Grinspoon Conference Celebrates and Inspires Entrepreneurship

Posted May 5, 2015

Students interested in entrepreneurship had the opportunity to gain experience from students who have gone before them and succeeded, at Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative Awards Ceremony & Banquet held on April 22 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.


Pictured (L toR): Christopher Murray, Christopher Martin, Harold Grinspoon, Ian Kennedy, and faculty advisor Dr. Mary Schoonmaker

This annual event is the end-of-year celebration to recognize and meet fellow student entrepreneurs. Students and faculty representing 14 area colleges and universities attended, which included student business exhibits, the Live Elevator Pitch Competition as well as keynote speaker, Aaron St. John, Co-Founder & CEO HitPoint.

Western New England University senior Nicholas Haley, pitched his innovation solution for protein powder, which is individualized, edible protein packs. Western New England University junior Christopher Murray majoring in Entrepreneurship received the Concept Award for his new venture idea, Hydration Nation, a non-alcoholic beverage delivery service to campus dorm rooms.

Two of the Spirit Awards each year are designated for established new business ventures that are in the early stages of full operations. The first Spirit Award went to Western New England University student Ian Kennedy, of Enyo Software. Ian is from the School of Engineering and is graduating this year.

Click here for more photos of the awards ceremony and banquet.


Anthony Katagas ’92, to be Keynote Speaker Undergraduate Commencement 

Posted May 4, 2015

Western New England University will hold its 2015 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 16 at 2:00 p.m. in the Alumni Healthful Living Center on campus. The ceremony will include the awarding of approximately 560 bachelor’s degrees.

12yearsaslavejpgWestern New England University alumnus Anthony Katagas, one of the most prolific producers working in American independent film and winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture for his role in producing 12 Years a Slave, will deliver the commencement address and be awarded the President’s Medallion. The University awards the President's Medallion to individuals who have distinguished themselves in a particular field or in service to an important cause that has benefited their community, their region, or the Nation.

Along with his Oscar, Katagas’ awards include a BAFTA, Golden Globe, Broadcast Critics’ Choice, Independent Spirit and the coveted Darryl F. Zanuck PGA award for Best Picture. Additionally, his films have garnered nominations or awards from the DGA, SAG, National Board of Review, Gotham Awards, New York Film Critics, and Los Angeles Film Critics and appeared on the prestigious AFI list for achievement in film.
A 1992 graduate of Western New England, Katagas earned a bachelor’s degree in Government and was an accomplished lacrosse player. He went on to study acting, photography, and screenwriting at New York University and in 1999 started Keep Your Head Productions, geared towards producing independent films in his hometown, New York City.

Katagas has worked with award-winning filmmakers including John Hillcoat, Steve McQueen, Wes Craven, Lasse Hallstrom, and Sofia Coppola. He has produced films including Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly starring Brad Pitt; Justin Zackham’s The Big Wedding starring Robert DeNiro, Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon, and Diane Keaton; and James Gray’s The Immigrant starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner, and Marion Cotillard.

A native of Long Island, Katagas lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughters.

Western New England University will provide live streaming video of the Commencement ceremonies. The feed will be available on the Web at


College of Business Hosts Director of International Summer Academy at IESEG School of Management in Paris

Posted May 3, 2015

The College of Business recently welcomed Dr. Marta Marcheva, director of the International Summer Academy at IESEG School of Management in Paris. IESEG is a partner institution of Western New England University, which has received more than a dozen French students for year-long exchanges over the past three years. In the same period, Western New England has sent nine students to IESEG’s campuses; one in Paris and seven in Lille, in the north of France.


L-R: Prof. Curt Hamakawa, Director of the Sophomore Experience Abroad Program; Dr. Rick Keating, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Centers for Internationalization and Academic Initiatives; Dr. Marta Marcheva; Laura Russell ’14; and Katie Ahlman, International Student Coordinator.


Engineering Scholarship Established in Radio Frequency(RF) Field

Posted May 1, 2015

BTP Systems Inc., an engineering firm located in Ludlow, MA, recently donated $100,000 to the Western New England University College of Engineering, establishing a scholarship for engineering students and enhanced the growing partnership between the company and University. 

Bud Beaudry, (seen below) President and Owner of BTP Systems, and his wife Jill, generously created the scholarship to help increase awareness in the career field of RF/Microwave Engineering. In establishing the scholarship, they hope to encourage bright young engineers to pursue studies within this growing specialized discipline, and in turn, expand the number of local engineering professionals with an expertise within the RF engineering specialty. 


BTP Systems Inc. designs, manufactures, tests, and repairs, highly configured RF antenna pedestal systems controlled by sophisticated servo control processes for the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Army used in satellite communication (SATCOM) terminals. “Sophisticated antenna systems are a big part of what we do. Often, these antennas sit on the deck of a ship, bobbing up and down in high seas, fixed on a satellite 23,000 miles away, and they cannot lose the link for even a moment, Beaudry explained. “We reengineer a whole collection of components inside the pedestal of those antennas to make them reliable. It’s a complicated process.”

The company regularly accepts student interns to work along side their employees and has Western New England engineering graduates currently on staff. 

“It’s a good marriage. The student interns we get from the University are outstanding. We get them from the mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering departments,” explained Beaudry. One of BTP’s first interns was student Anthony Santamaria. “I understand he continued on to get his graduate degrees and was hired as a full time professor last summer, at Western New England University. We’re very proud of him and happy we could play a role in his education,” Beaudry added. 


Dr. Santamaria (seen above with student) went on to get a PhD at the University of California, Davis, before moving back to the area and joining the mechanical engineering faculty at Western New England University. “My experience at BTP Systems motivated me to pursue a research career, and to always push the limits. BTP’s projects were always exciting. As a young student it was the perfect environment to be in, and I’ll always be grateful to Bud and the BTP team for the opportunity.” Santamaria hopes to send some of his current and future students their way. 

“When we hire a recent university graduate, it’s about a two-year investment for the company to fully integrate them into our technical systems and procedures,” explained BTP Chief Engineer Rob Welsh. “When we have that potential new employee as an intern for a year before graduation, it reduces the integration process and it’s a win-win for all of us,” Welsh added. 

“The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Western New England is proud to offer an exceptionally strong RF/Wireless program at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” explained Dr. Neeraj Magotra, Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. 

RF/Wireless engineering graduates are in high demand in industry. The BTP scholarship will significantly increase support for students with interest in this field.

“We anticipate joint projects and research executed by our students, faculty, and BTP System, will provide a great benefit to all parties concerned,” added Dr. Magotra. “The students will benefit greatly from real-world project execution, and our faculty will get the opportunity to further hone their research and development skills in this area.”

For more information about the Electrical and Computer Engineering program at Western New England University, click here.


College of Pharmacy Student Society Hosts Successful First Health Education Event

Posted April 30, 2015

The College of Pharmacy at Western New England University hosted its first ever Community Health Fair on Saturday, April 11th in the Atrium of the University's Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy Building. The event was hosted by the Student Society for Health System Pharmacists (SSHP). First year Pharmacy students Pegah Shakeraneh and Vanessa Avedisian were the event co-chairs.


The Health Fair was open to the University as well as the surrounding community. Many different exhibits were available include smoking cessation, diabetes review, HIV/AIDS education, cancer prevention, inhaler use demonstration, CPR/first aid, opiate awareness, alternative therapies, stress relief, blood pressure readings, and immunization review.

The exhibits were created and hosted by the different pharmacy organizations in the College of Pharmacy, and licensed pharmacists were also available to answer health related questions that different guests had. “Overall, this event was a success and hopefully the College of Pharmacy will continue to hold this fair in the upcoming years!" said event co-chair Pegah Shakeraneh.


The American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP)/Student Society for Health System Pharmacists (SSHP) is an organization for students with an interest in hospital and other health-systems work settings. ASHP/SSHP offers students the opportunity to get involved in advocacy, continuing education, drug information, national meetings and conferences, professional policies and practice standards, publishing opportunities, as well as a multitude of residency options throughout their education and continuing into their professional careers.


University Historical Society Visits the Home of Lincoln’s Son

Posted April 29, 2015

Members of the Western New England University Historical Society recently returned from an excursion to Hildene, the Vermont summer estate of Robert Todd Lincoln. The visit was part of their semester-long program “Land of Lincoln: Exploring New England’s Place in the Life and Legacy of Abraham Lincoln.”


The only child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to survive to adulthood, Robert Todd served in the Union army during the waning days of the Civil War, became a successful corporate lawyer, accepted appointment as Secretary of War in the 1880s, and eventually served as president of the Pullman Palace Car Company. Hildene, built between 1903 and 1905, was the product of the family’s Gilded Age success story.

Accompanied by Professor Jonathan Beagle, students were able to tour the Lincoln family home, step inside an authentic Pullman Palace Car, and explore the nearly 500-acre estate on snowshoes.


“The Lincoln family story is forever tied to the saga of the Civil War in the American narrative,” explains Dr. Beagle. “But at Hildene the scene shifts to the Gilded Age and one is exposed to a side of the Lincoln legacy few appreciate. For much of the twentieth century, the Lincolns would call Hildene home, and in so doing, return to the family’s ancestral New England roots.”

The Historical Society will conclude their program in April with a tour of Hartford’s Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk, which features artwork along the Connecticut River depicting scenes from the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.


Passover Seder Brings Students Together

Posted April 27, 2015

By, sophomore Natasha Mercado-Santana


Western New England University’s Spiritual Life Club teamed up with Springfield College Hillels for a joint Passover Seder on Wednesday, April 8. The event was held at the Pueblo Meeting House on the East Campus of Springfield College from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. More than 30 students and staff from Western New England University and 10 students from Springfield College attended the Seder and began friendships they hope will continue to grow.

The Passover Seder included people of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and Baha’i faiths. Michael Bent, freshman, stated, “It was a new experience for me because I’d never attended a Seder before. I really enjoyed learning about other cultures and religions, and I made some new friendships through this experience.”


Rabbi Bruce Bromberg-Seltzer, a professor at Western New England University, led the Seder and encouraged students to participate in the reading of the Haggadah. Maxwell Franklin, senior, said, “Being a Jew who usually goes home to celebrate Passover with my family, it was a good opportunity to do something with Spiritual Life here at school and to get together with Springfield College and see their community. I also thought the interfaith atmosphere was very open, and led to some great discussions about all we have in common.” The Seder readings helped create a greater understanding of the Jewish people and their Exodus from Egypt.


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