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A CENTURY IN THE MAKING 1919-2019 Ours is indeed a history of heroes—of diligent, thoughtful, and dynamic people whose contributions are easily discernible. And there are quiet heroes also to whom we are equally indebted—so many faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, and donors who have worked tirelessly with our common goal and purpose always in mind. As we continue to embark on our University journey, we look back with gratitude, and we look forward with enthusiasm and pride, knowing that we have all played a vital role in the evolution of our beloved Western New England University. Our Centennial permits us to celebrate our remarkable past, and it provides us an opportunity to define our bright future.

Anthony S. Caprio President


LEADERS AND VISIONARIES Established in 1919 as a division of Northeastern College, Western New England received its first autonomous charter in 1951. Since then its governing bodies have elected five presidents. Each of these individuals helped transform the institution into the remarkable university that it is today.

Dr. John D. Churchill

Dr. Beaumont A. Herman

First President (1951-1954)

Second President (1955-1976)

Dr. Churchill served as director of the Springfield Division of Northeastern University (19201951). When faced with the closing of Springfield-Northeastern, his visionary leadership rallied support to create an autonomous institution of which he would become its founding president.

The architect of today’s modern university, Dr. Herman had three goals: create a campus, achieve accreditation, and develop a fulltime day program. In Western New England College: A Calling to Fulfill, the first history of the University, he chronicled the rise of the institution from 1919 to 1980.


Dr. Richard F. Gottier

Dr. Beverly White Miller

Dr. Anthony S. Caprio

Third President (1976-1979)

Fourth President (1980-1996)

Fifth President (1996-present)

Under Dr. Gottier’s brief tenure, the School of Continuing Education was formed and Plymouth residential complex was opened. The School of Law came into its own with a full-time day program, ABA accreditation, and a new home in the Blake Law Center.

Seeking to balance college growth while maintaining a culture of individualized student attention, Dr. Miller’s 1979 Long Range Plan and 1980 Campus Master Plan provided a roadmap for the College to follow as it anticipated changing student interests and needs at the dawn of the Digital Age.

In recognition of the confluence of factors impacting higher education at the turn of the millennium, Dr. Caprio sought to help Western New England define its distinctive niche: the advantages of undertaking learning in an environment of integrated liberal and professional education. He led the expansion of both the campus and the comprehensive offerings of the institution, paving the way for Western New England to transition from College to University— uniquely positioning the institution to embark on a remarkable second century.


TOGETHER, WE MADE HISTORY Opportunity. Community. Accessibility. These were the tenets Western New England University was founded on in 1919. Begun as the Springfield Division of Northeastern College (University), known as Springfield-Northeastern, this new academic venture was established following WWI to offer parttime evening educational opportunities for working men and women through programs in law, business, and accounting. It was one of five divisions in New England branching out from Northeastern, whose roots began in the Boston YMCA in 1896. Springfield-Northeastern held its first classes in the Springfield Central YMCA on Chestnut Street, four miles from its present campus. Under the direction of Dr. John D. Churchill, who would later become Western New England’s founding president, the division grew in the 1920s to include the Evening School of Engineering, which in 1925 became the Springfield Engineering Institute, disassociated with Northeastern and affiliated only with the YMCA. In 1927, the business program was extended to offer a B.B.A. and the M.B.A. was introduced. By the close of the 1920s enrollment reached 400 students.

1919 The first classes are held in rented rooms of the YMCA at 122 Chestnut Street in Springfield.

1922 The inaugural class of the Springfield Division of Northeastern University graduated 13 students.

1925 An Alumni Association was established in Springfield.


1930s During the Depression years, the Springfield Engineering Institute revamped its curriculum and was reabsorbed into Northeastern University in 1930, becoming the Applied Science Program in the School of Commerce and Finance and granting the degree of Bachelor of Commercial Science (B.C.S.), the only Northeastern entity to award that degree. That year the Educational Committee of the Springfield Division became the Board of Governors, under the close direction of Northeastern University.


Dr. Clarence Chatto teaches an English class at the YMCA.

In the forties, particularly in the lean enrollment years during World War II, Northeastern University separated itself from all divisions except Springfield. Between 194145 the Springfield Division participated in the Engineering Defense Training Program and in the Engineering, Science, and Management Defense Training Program. But by the end of 1942, the law program was phased out and closed entirely because the ABA would not accredit legal programs in more than one Northeastern location. Nineteen forty-five saw the influx of returning war veterans.

1930 The Educational Committee became the Board of Governors, the precursor to today’s Board of Trustees.

1931 The School of Commerce and Finance became the School of Business.

1940 NEASC accredited all of Northeastern’s undergraduate majors.

With the Springfield Armory playing a major role in the war efforts, SpringfieldNortheastern stayed afloat offering defense-related programming.


1951 Western New England College was granted a charter.

In 1951, The School of Law was reinstituted.

1956 The original 34 acres for the present campus on Wilbraham Road was purchased. A charter amendment allowed the granting of the bachelor’s degree in any field of business administration, science, engineering, education, and law, and certain master’s degrees.

1959 The first building (today’s Emerson Hall) opened.

1950s By mid-century, the institution faced a historic crossroads. In July 1950, Northeastern communicated to the YMCA that the Springfield Division was to be terminated as soon as possible, suggesting that if it wished to continue its programs the YMCA should be in touch with another Springfield institution of higher education. The Springfield Division Board of Governors met and voted to seek a termination contract that allowed current students to finish their programs and receive a Northeastern degree. After exploring options, the board members sought to create a distinct institution. In 1951, an autonomous charter was obtained to grant and confer the degrees of Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Laws. With just three full-time employees, the Springfield Division of Northeastern University was renamed Western New England College and Dr. John D. Churchill was elected president. Following the death of John Churchill, Beaumont Herman was elected president in 1955. In 1956 the College’s charter was amended to allow a B.S. in Engineering and an M.B.A. A Day Division in Engineering and the first programs were added in 1957. The first building (known as East Building) was erected in 1959 on the new campus.


1960s Called “The Miracle on Wilbraham Road” by the local community, the land purchased by the College quickly took shape into a campus. Led by President Beaumont Herman, the 1960s saw a flurry of growth in academic programs, the physical campus, and the creation of a distinct learning community. The School of Arts and Sciences was established in 1966. Construction projects included the first administrative building, a library, second classroom building, a campus center, and the first dormitories forming the Quad, and later the first women’s dorm. The transition from a commuter campus to a residential one sparked the development of myriad student activities and support services along with personnel to oversee them, including the first athletic coach.

1961 The Western New England College Alumni Association was established.

1962 Classes were discontinued at the YMCA with the opening of a second classroom building on campus.

1966 The School of Arts and Sciences was established.

1968 Members of the Class of 1968 deliver the now iconic “Rock” to campus as a senior prank.

The Rock has be come a campus icon and community mes sage board.


24 27 22







5 9








28 12



2 4 21


The Growth of our Campus


1. Emerson Hall

9. Windham Hall

16. D’Amour Library

1959 (East Building)


1983 Renovated 2005

2. Deliso Hall

10. Sleith Hall

17. Campus Utilities Building

1960 Renovated 1985

1973 Renovated/Expanded 2014


24. George E. Trelease Memorial Baseball Park

18. Alumni Healthful Living Center


3. Churchill Hall 1962 Renovated 1988

4. Herman Hall 1964 (West Building) Renovated 2012

5. Hampden Hall 1965 (South Hall)

6. St. Germain Campus Center 1965 Renovated/Expanded 1966, 1982, 2003, 2004, & 2009

7. Berkshire Hall 1967

11. Rivers Memorial Hall 1973 Renovated 1998

12. Plymouth Complex 1978


19. LaRiviere Living and Learning Center 1999

13. Blake Law Center 1979 Renovated/Expanded 2008

14. Suprenant Fields 1979

15. Gateway Village Leased 1981 Purchased 1983 (not shown)

20. Evergreen Village 2001

21. Kevin S. Delbridge Welcome Center 2002 Dedicated 2006

23. Commonwealth Residence Hall 2003

Blake Law Center

25. Southwood Hall 2009

26. Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy 2010

27. Flynn Family Pavilion 2015

28. University Commons 2018

D’Amour Library

22. Golden Bear Stadium 2002

8. Franklin Hall 1968

Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy


1970 s 1970 Engineering students petitioned to be called the Golden Bears and the first football game was played.

1972 The College received accreditation by NEASC as a general purpose institution.

1979 The School of Law found a permanent home in the Blake Law Center.

The Seventies welcomed a surge of students from the Baby Boom Generation with undergraduate enrollments exceeding 1,700. As a stipulation for accreditation as a general purpose institution, the College was required to establish a School of Business with a day division. Interest in business and engineering programs fueled the construction of a third academic building (Sleith Hall). The University’s first gym was constructed and the football program and ROTC were brought to campus. During the tenure of President Richard Gottier, the School of Law initiated a full-time day J.D. program at a leased site, was accredited by the ABA in 1978, and later moved to the Blake Law Center in 1979. Off-Campus Programs were established at Hanscom Air Force Base to serve military personnel.



1980 s By the 1980s, under the direction of President Beverly White Miller, Western New England College was thriving with five schools (Arts and Sciences, Business, Continuing Education, Engineering, and Law), 14 varsity sports, and an enrollment of 5,398. Major construction and renovation projects and land and property acquisitions enhanced and expanded the campus, including the construction of the D’Amour Library. This decade saw the development of continuous ongoing strategic planning for the institution, growing pains as the Miller administration and expanding faculty juggled countervailing points of view on its direction, and the recognition of the need to support the diversity student experience through the creation of the Diversity Task Force and Office of Diversity Programs and Services.

Our Planned Future was the first volume of a series of long-range planning reports developed by the 23-member campus-wide Planning Committee.

The expansion of the Data General computing system and addition of computing-related majors foreshadowed the growth of technology.

1984 The acclaimed SOAR (Summer Orientation and Registration) program was started.


On November 7, 1986 a crane delivered “Spirit” the Golden Bear to campus.

The “Bring the Bear Home” campaign installed a five-ton bronze statue of “Spirit,” the beloved Golden Bear school mascot.


1992 Alumnus Rodney Smith ’89/G’03 won the Bronze medal for Greco-Roman Wrestling at the Olympic Games.

1993 The Alumni Healthful Living Center opened its doors to Western New England community members and Golden Bear fans.


1990 s Thanks to generous support from graduates who stepped up to the “Buy a Brick” campaign, the Alumni Healthful Living Center was built. The Off-Campus Programs expanded to 19 sites, serving students. Following his installation as president in 1996, Dr. Anthony S. Caprio commissioned self-studies to help inform strategic planning, including an assessment of the impact of the growing Athletics Program. The results of this research led to the development of reports and strategic and facilities master plans, which provided a roadmap for developing new academic, athletic, diversity, and support programs; enhanced campus facilities; initiatives for faculty development; improved processes through technology; increased international recruitment and travel opportunities; and enhanced alumni engagement and giving.

1998 The Athletics Report Committee’s Study of Athletics determined: “Intercollegiate sports should be an integral part of the educational experience for all students.”

1999 The Downes Athletic Hall of Fame inducted its first class.

Benefactors’ names are carved into the bricks at the entrance to the Alumni Healthful Living Center.


2002 Golden Bear Stadium opened for play, ushering in an exciting era of development of the outdoor sports complex.

2006 Transformations: The Campaign for Western New England College raised $20 million to support multiple institutional priorities.

2010 The College’s first doctoral program (Behavior Analysis) was introduced. The School of Pharmacy was established and welcomed its first learners to the Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy in fall 2011.

2000 s

2010 s

In the first decade of the new millennium, Western New England began to fully realize the impact and the potential of the Digital Revolution on how it recruited, supported, and taught students. After an intensive multiyear effort, the School of Business earned AACSB International accreditation. Modernization and expansion of campus facilities continued at a record pace. The College website became a prominent vehicle for recruitment while online learning developed into a staple of graduate study. Western New England was named to U.S. News and World Report’s list of America’s Best Colleges. The first doctoral program was offered in Behavior Analysis, paving the way for a transition to university status. Due to new state mandates on faculty credentials, the Off-Campus Programs were discontinued. The decade concluded with the establishment of the School of Pharmacy and the unveiling of the Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy.

On July 1, 2011, Western New England College officially became Western New England University. It was one month to the day that an EFT3 tornado devastated nearby neighborhoods, but left the campus virtually unscathed. The change to university status better reflected the institution’s growth, diversity, entrepreneurial culture, and expansion of graduate and doctoral offerings. Along with the change in name of the University, four of the Schools: Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy became “Colleges,” while the School of Law retained its name. The University’s tenth decade saw the institution continue to grow its physical plant to remain vibrant despite national and institutional financial challenges, population shifts, and greater competition for students. The University powered on. With the introduction of the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program and anticipated future growth, the University’s fourth college was renamed the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.


With an emphasis on internationalization, the University increases international recruitment efforts and study abroad programming.

2011 Western New England College officially became Western New England University!

Since 2011, more than $100 million have been invested in campus facilities, including new construction and renovations.

2018 The University completed the largest construction project in its history with the opening of the University Commons.


At its centennial, Western New England University has more than


bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs

3,792 students


alumni worldwide

A BRIGHT FUTURE At the dawn of its second century, Western New England University can look back with pride on all that it has accomplished and forward to a bright future. Thanks to the strong leadership of visionary men and women who sought to create an institution built on accessible higher education that creates professional opportunities for its students, Western New England University has evolved into a unique community that has launched the careers of more than 47,300 people. Join us in celebrating this historic achievement.

THANK YOU Our University is our people. Individuals create a university and are embodied in it. Each person who has been a part of our first hundred years has affected the lives of innumerable others in remarkable ways. And this pattern will continue. So much has been achieved. Just imagine all that we will accomplish in our second century!



Office of the President 1215 Wilbraham Rd. Springfield, MA 01119


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