attend virtually will get a true sense of the Golden Bear spirit that exists on our campus.”

To wrap up the event, Goodfellow will host a live panel, where guests will be able to ask questions directly to current Western New England students.

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SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law’s Center for Social Justice was awarded a $6,000 DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) mini-grant from Health New England (HNE). The grant provides funding to local nonprofit organizations that are actively addressing racial health equity and disparities, and at least one of the CDC’s social determinants of health (SDOH).

“As a mission-driven, not-for-profit health plan, Health New England seeks to improve the health and lives of all people in our communities,” said Susan Silver O’Connor, vice president and general counsel for Health New England. “With this grant, Health New England deepens its commitment to addressing racial inequality and health disparities in Springfield and beyond through our partnership with the Center for Social Justice. Health New England supports the critical work of the center in dismantling structural inequality to improve health outcomes and increase health equity through education and dialogue.”

SDOH are conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes; these include healthcare access and quality, education access and quality, social and community context, economic stability, and neighborhood and built environment.

“We are deeply grateful to Health New England for their support of this critical initiative and look forward to working with them as a partner in addressing the pervasive issue of racism as a social determinant of health in our community,” said Ariel Clemmer, director of the Center for Social Justice.

The grant seeks to dismantle systemic racism in two ways. Clemmer explained that the project will “first educate the WNE University community about the connection between racism and health disparities and the structural barriers to equity that exist across society, and then will work to facilitate racial healing and relationship building between and among our institution and the local community through healing-circle conversations.”

Since its launch in 2019, the Center for Social Justice has been a key stakeholder in the pursuit of social justice in its community and beyond. In the last year, the center has sponsored or hosted more than a dozen events, including various know-your-rights trainings and programming, panel discussions addressing the racial disparities of COVID-19, and lawyering in the time of Black Lives Matter, as well as speakers like Evan Wolfson, who is considered an architect of the marriage-equality movement. Its work is entirely grant-funded from supporters like HNE and MassMutual, as well as individual donors.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) faculty, colleagues, family members, and students are invited to participate in a commemorative event in memory of Assistant Vice President of Marketing Communications Dave Stawasz, who passed away peacefully on Jan. 28, surrounded by his family, after a courageous two-year battle with stage-4 colorectal cancer.

Stawasz was a graduate of South Hadley High School and Syracuse University. His early career was as a news producer at WWLP and then later at WFSB. He joined the university in 2004.

“During his cancer battle, Dave taught us so much about courage, perseverance, and love, all of which were pinnacles of who Dave was,” said Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing. “As a beloved member of our university family, we want to honor his distinguished memory as well as support his wife and daughters, who meant everything to him.”

Stawasz was a loving family man and committed husband to his wife of 25 years, Lisa, and the proud father of his two daughters, Paige and Kristen, both of whom are currently enrolled as undergraduate students at colleges in the New England region.

Steps for Stawasz is a virtual walk taking place throughout the month of April in his honor. Participants will log as many virtual steps as they can during the month by either walking or running while collecting donations along the way through friends and family sponsorships. By signing up, participants will receive a link to share on social media. From there, participants can create a personal giving page to collect donations and update progress. Details and instructions can be found by clicking here.

Interested individuals can also make a direct donation on the website without participating in the walk. All proceeds will go directly to the Stawasz family.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University announced that all current students (class of 2021 to class of 2024) will be offered two graduate courses free of charge with acceptance to a WNEU master’s-degree program upon completion of their bachelor’s degree.

“As our undergraduates consider next steps, especially with the current economic climate, we want to help provide them with the opportunity to advance their credentials in what could prove to be a difficult time as the nation returns to post-COVID normalcy,” said Matt Fox, executive director of Graduate Admissions.

According to the NACE Job Outlook Survey, 2021 hiring will be “more positive than expected given that the pandemic shut down the economy, plummeted the stock market, and raised the unemployment rate.” Nearly 17% of organizations responding to the NACE survey plan to increase their hiring levels of 2021 graduates, compared to 2020 graduates, and about 53% plan to maintain their level of hiring.

Andrea St. James, assistant dean of the Delbridge Career Center at WNEU, is encouraged by this report. “It is important for students to stay focused on the job-search process and to make connections,” she said. “By utilizing this time and taking advantage of this opportunity, it increases your value in the marketplace. It demonstrates a commitment to continuous and active learning. This is one of the most important qualities employers look for when hiring. The sooner you begin your degree, the sooner you will finish. It makes perfect sense.”

Fox outlined the many benefits this opportunity offers, including improving employment and future advancement opportunities, deferred undergraduate loan payment, and what essentially equates to a 20% reduction in graduate tuition.

“Online course offerings allow for flexibility and the ability to advance your education from anywhere,” she noted. “Students can launch their careers while beginning their graduate degrees. This new initiative is our way of taking some of the financial pressure off students and help them do that, especially in light of current external circumstances.”

For more information, visit www1.wne.edu/admissions/graduate/two-grad-courses.cfm.

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SPRINGFIELD — On Tuesday, 157 law-school deans from schools across the country, including Dean Sudha Setty from Western New England University School of Law, published a statement addressing the 2020 election and the events that took place in the U.S. Capitol last week. It is unusual for such a diverse group of law deans to come together to speak as one on an issue that falls outside the purview of legal education.

Dean Setty noted, “as legal educators, we know that, to meet this moment in our democracy, our foremost job is to educate lawyers of conscience and character. This joint statement reaffirms that fundamental role and the work that lies ahead for our profession.”

“The violent attack on the Capitol was an assault on our democracy and the rule of law,” reads the statement. “The effort to disrupt the certification of a free and fair election was a betrayal of the core values that undergird our Constitution. Lives were lost, the seat of our democracy was desecrated, and our country was shamed.”

The joint statement goes on to reflect upon the roles that lawyers played in recent events and affirm the deans’ commitment to working together to repair the damage to democratic institutions and rebuild faith in the rule of law.

“Many lawyers and judges worked honestly and in good faith, often in the face of considerable political pressure, to ensure the 2020 election was free and fair. However, we recognize with dismay and sorrow that some lawyers challenged the outcome of the election with claims that they did not support with facts or evidence. This betrayed the values of our profession.”

The deans conclude with a call to action. “As legal educators and lawyers ourselves, we must redouble our efforts to restore faith in the rule of law and the ideals of the legal profession. We have enormous faith in the law’s enduring values and in our students, who will soon lead this profession. We call upon all members of the legal profession to join us in the vital work ahead.”

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SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University Small Business Legal Clinic is accepting applications from entrepreneurs and small-business owners seeking legal assistance for the spring semester 2021. Under faculty supervision, law students assist clients with legal issues including choice of entity, employment policies, contract drafting, regulatory compliance, and intellectual-property issues relating to trademark applications and copyright. This is a free service available to local businesses that might not have the resources to obtain such services.

The Small Business Clinic has assisted more than 350 small businesses since it opened. “The clinic is a great resource for entrepreneurs who lack the finances to retain an attorney,” Associate Clinical Professor of Law Robert Statchen explained. “By using the clinic’s services, businesses can avoid problems by getting legal issues addressed early and correctly. It also provides students with a great opportunity to get real-world experience.”

The clinic requests that small-business owners submit their applications by Friday, Jan. 1. Applications received after that date will be considered if additional resources are available. Students will begin providing services in late January. For more information, call the Legal Clinic at (413) 782-1469 or e-mail Marie Fletcher, Clinical Programs administrator, at [email protected].

The School of Law Small Business Legal Clinic was established to afford law students with an opportunity to provide practical consultation to entrepreneurs starting new and building existing small businesses in the community. This initiative strengthens alliances within the community by using the resources of the university to foster new business development. For more information or to complete an online application, visit www1.wne.edu/law/centers/small-business-legal-clinic.cfm.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University will host high-school students and their parents in a virtual open house that will be streamed live on Sunday, Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to noon. The event is free, but advance reservation is required at visit.wne.edu or calling the Admissions Office at (413) 782-1312.

Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions Michelle Goodfellow will lead guests on a live virtual tour of the campus, introduce them to the university’s new President, Robert Johnson, and show them what life is like as a Golden Bear. Along the way, prospective students and their families will interact with current students, win prizes, and learn about academic opportunities within the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Engineering. Also featured will be the new 4U University Advising Program and options for academic support, admissions and financial aid, living on campus and commuting, student activities, athletics, and more.

“I am so excited to have a chance to meet our prospective students at this event,” Goodfellow said. “Even though we are not able to have large numbers of students on campus, I am confident that those that attend will get a true sense of the Golden Bear spirit that exists on our campus.”

To wrap up the event, Goodfellow will host a live panel, where guests will be able to ask questions directly to current students. For a complete list of virtual open-house dates and times, visit visit.wne.edu.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law will present a virtual discussion titled “What is the Black Agenda in America Today?” on Thursday, Oct. 29 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. as part of the Wellen Davison Speaker Series.

Entrepreneur, activist, and author Elaine Brown will be discussing recent events involving policing brutality and the deaths of unarmed black citizens. Western New England University President Robert Johnson will provide the welcome address, and Professor of Law Bridgette Baldwin will serve as moderator.

Brown is executive director for the Michael Lewis Legal Defense Committee, the former minister of information and chairman of the Black Panther Party, and author of A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story and the Condemnation of Little B. She is also the CEO of Oakland & the World Enterprises, a nonprofit organization dedicated to launching and sustaining for-profit businesses for ownership by formerly incarcerated and other people facing extreme barriers to economic survival. Brown attended Temple University, UCLA, Mills College, and Southwestern University School of Law and has lectured at colleges and universities around the world.

The Wellen Davison Seminar is named after former Professor of Mechanical Engineering Wellen Davison, who taught in the College of Engineering for 38 years. In 1989, the university inaugurated the Wellen Davison Seminar in his honor, and it is now an annual professional-development event striving to improve the teaching and learning environment at the university.

This 90-minute event is free and open to the public. To register in advance, click here.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University School of Law and Massachusetts Fair Housing will present a virtual panel discussion on “Eviction in the Time of COVID-19: the Next National Crisis” on Friday, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.

A panel of experts will discuss the impact the coronavirus has had on an already-existing housing crisis. Bringing important perspectives on the subject will be panelists Joel Feldman, attorney and shareholder at Heisler, Feldman, & McCormick, P.C.; Michael Doherty, clerk magistrate for the Western Division Housing Court; David Leveillee, attorney at the Rhode Island Legal Services Housing Law Center; and Rose Webster-Smith, program coordinator for Springfield No One Leaves.

Serving as moderator will be Alexander Cerbo, a third-year Western New England University law student and editor in chief of Lex Brevis.

Of particular interest to legal professionals, fair-housing advocates, and members of the higher-education community, the one-hour event is free and open to the public. Contact Cerbo with questions at [email protected]. To register, visit www.fhcrconference.com.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University will host high-school students and their parents in a virtual open house on Sunday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to noon. The event is free, but advance reservation is required by clicking here or calling the Admissions Office at (413) 782-1312.

Kerri Jarzabski, assistant vice president for Enrollment Management and Retention and dean of first-year students, will lead guests on a live virtual tour of the campus; introduce them to the university’s new President, Robert Johnson; and show them what life is like as a Golden Bear. Along the way, prospective students and their families will learn about academic opportunities within the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Engineering; the new 4U Advising Program and options for academic support; living on campus and commuting; student activities; athletics; and more.

“I am so excited to have a chance to meet our prospective students at this event,” Jarzabski said. “Even though we are not able to have large numbers of students on campus, I am confident that those that attend will get a true sense of the Golden Bear spirit that exists on our campus.”

To wrap up the event, Jarzabski will host a live panel with student leaders, where guests will be able to ask questions directly to students. After the formal event, prospective families will be able to join academic breakout sessions, watch a video overview, and join a Zoom session for each college.

For a complete list of 2020-21 Virtual Open House dates and times, click here.

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