Leadership Institute 2016: Skills for Personal, Organizational, and Community Development

Posted February 5, 2016


Western New England University and the Springfield Regional Chamber are partnering to offer “Leadership 2016: Skills for Personal, Organizational, and Community Development.” Seven consecutive sessions will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Thursday from February 11 through March 24.

This year’s Leadership Institute includes an emphasis on strategies and techniques designed to create high energy and high involvement leadership. Sessions will focus on problem solving, learning to ask the right questions, and implementing creative and innovative solutions for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Participants will actively explore best practices of leaders; analyze their own leadership, learning, and problem solving styles; and experience the synergies that result from high performing teams. The emphasis will be on experiential activities that provide opportunities to dentify, develop, and refine skill sets for effective leadership.

The tuition cost, including a day trip to Boston and graduation dinner, is $885 per participant. All sessions are held in the TD Bank Conference Center, 1441 Main Street in Springfield. Parking will be validated. For more information about the program, application process, or tuition, contact Kara Cavanaugh at 413-755-1310 or at cavanaugh@myonlinechamber.com.

This program is sponsored by MassMutual Financial Group, and supported by The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation.


Students Inspired to Plan Autism Awareness Week

Posted February 4, 2016

By sophomore John Abbott

Western New England University’s student organization, Community Action Rewards Everyone (CARE), is going beyond educating students and staff during Autism Awareness Day on April 2, instead the entire week, starting on March 27th, will be devoted to Autism Awareness events.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, present from early childhood that causes difficulties in forming relationships or communicating with others using language and abstract concepts. Even though one out of every 68 children is affected by autism, many people are unaware of the severe affects this disorder can cause. Autism is very unique in how no two children are affected quite the same way. The organization Autism Speaks works globally to help raise awareness with events like Light It Up Blue, in which people are encouraged to wear blue clothing to show support for individuals and families affected by autism.

autism_awarenesspngThe effort to plan an Autism Awareness “Week” was inspired by Christina Bailey (photo left), a volunteer for Autism Speaks. Bailey’s eight-year-old son Benjamin was diagnosed with moderate Autism Spectrum Disorder since the age of 2. This form of autism does not affect Ben’s intelligence, in fact he is highly functioning thanks to early treatment. Instead it impairs his social skills and caused a receptive language delay. Ben becomes frustrated whenever there is a communication misunderstanding, and that makes it difficult for him to speak.

Ben has been in and out of home therapy, a therapeutic mentor, and an occupational therapist. Services like these tend to be quite expensive, and can create an issue for some families who can’t afford the treatments. Ben is able to get what he needs but it can be a lot of work. “There is lots of paperwork, appointments, research and meetings,” remarked Bailey. “Parenting a child with autism is rewarding but exhausting work.”

CARE is working closely with Bailey to develop a full schedule of awareness events to help the entire community of Western New England University get involved in Autism Awareness Week.

Western New England University College of Arts and Sciences partners with the prestigious New England Center for Children, which specializes in educating children on the autism spectrum. For more information about the University’s Masters and Doctoral degree programs in Applied Behavioral Analysis click here.


University to Host Spring Study Abroad Fair

Posted February 4, 2016

By Sophomore Gabrielle Kiss


Western New England University will host a study abroad fair for students interested in learning more about study abroad opportunities. The fair will take place in the St. Germain Campus Center from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 11. 

There will be several displays of international programs where students will learn about short-term seminar trips to destinations such as Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Nicaragua, Poland/Czech Republic, and Spain, as well as displays for the University Summer London program and the Sophomore Experience Abroad program in England. 

Students will also have the opportunity to meet with representatives from traditional semester-long programs at universities around the world. 

For more information, contact Assistant Director of Study Abroad Josie Brown-Rose at josie.brown-rose@wne.edu


University Art Gallery Features Unique Exhibit with a Deeper Purpose

Posted February 3, 2016

by junior Natasha Mercado-Santana


Western New England University’s Art Gallery, located in the St. Germain Campus Center, hosted the opening reception for the “Keeping the Arts Alive” art show on Sunday, January 31. The show consists of works by local artist Don Blanton and his ARTEsteem students.

blanton_3png“The most important purpose of this show is to showcase these amazing kids,” said Blanton. (photo left) “It’s important for these young people to have the opportunity, not just to sell their work, but to show the general public their work, and to experience a University campus environment.” Allison Pollard, (photo below) a student of  Blanton, was excited and proud to display her work. The fourteen-year-old painted Owl using bright colors to contrast a black background. “I wanted to do something different and express the beauty of nature the way I see it and feel it,” she explained.

Don Blanton founded ARTEsteem with his brother nearly 50 years ago. “In 1967 there was race rioting in Springfield, and my brother and I went out and talked to people about respect and about focusing on something positive,” Blanton recounted. “The positive thing that we decided to do was art, so we got a lot of kids involved in art, and the rest is history.” The purpose of this program is to use art to build self-esteem in the students.


The University Art Gallery Curator, Patricia Jenks explained, “I’ve been fortunate to have found many inspiring artists over the years, living in Western Massachusetts, and Don Blanton is among my favorite.” Western New England University hosts three art shows every semester. This exhibit is the second time Don Blanton and his ARTEsteem students have been showcased at Western New England.

“This community show is always hugely attended because the families of the kids come,” she said, “And it’s wonderful. It’s confidence-building for them.” Gallery Talks are held on the Thursday after the opening, giving the artist an opportunity to talk about their work, process, and history as an artist, with a question and answer session at the end. Don Blanton’s Gallery Talk will be held on Thursday, February 4, at 7:00 P.M. in the Art Gallery. This exhibit will run through March 3. 


The Western New England University Art Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

For information and directions to the gallery visit www.wne.edu/arts 


ESPN’s Buster Olney a “Hit” with Students

Posted February 2, 2016

Baseball writer and commentator Buster Olney delighted a jam-packed Wood Auditorium of students at Western New England University Thursday evening. Olney discussed aspects of his long and successful career before answering a wide range of students’ questions, and then stayed on to chat one-on-one with students.


Widely respected for his inside knowledge of Major League Baseball players, managers, front-office personnel, and impending transactions, Olney shared insights and opinions on the upcoming season, including his prediction of teams in the 2016 World Series: Chicago Cubs vs. Kansas City Royals.

Olney told a story about a newspaper editor early in his writing career, who had such a low opinion of Olney’s ability that he pegged him “to not advance beyond covering high school sports.” That was a pivotal moment for Olney, who has since risen to the pinnacle of his profession. He told students that they should not be defined nor feel constrained by anyone in pursuit of their careers. He added that “Writing is a craft that can be constantly improved over one’s lifetime.”


Center for International Sport Business (CISB) director Curt Hamakawa said that the speaker series’ design, including a pre-event reception, the conversational format program with Q&A, and a post event meet-and-greet with photo-ops, provides students with multiple settings to practice their business social skills. Hamakawa added that “The students’ ability to get close and personal with Olney, as with other guests, is among the many things that make Western New England University a unique and special place to study and learn.”

Olney’s appearance was arranged by his prep-school friend and Western New England sport management professor, Dr. Dan Covell, who expertly moderated the program.

Olney’s visit was part of the CISB’s “For the Love of the Games” speaker series, which is free and open the public, and proudly sponsored by the Western New England University Alumni Association.


University Students Participate in National Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

Posted February 1, 2016

by John Abbott and Jeremy Morris

vita_2pngWestern New England University College of Business Assistant Professor Ausher Kofsky, (photo left in maroon) recently organized a special six hour workshop to train students and community volunteers to prepare tax returns for low and moderate-income families. Last year, student volunteers helped prepare more than 2,500 income tax returns, which in turn generated nearly $4 million in state and federal tax refunds for local residents. The program is part of the national Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).

A total of 29 people completed the training on January 23, held in the University’s Stock Trading Room. The volunteers consisted of students from the University’s Colleges of Business, Engineering, and the School of Law. The volunteers also included members of the community from Monson Savings Bank, Springfield Technical Community College, and Valley Opportunity Council (VOC). 

The U.S. Congress sponsors the VITA program with an annual budget allocation to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), who in turn oversees the program. For Western Massachusetts, VITA is run by the local not-for-profit organization Springfield Partners for Community Action.

As certified IRS trainers, the graduates will now volunteer at Springfield Partners or VOC starting in January, through the April 2016 tax season. Leading the training were Tax Director Attorney Martin O’Connor (photo above in blue), and VITA Supervisor Willie Vega (photo above in black), both with Springfield Partners for Community Action.

For information on how to make an appointment to have your tax return prepared by a volunteer, call Springfield Partners for Community Action at 413 263-6500.


Meredith Vieira Inspires Communication Students on Field Trip to New York City

Posted January 29, 2016

by sophomore John Abbott


Front L-R: Brenda Garton, Courtney Miller, Mary Knight, Sophie Cannon, Kiara Don, Ryan Fleming, Rear: Deven Garabitos, Eric Stinson, Bobby Caruso, John Abbott, Jamie Franklin, Clair Tighe, and Doug Battema.

Eleven students and two faculty members took an exciting field trip to New York City on Thursday, January 21st, to see a live recording of The Meredith Vieira Show at 30 Rockefeller Center. The students, all majoring or minoring in communication, had the opportunity to get an up close, behind the camera view of a live network television production.

22_studiojpgThe day-long visit was arranged when the producers of the show reached out to the Department of Communication offering the students the chance explore the production of the show from a producer’s perspective. After viewing the show in the live studio, students and professors were able to speak with a line producer, and meet with Meredith Vieira herself. The two classes that went on the trip included professor Brenda Garton-Sjoberg’s Broadcast II class, and Professor and Department Chair Doug Battema’s Media Industry Government and Society class.

Communication major Ryan Fleming enjoyed spending the day in New York. “It was really cool to see Meredith Vieira live and in person and speak with the line producer after the show. And being there with all of my classmates really made the day even more fun” remarked Fleming. Viewing The Meredith Vieira show left the students of Western New England University inspired and ready to continue their pursuit of a career in the field of Communications.


For more information about Communication majors click here.


More Headlines:

Math Students Excel at National Mathematics Competition in Seattle, WA
Workshop Promotes Entrepreneurial Mindset 
32 Students Elected to Serve on Student Senate at Western New England University
University Art Gallery to Feature Work of Local Artist Don Blanton & ARTEsteem Students
College of Business Students Partner with White Lion Brewing Company
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