2015-2016 Undergraduate Catalog/Student Handbook 
    Jul 14, 2024  
2015-2016 Undergraduate Catalog/Student Handbook [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Support Services

The Division of Academic Affairs provides primary support for the mission of the University - emphasizing teaching, advising and student engagement in the life of the University and the community.

The Division serves as the umbrella for 24 academic departments and a wealth of resources and programs that enhance the academic experience, including the Academic Achievement Department (Academic Advising, Banacos Academic Center, Reading and Writing Center, TRiO Student Support Services and Urban Education), International Programs, and the Honors Program.

Accreditation, the Bookstore, Center for Instructional Technology, Center for Teaching and Learning, the Faculty Center, Graduate and Continuing Studies, Grants and Sponsored Research, Information Technology, Institutional Research and Assessment, Library, Registrar/Academic Records are all important components of the work of the Division.

The Division also oversees Commencement, Convocation, Dean’s List, Academic Probation and Retention, Academic Conduct, FERPA, First-year initiatives and related areas.

Department of Academic Achievement

The Department of Academic Achievement is comprised of several academic support programs and services: the Academic Advising Center, Learning Disabilities Program, Disability Services, MTEL ComLit Preparation, Student Support Services Program, the Tutoring Center, the Reading and Writing Center, the Urban Education Program and First-year initiatives. The main office for the Department of Academic Achievement is located in Parenzo Room 101, Maureen  McCartney, Associate Dean, telephone (413) 572-5561.

Academic Advising Center (AAC)

The Academic Advising Center (AAC) provides students an advising experience that guides their journey of self-discovery and assists them in developing educational plans consistent with their life goals and objectives. Through the process of self-discovery, students will gain an understanding of the value and importance of a liberal arts education.

Day Division students are assigned faculty advisors by the chairperson of their major department. The Director of the Academic Advising Center assigns advisors to undeclared students until they declare a major.

The following services are provided to Day Division students:

  • Assist students who have not declared a major with course selection, the registration process, and other academic concerns.
  • Assist students with the exploration of academic majors.
  • Advise students who are pursuing a double major in both Education and Liberal Studies.
  • Assist students who are returning/re-enrolling to the University, on academic probation, and transfer students.
  • Assist students in exploring strategies for academic success.
  • Review with students their academic progress and course needs.
  • Determine course equivalencies for courses students want to transfer to the University.

Students who wish to change their advisor should see the chairperson of their major department. Students who have not yet declared their major should see the Director of the Academic Advising Center.

In addition, staff members of the Office of the Registrar, the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education, the Associate Dean of Academic Achievement as well as the Dean of Undergraduate Studies are available to assist students.

Contact: Laurie Simpson, Director of the Academic Advising Center (AAC) & Transfer Transition Parenzo Hall Room K (413) 572-5563, lsimpson@westfield.ma.edu

Web address: westfield.ma.edu/Academics/Academic_Advising_Center/index.html

Advising Expectations For Advisors

The role of the advisor is to:

  • Serve as student advocates, providing accurate and up to date information about requirements and expectations within the major field, the core requirements, college policy and college procedures.
  • Introduce students to possibilities and expectations within their discipline, both during and beyond the baccalaureate program.
  • Provide assistance to students in tracking their academic progress (i.e., review audit and departmental program sheets regularly with students).
  • Assist students to develop strategies and individual plans which will maintain good academic standing.
  • Introduce students to academic opportunities (internships, coop, honors, exchange programs, etc.) available through the institution or through the discipline.
  • Provide students with useful and accessible referrals to other courses of information and assistance as necessary.

The advising expectations for advisors were developed by a subcommittee of department chairpersons and then accepted by all department chairpersons. They serve as a guideline for all who serve as advisors.

Students’ Academic Advising Responsibilities

It is strongly recommended that:

  • Students know the requirements and expectations within their major field, core requirements, college policies and procedures.
  • Students meet early in their academic career with their advisor to develop an academic plan which will guide the completion of their baccalaureate degree.
  • Students meet regularly with their department advisor to update their progress within the program.
  • Students be responsible for maintaining an academic file (i.e., College Bulletin, academic audit sheets, grade reports, registration records, change of grade/change of major forms, etc.).
  • Students consider keeping an academic portfolio for their benefit in employment and professional interviews.
  • Students know what it means to maintain satisfactory academic standing (i.e., satisfactory GPA by attempted credits) by reviewing the Academic Standing Policy  .
  • Students explore with their advisor various academic opportunities (internships, co-ops, honors, exchange programs, etc.) available through the institution or through their discipline.
  • Students speak with their advisor to learn about the various academic resources available (tutorial services, study skills workshops, etc.) to support their success.

Transfer Transition Office (TTO)

Transferring from one higher education institution to another can be challenging in many ways. Changes in schedule processing, working with new advisors, becoming familiar with a new campus culture, are all adjustments transfer students must make. The Transfer Transition Office (TTO) assists students in making a seamless transition for a more successful Westfield State experience. TTO provides pre-admission and transition advising and connections to the campus community. The TTO also provides the additional information, support and advocacy needed to ensure a successful first semester and beyond.

The Director of the AAC and staff will:

  • Assist students with general questions and serve as a resource for them.
  • Refer and connect transfer students to appropriate advisors in their chosen majors.
  • Make appropriate referrals to other campus offices.
  • Meet with students in person or by phone.
  • Assist transfer students with the transition to Westfield State.

Transfer Transition Advisors located in Parenzo Hall, Room K:
Laurie Simpson, Director of the Academic Advising Center (AAC) & Transfer Transition
(413) 572-5563, lsimpson@westfield.ma.edu

Peer Advising Program

Peer Advisors are a group of highly-trained students who work closely with the professional staff in the Academic Advising Center (AAC). Peer Advisors assist students in understanding their options for major/minors, common core, and registration procedures. With the guidance of the staff in the AAC, Peer Advisors assist students in becoming grounded during their first year. The goal of the Peer Advising Program is to:

  • Foster an educational environment for academic and personal growth
  • Empower students to take greater ownership and responsibility for their academic success
  • Provide opportunities to understand students’ perspectives on academic policies and procedures
  • Maximize Peer Advisors’ lived and learned advising experiences
  • To serve as a conduit between the larger student population and the Academic Advising Center (AAC).

First-Year Initiatives

Connections: First Year Forward
Philosophy Statement
Westfield State University sees the first year as a time of transition and growth in which new students find their place as engaged members of the diverse academic, civic and social communities at the University.

During this transition, students’ primary task is to come to understand the process and goals of college education, and to develop the skills and dispositions needed to succeed in college and beyond. Through liberal arts and sciences core curriculum and introductory majors’ courses, students build a broader understanding of different forms of knowledge. They deepen their ability to question their own knowledge and beliefs, becoming more nuanced critical thinkers. They learn to assess their own needs, access resources, and advocate for themselves in overcoming challenges in a new environment.

For many of Westfield’s new students, the transition to college is also a time of increased independence and interaction with people of diverse backgrounds, requiring new levels of personal responsibility, social awareness, and civic engagement. Co-curricular activities and residential experiences support students in strengthening their understanding of their roles in the university community and beyond.

We strive to foster and promote a collaborative and dynamic climate, one that honors and supports the contributions, perspectives, and needs of each first-year student. In this environment, we facilitate the intellectual, social, and ethical development required for successful transition to college by providing the following:

  • Sustained and supportive engagement with staff, faculty, advisors and peers
  • Intellectually challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and professional disciplines where the relationship between both is honored
  • A range of pedagogical approaches to learning including both individual and collaborative strategies
  • Academic advising and career guidance that invite students to explore academic and professional opportunities
  • A residential program that provides students a safe and independent living experience were civic responsibility and engagement are encouraged and expected
  • Student governance organizations, community service and service-learning opportunities that promote civic engagement
  • A dynamic and enriching co-curricular environment offering services and programs that invite student engagement as contributors and leaders in a variety of educational, social, and governance activities

First-Year Website: www.westfield.ma.edu/firstyear
First-Year Email: firstyear@westfield.ma.edu
First-Year Hotline: (413) 572-8402

Urban Education Program (UEP)

 The retention and recruitment of first-generation students at the university comprises the primary focus of the Urban Education Program (UEP). While serving the University as the recruiter of high school students from diverse educational, socioeconomic, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, the Urban Education Program is designed to provide academic and personal support to program students. First-year students accepted into the Urban Education Program must participate in, and successfully complete, its summer “bridge” program to gain consideration for full matriculation into the University. The “bridge” experience includes intensive academic instruction and leadership development through peer-mentorship. Some important features of the program are course work with a strong emphasis on critical thinking and analytical competencies, academic advising, and leadership development. The program promotes the continuation of higher education through graduate studies or professional school and assists students throughout the graduate admission process.

Located in Parenzo Hall, Room 108, (413) 572-5391. Joan E. Fuller, Director
(413) 572-5389, e-mail urbaned@westfield.ma.edu

Reading and Writing Center

The Westfield State University Reading and Writing Center is dedicated to supporting and encouraging all students, faculty, and staff as they write to communicate their ideas and to discover new ones. Acting as an engaged audience, we seek to assist writers on any type of project-academic, professional, or creative-in any discipline or field, at any stage of the writing process. Our approach values intellectual inquiry, rhetorical flexibility, and reflective practice and recognizes power dynamics inherent in literacy. While we do share strategies for planning, drafting, and revising so that writers may internalize the writing process and grow increasingly independent, we also acknowledge that writing is not a solitary endeavor and that all writers benefit from collaboration. Ultimately, WSU’s RWC aims to foster a safe and diverse community of writers that extends beyond the campus walls.

In order to achieve our mission:

  • We offer one-on-one sessions with professional and peer tutors.
  • We offer workshops on a variety of writing-focused topics.
  • We tailor our one-on-one sessions to meet individual needs.
  • We offer a broad range of hours in order to accommodate busy schedules.
  • We maintain the high quality of our services by requiring peer tutors to undergo rigorous training, by reading current scholarship in the field, and by participating in conferences.
  • We assist writers on all aspects of the process, such as outlining, freewriting, note taking, summarizing, understanding the assignment, using models, posing questions, organizing, developing arguments, working with sources, revising, editing, and proofreading.
  • We help writers examine the expectations of particular genres and disciplines and empower them to question these expectations and make deliberate choices in their writing.
  • We value difference, and we strive to enable students to enter new discourse communities while preserving their own voices.
  • We encourage writers to own their writing by wrestling with meaningful problems and pursuing genuine questions.
  • We empower students to advocate for themselves within the larger university community.
  • We develop and participate in community outreach initiatives.

Students may sign up for an appointment by using our online reservation system found on our webpage (www.westfield.ma.edu/reading), by calling (413) 572-5569, or by visiting the Center in 218 Parenzo Hall. Students may also drop in for sessions with peer writing tutors in Ely Library. Reading and Writing Center hours (in 218 Parenzo) and drop-in hours with peer writing tutors (in Ely Library) are announced at the beginning of each semester. Additional information is available on the Center’s website.

TRiO Student Support Services Program (SSSP)

The TRiO SSSP at Westfield State University empowers first-generation college students, low-income students and students with disabilities to explore and engage with their educational and personal goals. It offers comprehensive academic and personal support designed to assist with persistence to graduation, graduate school, and career preparation. TRiO programs have been established and funded by the U.S. Department of Education in order to promote access to and success in higher education.

The TRiO SSSP serves 160 students from a diverse cross-section of the university student body demonstrating academic need. Program students must meet one or more of the following eligibility criteria: 1. A first-generation college student where neither parent completed a 4-year college degree 2. Demonstrate low-income according to federal guidelines 3. An individual with a documented disability.

A wide-range of academic and personal support services are available to program students:

Academic Support: professional tutoring computer lab with academic assistive technologies; preliminary academic advising; workshops on study skills, learning strategies and graduate school; and academic resources for loan.

Personal Support: counseling around issues affecting academic performance, workshops on topics such as adjusting to college, stress management, and life after graduation, and peer support, guidance and community building via TRiO Mentor Program.

Financial  Support: Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filing assistance, assistance with scholarship research and application, support reviewing and understanding student loans and repayment options.

Cultural & Social Activities: Community building and cultural event programming, student leadership development opportunities.

Students can apply to the program at any point in their undergraduate career and remain in the program until graduation. For more information or to complete a program application please visit www.westfield.ma.edu/sssp. Contact information: Parenzo Hall, Room 104, (413) 572-5793 - sssp@westfield.ma.edu.

In compliance with the U.S. Department of Education, two-thirds of program participants must be first-generation, low-income college students or students with disabilities. In addition, one-third of participants with disabilities must also be low-income.

Banacos Academic Center

The Banacos Academic Center, located in Parenzo Hall, is dedicated to providing opportunities for students to become independent learners and be fully engaged in the University’s academic, residential and student life programs. The Center is home to Disability Services, the Learning Disabilities Program, MTEL ComLit Preparation, and the Tutoring Program. Individuals who might benefit from our programs and services are encouraged to contact the Center for more information at (413) 572-8789 or banacos@westfield.ma.edu.

Services for Students with Disabilities

The Banacos Academic Center’s staff work with students to provide access and equal educational opportunity to the University’s academic, residential and social programs, and facilities. Students can request and receive reasonable accommodations through either Disability Services or the Learning Disabilities Programs (described below). Students are expected to provide current documentation of their disabilities from an appropriate practitioner that includes a diagnosis and history of the disability, and recommendations for services and reasonable accommodations. The University continues to work to ensure that facilities and programs are accessible to all students in accordance with the mandates of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 as amended (ADAAA, 2008).

Disability Services

Disability Services provides a wide array of reasonable and appropriate accommodations for undergraduate and graduate students with physical, psychological, medical or learning disabilities. The access advisor works with students to determine reasonable accommodations and negotiate situations that arise due to a student’s disability. The access advisor assists students with acclimating to the university environment and refers students to appropriate resources on campus. Disability Services welcomes all students, at any point in their academic career, to register and request reasonable accommodations.

The Learning Disabilities Program

The Learning Disabilities Program has a long and vibrant history of success working with University students with learning disabilities and AD/HD. Since 1979, the Learning Disabilities Program has committed to providing a fulfilling educational experience to students. We provide academic support to students with learning disabilities and AD/HD as they transition to university and become independent learners. Students must apply to this program when applying to the University as an entering first-year student.

Students accepted into this program are assigned a program advisor who remains dedicated to the student for the duration of their undergraduate university experience. Program advisors reach out to students regularly and monitor their academic progress throughout their time at Westfield State University. Students work with program advisors to determine what reasonable accommodations, services and resources will best meet their learning needs. Every student is unique and every student advocates for the resources they need to be successful. Students determine their own level of involvement in the program.

MTEL ComLit Preparation

Banacos Academic Center’s MTEL ComLit Preparation provides direct assistance to edcuation majors and others who plan to teach through group workshops and individual support opportunities.  The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure Communication and Literacy Skills test is required of all students planning to teach K-12 in the Massachusetts public schools.  It is the first of various tests in the MTEL series.  The coordinator works with students on test familiarity, useful strategies, and practice.  Write to mtelcomlit@westfield.ma.edu for for information.

The Tutoring Program

Academic assistance and tutorial support are provided through the Tutoring Program. The Center is staffed with peer tutors and provides assistance in most areas of the University’s curriculum. Some academic skills and strategy assistance is available through tutoring and workshops. Tutoring and study skills assistance is available for all undergraduate students enrolled at the University and is free of charge. Questions may be directed to tutor@westfield.ma.edu or academicskills@westfield.ma.edu.

Telecommunications for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and those with Speech Disabilities.

The University community has several modes of communication. The University accepts phone calls through relay services, email is an official form of communication on campus and there is a tty/tdd at the Switchboard, 413-572-5250 (v/tty) which is open during weekday business office hours only.

Ely Library Services And Facility

Westfield State’s Ely Library provides the information resources, services, and the help you need to be successful in your academic work. Located adjacent to all the services of the campus center in Ely Hall, the library provides the largest academic space on campus, with quiet study space, group study rooms, computer workstations, laptop computers, copiers, scanners, and wireless access throughout. The library also serves as a campus cultural center, hosting activities such as poetry readings, author events, displays of artworks, and musical performances. For current library hours, please visit the library’s website at http://lib.westfield.ma.edu

Collections:  The Library provides access to thousands of journal titles through databases and individual subscriptions. Content covers all subject areas and includes such well-known databases as JSTOR, PsycINFO, ERIC, Academic Search Premier, Literature Resource Center and over 100 others. The Library’s physical collections total over 150,000 items in a variety of formats, plus electronic access to books, data, and streaming music and video.

The Education Resources Collection houses curriculum materials in support of the Education program. It contains assessment materials, lesson plans, children’s literature, educational and psychological tests, educational software, and more.

The University Archives collect, preserve, and provide access to the rich history of Westfield State University. Access to the Archives is by appointment.

Services:  Librarians can help you find the information you need for your papers and projects. Help is available in person, by e-mail, and online chat. Librarians offer group and individual instruction in the use of information resources, teaching over 250 classes per year and reaching thousands of our students.
Interlibrary loan is available to students, faculty, and staff at no cost Stop by the Circulation Desk at the library, or fill out the online request form on our website.
Course reserves are available at the Circulation Desk near the entrance to the library.
Contact Information:

Website: http://lib.westfield.ma.edu/
Phone: (413) 572-5251

Requesting Transcripts

Transcripts are issued by the Office of the Registrar for Day Division students, and by the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education for students registered through that office. Transcripts must be requested in writing by the student. Telephone requests are not accepted. There is a processing fee for each transcript. A printable form is available at westfield.ma.edu/registrar.

Students may request unofficial copies of their transcripts for their own use or sealed, official copies to be hand-delivered by the student. Sealed, official transcripts are stamped “Not valid if seal broken” on both the transcript and envelope.

Note: The wording of the above policy has been modified to provide students with additional information about how the policy is applied and/or procedures to follow when applying the policy. The exact wording of the original policy may be found in the Westfield State University Policies and Procedures Manual.