2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog/Student Handbook 
    Dec 07, 2023  
2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog/Student Handbook [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

About the University

University Mission, Values and Vision


Westfield State University fosters intellectual curiosity, encourages critical thinking, inspires civic engagement, and promotes a global perspective. A public teaching institution offering quality programs in the liberal arts and sciences with complementing professional studies curricula, we are grounded in our founding principles of academic excellence and educating all in a diverse and welcoming community. Westfield State develops the knowledge, skills, and character essential for students to reach their full potential and become responsible leaders in society. We contribute to the economic, social, and cultural vitality of the region.


We commit ourselves to…

  1. Treating all members of our community with dignity and respect.
  2. Building community by being inclusive, supporting the personal development of all community members, and embracing multiple perspectives.
  3. Maintaining excellence and integrity in all that we do.
  4. Supporting civic engagement in local, regional and global initiatives.
  5. Making decisions in a transparent and collaborative manner.
  6. Providing affordable public higher education.


Westfield State University will be recognized for its academic excellence and engaged scholarship. The University will graduate well–rounded and creative leaders able to embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead, contribute to their fields, and improve their communities. Students will gain and create knowledge through multiple forms of learning, including experiential education and faculty-led scholarship. Our globally engaged community will include student, faculty/librarians, and staff international exchanges and active explorations of critical world issues.

The programs and functions of the University will be supported with modern facilities, library, and information technology, adequate staffing, and funding to support student and program needs. Westfield State will stand out as an institution operating sustainably, growing responsibly, and maintaining a cohesive, functional, and aesthetically pleasing campus.

Westfield State University will be an inclusive place where decision making reflects the concerns and voices of all parts of the campus community. The University will exemplify how to value diversity and benefit from collaborative decision making. The strong bond among the campus community will make it a place where students, faculty/librarians, and staff want to learn, teach, and work.

University History

Westfield State University was established in 1838 by Horace Mann as the Barre Normal School in Barre, MA. In 1844 the institution relocated to Westfield, MA and re-opened as the Westfield Normal School. Additional name changes: 1932 Westfield State Teachers College; 1960 Massachusetts State College at Westfield; 1967 Westfield State College; and 2010 Westfield State University. Westfield is one of the nine institutions of the state university system.


Westfield State University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). The teacher licensure programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Educator Preparation and Quality. The Athletic Training program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). The Health Fitness program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The Social Work program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Westfield State University is designated as a Commonwealth of Massachusetts-accredited Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training institution. The Computer Science program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Strategic Plan 2012-2017

Goal One

Provide a University Experience that Prepares Students for Achievement in a Complex and Evolving Global Environment.

Westfield State University provides opportunities for students to reach their full potential and broaden their worldview through a range of experiences in the classroom and beyond. In the next five years the University should strengthen and refine existing programs that meet these objectives and establish new initiatives to complement the successful efforts underway.

  1. Increase Support for Academic and Teaching Excellence, and Engaged Scholarship.
  2. Expand Interdisciplinary Learning.
  3. Increase International Exchanges for Students, Faculty/Librarians, and Staff.
  4. Teach Technological and Information Literacy Skills across the Curriculum.
  5. Complete a Periodic Review of the Common Core of Studies and Implement Recommendations.
  6. Provide Learning Opportunities for Multiple Constituencies.
  7. Expand Student Leadership Opportunities.
  8. Increase Student Involvement in the Life of the University.

Goal Two

Develop a Responsible and Sustainable Growth Management Strategy.

Construction on campus is underway (with more planned in the near future) to update facilities and add new spaces. Such changes are necessary for the University to reach its goals in the areas of: diverse coursework; continuing scholarship; faculty/librarian and staff support; and a vibrant campus life. This work must respect the unique character of the campus and be a role model for how higher education can lead in sustainability.

  1. Implement Recommendations of 2012 Space Study.
  2. Develop a Comprehensive Marketing Plan including an Enrollment Cap.
  3. Require Sustainable and Green Building, Transportation, and Operations.
  4. Meet the Need for Day Care among Campus Members.
  5. Hire and Develop the Human Resources Necessary to Service Planned Growth.
  6. Maintain Optimum Technological Infrastructure.

Goal Three

Expand and Diversify Financial Resources

Funding is necessary for the University to fulfill its mission, and Westfield State has established infrastructure to pursue new sources of giving, research grants, and revenue. This work needs to continue as we are committed to high standards in all we do, yet do not wish to place a financial burden on students.

  1. Increase the Financial Yield of University Fundraising Activities and State Support.
  2. Provide Faculty/Librarians and Staff with Support for Grant Writing and Administration, Including Arrangements for Course/Work Reassignment.
  3. Increase All Forms of Financial Assistance to Meet Student Need and Support a Diverse Student Body.

Goal Four

Strengthen our Community with improved Communication and Collaboration.

The climate of the campus is linked to our ability to learn, teach, research, and work collaboratively and effectively. For all to feel a part of the community requires accountability to our values and effective communication—including engaging in difficult discussions. There is also a need for an easy- to- use vehicle for timely two-way information sharing, so everyone is aware of the many initiatives, events, and deliberations occurring on campus.

  1. Affirm, with Words and Actions, our Campus-wide Commitment to being an Inclusive and Equitable Community.
  2. Improve Systems and Tools for Easy and Effective Communication.
  3. Address the Effects of Physical Fragmentation on Campus Communications.
  4. Increase Participation in Events and Activities that include all Parts of the Campus Community.

Goal Five

Increase Ways to Connect with and Enrich the Greater Community.

As a public institution of higher education, Westfield State University has a special responsibility to our immediate community and beyond. Over the years, our students, faculty, staff, facilities, and programming have contributed to the community. These initiatives are mutually beneficial and should continue. New ideas about ways to collaborate with the community should be identified and implemented.

  1. Expand Service Learning Opportunities.
  2. Promote Faculty -Staff-Student–Community Engagement.
  3. Participate in the Revitalization of Downtown Westfield.
  4. Contribute to the Social, Cultural, and Educational Vitality of the Region.

Undergraduate Programs

Students wishing to earn a baccalaureate degree may matriculate in undergraduate degree programs through the Day Division or the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education.

The Day Division program is directed toward the full-time undergraduate student, and offers the full range of activities that typically are associated with an undergraduate institution, including opportunities to participate in intercollegiate athletics, student government, literary and performing groups, to name but a few. The undergraduate population is diverse, ranging from recent high school graduates to older adults. The Division of Graduate and Continuing Education offers a program geared to the needs of the part-time, online and evening student, with an appropriate complement of academic support services available. Classes for Continuing Education students generally are offered at night and online, although students may take day classes on a space available basis.

With very few exceptions, students may enroll in any of the University’s undergraduate programs through either division. Academic standards and policies are the same in both divisions, although the methods of implementing specific policies may vary because of the different patterns the undergraduate career may take for full- and part-time students. Such differences are noted in the Bulletin where applicable.

For Day Division students, student records are housed in the Office of the Registrar, and all transactions related to student records and academic programs are executed through that office. The Office of Graduate and Continuing Education provides comparable service for Continuing Education students.

Graduation and Retention Rates

Under Student Right to Know regulations, the federal government requires all institutions of higher education to report annually the six year graduation rate for the cohort of students entering college as first-time, full-time, freshmen six years prior to the report year, as well as the average six-year graduation rate for the last four years. For this reporting year, the cohort comprises students entering in the fall of 2007, and Westfield’s reported six-year completion rate is 59%. Our average six year completion rate for students entering 2004-2007 is 59%.

For Westfield’s last five classes, students entering Fall 2005 to Fall 2009 and graduating Spring 2009 to Spring 2013, the average four-year completion rate is 45%. For students entering Fall 2004 to Fall 2008, our average five-year completion rate is 58%. The average fall to fall one year retention rates for students entering Fall 2008 through Fall 2012 is 79%. Westfield State University is pleased that its graduation rates exceed national norms for comparable institutions.