School of Law News

Western New England College to Become a University

Posted Monday, April 18, 2011

Western New England College has been awarded university status by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. The College plans to change its name to Western New England University on July 1, 2011 – 60 years after it first adopted the Western New England name.

“The name university better reflects our growth, our diversity, our expanded graduate offerings, and our comprehensive nature,” says Anthony S. Caprio, Western New England president. “The transition to University status will position Western New England to fulfill our potential as a regional and national leader.”

---While the name will change, President Caprio says the character of the institution will not. “We have no plans to sacrifice the personal attention provided to students, the collegial atmosphere on campus, or the flexibility that comes with being a relatively small institution,” says Caprio. “The goal of the University's founders was to provide outstanding academic programs with a professional focus that prepare our graduates to become leaders in their fields and in their communities. That commitment will remain in place, stronger than ever.” 

In 2009, Western New England identified a change in status from "college" to "university" as one of the eight key directions outlined in its Strategic Plan for 2009-2018 and began taking steps in preparation for such a transition. This included the development of a second Ph.D. program, one in Engineering Management, to join the Ph.D. in Behavior Analysis.

Between now and July, Western New England staff will be working to make a myriad of changes to its Springfield campus, including updating signage and scores of publications to reflect the new name. The school will also be communicating with current students and alumni about the changes in store. “We want them to be excited about this new chapter in the institution’s rich history,” says Barbara A. Campanella, Vice President for Marketing and External Affairs. “Becoming Western New England University will signal to the world the depth and breadth of our academic offerings and increase the value of the diplomas of both existing and future alumni.” Western New England will have dedicated pages on its website (www.wne.edu) to provide information about the process and answer questions that alumni may have.

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Campanella says the name change will help Western New England draw students domestically and internationally. “It allows us to compete more effectively with many of our peer institutions in other states that have become universities and with which we share common student applicants,” she says. “It also allows us to be more attractive to foreign students, given the different definition of ‘college’ outside the United States and the international perception that a ‘university’ represents the highest level of education possible.”

Western New England was founded in 1919 as the Springfield Division of Northeastern College, known as Springfield-Northeastern. The Division was originally established to offer part-time educational opportunities for adult students in law, business, and accounting. In 1951, an autonomous charter was obtained to confer the degrees of Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Laws, and what was then called the Springfield Division of Northeastern University was renamed Western New England College. Today, Western New England offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees through its Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Law. A new School of Pharmacy will enroll its inaugural class of 75 students in August.

Following the July 1 transition, Western New England University will be comprised of the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Pharmacy, and the School of Law. The institution projects increasing undergraduate enrollment from its current level of 2,500 to approximately 3,000 over the next decade. Western New England also educates approximately 1,200 students in various graduate programs and the School of Law.

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