WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Funding was partially restored Wednesday to Westfield State University as President Evan Dobelle remains on paid administrative leave.
The school announced Wednesday the Department of Higher Education will release funding of about 195 thousand dollars to the school.
The school's acting president, Dr. Elizabeth Preston, met with the Commissioner Wednesday to talk about the money and why the school needs it.
The state froze funding amidst controversy of President Dobelle's spending habits.
The school issued the following statement:
Today Westfield State University Acting President Dr. Elizabeth Preston met with Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland. He reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s enthusiastic support for the students, faculty and staff of Westfield State. More importantly, his commitment to continue to advance initiatives that support the development and graduation of students that contribute to Massachusetts’ knowledge economy was clear.
'On behalf of the students, faculty and staff of Westfield State, I am very happy to announce the Department of Higher Education will release funding of $195,444 to Westfield State. We appreciate this vote of confidence in our university and especially in our people and our programs. We are eager to move forward with the initiatives this money will fund and to continue the important work of educating students that we do every day,”,said Elizabeth Preston, PhD, acting president.
The funding supports two Vision Project Performance Incentive Fund grants.
A grant of $97,762 will support year two work to develop the Institute for Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement, an organized, formalized civic engagement program that will enable Westfield State and its community partners to build educational tools designed to provide students with skills to become agents of change in their own lives and communities.
A second grant of $97, 682 will fund year one of a three-year plan to jump-start a comprehensive, data-driven student retention initiative. The goal is to enhance success for Westfield State’s first-year and transfer students and retain them to graduation. Westfield State’s first-year retention rates are high: 91 percent of students return after their first semester; 79 percent remain for the second year. Our current 6-year graduation rate is 59 percent, one of the highest in the system, and just 1 percent away from or 2016 goal of 60 percent.
Additionally, the Commissioner confirmed that match funding for the system-wide state university student internship program, which is pending release by the Department of Administration and Finance, is on track for Westfield State."