Westfield State faculty union votes no confidence in university’s president

Hampden County

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Westfield State University officials are responding to the faculty union’s recent vote of no confidence in the university’s president.

According to the Massachusetts State College Association, the faculty’s union, 211 out of 219 faculty members said they had no confidence in Torrecilha’s leadership skills and fiscal stewardhsip of the institution.

The MSCA said they have not heard from Torrecilha or the University’s Provost since the vote was made on March 8th. 

Despite the vote, President Torrecilha still has the support of University’s Board of Trustees. Westfield State University Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Queenin called the union’s decision to call a vote of confidence/no confidence in President Ramon Torrecilha, “puzzling.”

Members of the WSU chapter of the MSCA cited President Roman Torrechilha’s “lack of cooperative leadership and his authoritarian and bullying style,” as reasoning for their lack of confidence.

“An effective and transparent leader, President Torrecilha has had the full support of the Board of Trustees throughout his tenure and the long collective bargaining process and we are pleased that an agreement has been reached on the contract.”

22News called Torrecilha’s office Friday but he was not available for comment.

Torrecilha has served as the university’s president since 2015.

Full statements below:

STATEMENT FROM WESTFIELD STATE UNIVERSITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES CHAIR KEVIN QUEENIN

It is immensely disappointing and puzzling to learn of the Massachusetts State College Association/Westfield State Chapter’s move to call a vote of confidence/no confidence in Westfield State University’s president. An effective and transparent leader, President Torrecilha has had the full support of the Board of Trustees throughout his tenure and the long collective bargaining process and we are pleased that an agreement has been reached on the contract. The Board recognizes and appreciates the president’s strategic oversight to improve the University’s overall direction and community engagement in just three years. His significant accomplishments in elevating the University’s academic profile, replacing open faculty and staff positions at a time when other organizations are not, and increasing Financial Aid and private fundraising to support student success all speak loudly to the University’s exceptional good fortune in having a leader of Dr. Torrecilha’s caliber and intellect.  

MSCA WESTFIELD STATE UNIVERSITY CHAPTER

Westfield faculty made clear that their concerns were not singularly nor primarily about the recent bitter contractual fight between the MSCA statewide union and The Council of Presidents (Presidents of the nine state universities) – even though some of the concerns of the Westfield faculty resulted from that battle. Faculty insist that the alarming issues that led to this serious vote of no confidence are the president’s lack of cooperative leadership and his authoritarian and bullying style, all of which has created a campus culture of dismissing faculty and staff input and concerns. The president has violated the important spirit of shared governance and collective decision making that distinguishes universities. He has mismanaged administrative searches and presidential appointments in very key positions, such as Provost. Central to the faculty and staff distress is the failure to keep the promise of transparency at all levels, including financial. For example, the contract battle was driven by assertion that the Universities could not afford to fairly compensate faculty for supervising students in high impact educational experiences such as internships, independent studies, studio art and music classes, clinicals for nursing students, yet the University is funding a bloated, expensive and wasted administrative structure, increasing administrative salaries and awarding bonuses to Vice Presidents and members of his administrative staff. The bonuses resulted in an inquiry last semester followed by a Board of Trustees whistleblower investigation. Faculty and staff positions are disappearing while administrative positions are ever expanding. Faculty leaders have shared these and numerous other issues with both President Torrecilha and the Provost. Since the announcement of the vote of no confidence neither the President nor any member of his cabinet have reached out to the MSCA chapter leadership.  

On March 8 in the afternoon following the vote, The Board of Trustees sent an email to the whole university community pledging “full support” for President Torrecilha, claiming he was an “effective and transparent leader.” They did this before they spoke with any faculty and without even acknowledging the stark realities of the unprecedented majority vote of no confidence. The MSCA Chapter at Westfield, despite this egregious mistake, is still is willing to sit down with the Trustees to discuss their concerns and work on solutions. Communication between the Board of Trustees and the union has now begun. The historically low morale across the campus which has severely hampered the entire university’s operations, overburdened staff, and negatively impacted students demands the attention of the whole Westfield State University Community. The MSCA Chapter is committed to working to improve the lives of all university employees and students. 

22News Reporter Hector Molina is covering this story and will bring you more information on 22News Starting at 5:00 p.m.

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