In Brief

By Damon Markiewicz
Associate Director for Media Relations

Springfield College Commencement Weekend

Springfield College opened the 2021 Commencement weekend ceremonies with a virtual presentation on Friday, May 14, with His Excellency Charles D. Baker, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, delivering the commencement address. Following Friday’s virtual opening celebration, the College hosted eight separate in-person ceremonies, four on Saturday, May 15, and four on Sunday, May 16, under sunny skies at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field on the main campus.

“After such a challenging year, these celebrations are something to look forward to and a wonderful way to celebrate the accomplishments of our students,” said President Mary-Beth Cooper. “Student input in these decisions has been important and helpful, including responses to the survey and student leader involvement on the commencement committee.”

Video streams were accessed through a livestream webpage, including the in-person ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday.

Bestselling Author Ibram X. Kendi Delivers Arts and Humanities Lecture 

President Mary-Beth Cooper hosts author Ibram X. Kendi in a virtual conversation during the Arts and Humanities Speaker Series.

Springfield College welcomed Ibram X. Kendi, noted antiracist scholar and bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist at the 2021 Springfield College Arts & Humanities Speaker Series lecture, the annual endowed series made possible through the generosity of Carlton ’63 and Lucille Sedgeley.

Dieujuste Named Vice President for Student Affairs

Slandie Dieujuste, PhD, has been named vice president for student affairs at the College, and in this role joins the president’s leadership team. She most recently served as vice provost for student affairs/dean of students at Massasoit Community College.

Slandie Dieujuste
Slandie Dieujuste

She will play a key leadership role in developing a comprehensive co-curricular vision for life on campus. Dieujuste will lead the Division of Student Affairs, which includes the following offices and programs: spiritual life, community standards, alcohol and other drug education, dean of students, student orientation programs, career center, counseling center, housing and residence life, student activities and campus union, campus recreation, center for service and leadership, and the health center.

Dieujuste received her PhD in higher education administration from Andrews University and a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College.

Master of Education Program in Sport and Exercise Psychology Unveiled

Springfield College has unveiled an online Master of Education program in sport and exercise psychology. The first cohort of students will begin in fall 2021. This is the only online program in this academic concentration in New England.

This master’s program is designed to provide students with a holistic perspective of sport and exercise behavior, encompassing focus on psychological, sociological, and physiological aspects of sport and exercise. The interdisciplinary nature of this unique program provides graduates with the ability to translate theory to practice, and equips them with the skills required to help individuals maximize their sport and exercise performance.

Vaccinations for Fall 2021

As part of the plan to return the College to more typical operations, Springfield College administrators will require all undergraduate and graduate students who study on the main campus to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester. Members of the faculty and staff who are in direct contact with students also will be required to be fully vaccinated — two weeks past the second dose for Moderna and Pfizer or the only dose for Johnson & Johnson — and all others strongly encouraged to do so. A process will be in place for accommodating medical and religious exemptions. Consistent with CDC guidance, those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 did not have to be regularly tested beginning May 17. 

College Names Zapatka Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Beth Zapatka
Beth Zapatka

Beth Zapatka has been selected to fill the role of vice president for institutional advancement, following a national and competitive search. Zapatka comes to Springfield College from Yale University, where she served as the associate dean for development and alumni affairs in the School of Nursing. Zapatka joins the president’s leadership team and oversees all institutional advancement efforts, including the departments of development, alumni relations, and advancement services.

In a nine-year career at Yale, Zapatka held numerous roles in institutional advancement. In her most recent role in the School of Nursing, her accomplishments included securing significant new resources–nearly tripling contributions to the school–overseeing a re-branding campaign, building university-wide collaborations, broadening the use of social media platforms, and re-invigorating the alumni and advisory boards.

Clubs and Organizations 2021 Awards Ceremony

The Springfield College Student Government Association unveiled the 2021 Clubs and Organizations awards via video, highlighting the Mission Award, Program of the Year Award, Bankers of the Year Award, Consider it Done Award, New Club of the Year Award, Unsung Hero Awards, Club/Organization of the Year Award, and Adviser of the Year Award. 

Springfield College Virtual Band Concert and Music Student Showcase

Members of the Springfield College band, along with featured music students from campus vocal and instrumental studios, in May presented a program of music recorded throughout the spring semester. The repertoire performed ranges from traditional to contemporary styles and focuses on themes of hope, mental health, and social justice.

Guerrero Joins Springfield College as Vice President for Finance and Administration

William Guerrero
William Guerrero

In March 2021, William Guerrero, joined Springfield College as the vice president for finance and administration. Guerrero joins the president’s leadership team, and his responsibilities include leadership for effective long-term planning and annual budgeting, overseeing business operations, investment management, facilities management, information technology, auxiliary enterprises, and risk management.  

Guerrero comes to Springfield College with more than 22 years of experience in education administration, 19 of them in higher education. Most recently, he served as the vice president for finance and administration at Ithaca (N.Y.) College. Previously he served as the chief financial officer at Albertus Magnus College and at The Foote School in New Haven, Conn.  

Students Awarded 2021 Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative Honors

Several Springfield College students were recognized and received awards from the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative for their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. This annual award recognizes students who have started their own businesses. All 2021 award winners were honored at the Grinspoon Virtual Celebration of Entrepreneurial Spirit in April. 

Department of Communications/Sports Journalism Earns Mark of Excellence Awards

The Department of Communications/Sports Journalism was recognized with numerous awards and honors at the recent Society of Professional Journalists Region 1 2020 Mark of Excellence Awards virtual ceremony. The society’s region 1 comprises Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Department of Physical Education and Health Education Well Represented at SHAPE America National Virtual Convention

The Department of Physical Education and Health Education (PEHE) was well represented at the 2021 Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) National Virtual Conference in April. PEHE faculty, alumni, and students presented scholarly work and research to an international audience. Several alumni and students were recognized with awards.

#StopAsianHate Community Town Hall

Members of the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement and the Y Club invited the campus community to participate in the virtual #StopAsianHate Community Town Hall in April.

This event was open to the public. Keynote speakers, panelists, members of the Springfield College community, and other guests addressed and confronted the hate crimes that Asian Pacific Islander communities face, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congressman Richard E. Neal at Fourth Annual Legislative Breakfast 

President Mary-Beth Cooper hosted U.S. Congressman Richard E. Neal, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and other local and state elected officials for conversation during the fourth annual Springfield College Legislative Breakfast held virtually in March.

2021 Legislative Breakfast
2021 Legislative Breakfast

Honors Program Student Named First Scholarship Recipient

Honors program student Laura Tran was announced as the first recipient of the Eliott G. ’74 and Deborah Baker Endowed Scholarship Fund. Tran was recognized as a student who has demonstrated high academic achievement and a love of learning throughout her educational career.

Office of Multicultural Affairs Hosts Annual Women’s Tea

The Office of Multicultural Affairs hosted its sixth annual Women’s Tea in March, this year in a virtual format. This annual campus event recognizes International Women’s Month, and celebrates feminism and women leaders from the campus and the community.

College Named to Phi Theta Kappa Transfer Honor Roll for Sixth-consecutive Year

For the sixth-consecutive year, Springfield College has been named to the Phi Theta Kappa Transfer Honor Roll, which identifies the top four-year colleges and universities for creating dynamic pathways to support community college transfer students. Springfield College is one of only 150 colleges and universities in the country to be recognized for this honor, including one of only six colleges and universities in Massachusetts.

Philosophy and Religion Spring Forum: Follow Your Conscience

During the virtual Philosophy and Religion Spring Form Speaker Series, Peter Cajka explores how, from the Cold War to the cultural revolutions of 1968, American Catholics invoked conscience rights against authority in the church and in the state.

The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences hosted its Philosophy and Religion Spring Forum Speaker Series in March, featuring a virtual lecture by Peter Cajka, PhD, from the University of Notre Dame.

Pride Parade

2021 Pride Parade
The 2021 Pride Parade marches up Alden Street to Naismith Green.

Springfield College hosted its first Pride Parade to kick off the weeklong Rainbow Fest that was coordinated by the Student Gender and Sexuality Alliance, the Y Club, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Students, faculty, and staff wearing rainbow colors and carrying signs and pride flags convened at the President’s Residence. The marchers paraded west on Alden Street past Gulick Hall and the Harold C. Smith Learning Commons, to Hickory Street past Cheney Dining Hall, and onto Naismith Green, where the President welcomed marchers, and representatives of the coordinating organizations spoke.

Doctor of Physical Therapy Student Finalist in National Essay Contest

Xavier Gibson
Xavier Gibson

Doctor of Physical Therapy student Xavier Gibson was selected one of two finalists in the annual physical therapy essay contest, co-sponsored by the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy Consortium for the Humanities, Ethics, and Professionalism, and the Journal for Humanities in Rehabilitation (JHR). Gibson’s essay scored in the top three after two levels of judging, and will be published in the fall 2021 issue of the journal.

Springfield College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards

As part of the Springfield College eighth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture, the third annual Springfield College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Awards were presented to individuals and student-groups from the College and greater Springfield communities. The awards recognize those who have made a significant contribution to diversity and inclusion on campus or in the Springfield community.

Springfield College Names Nicole D. Coakley Center for Service and Leadership Assistant Director

Nicole D. Coakley
Nicole D. Coakley

Nicole D. Coakley has been named assistant director of the Center for Service and Leadership following a national search. Coakley has more than 20 years of experience in community service programming, collaboration, leadership training, budgeting, and supervision.

Physical Therapy Professor Appears on Survivor Corps COVID Live Webinar Series

In the spirit of our Humanics philosophy of providing leadership in service to others, Professor of Physical Therapy Angela Campbell was recently a special guest on the Survivor Corps COVID Live Webinar Series providing expertise regarding the P.A.C.E.R. Program (Post-Acute Covid-19 Exercise and Rehabilitation) and a physical therapy approach to COVID recovery.

Assistant Professor’s Health Sciences Research Recognized 

Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Megan W. Harvey recently wrote original research that earned the distinction of Editor’s Choice for the November/December issue of Women’s Health Issues, the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, D.C.

COVID Tuition Assistance Fund

During the pandemic, the Office of Financial Aid received financial hardship appeals from students who requested additional aid. The students cited the effects of the pandemic on their families’ finances. Many had a parent who lost a job or was furloughed, while others reported a loved one who contracted COVID-19, causing difficulty for their family.

In response, Springfield College created the COVID Tuition Assistance Fund and, with funds received from donors, faculty, and staff, made one-time grants to students for the 2020-21 academic year, to help them bridge the gap, allowing them to return for fall and spring semesters, while their families recovered.

This tuition assistance program was vital to retaining many students and keeping them on track to graduate. According to Troy Davis, director of financial aid, 42 students benefitted from more than $68,000 in funds donated for this purpose. These were College grants and do not have to be repaid, allowing students to get the support they need without taking on additional debt.

Spring Speakers

Sports and Social Justice Symposium Features Daughter of Tom F. Waddell ’59

The Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement hosted the sixth annual Sports and Social Justice Symposium in April featuring Jessica Waddell-Lewinstein Kopp, the daughter of Dr. Tom F. Waddell ’59, an Olympic athlete, and social justice giant. Although Waddell died when Jessica was just three, she has taken the torch from both of her parents—co-founders of the Gay Games—to continue promoting a level playing field for all.

Following the presentation, the Tom Waddell Level the Playing Field Award, presented annually to a student-athlete who has worked diligently to build a fairer and more just world, was presented to the 2020 and 2021 recipients. The 2020 award winner was Chris Tringali ’20. Tringali was a men’s track and field student-athlete, and an active member of the alternative spring break program. The 2021 award winner was student trustee and men’s track and field standout Kris Rhim ’21. Rhim is the president of the Men of Excellence club, and led many social justice and equality initiatives on the campus. 

Olympic Gold-Medalist Presents Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture

Tommie Smith
Tommie Smith

Olympic gold-medalist, coach, educator, and social justice activist Tommie Smith was the keynote speaker at the eighth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture in February. This year’s lecture was titled, “Power of a Dream. Unity Wins.” The Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture honors the history of inclusion and diversity at Springfield College and is presented by the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement.

Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship Hosts Annual Spring Semester Lecture

The Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship hosted its annual spring semester lecture in March, featuring Mary E. Kite, PhD, professor of social psychology at Ball State University.

Mental Health Counselor Speaks During Cultural Connections Event

Jeff J. Rocker
Jeff J. Rocker

The Office of Multicultural Affairs hosted nationally recognized licensed mental health counselor Jeff J. Rocker as part of the Cultural Connections Speaker Series in February. Rocker’s virtual presentation was focused on Black mental health.

Math, Physics, and Computer Science Colloquium

Alejandro Satz
Alejandro Satz

The Department of Math, Physics, and Computer Science Colloquium for the spring semester featured Assistant Professor of Physics Alejandro Satz, PhD, who presented Defining the Entanglement Entropy of Quantum Fields. The virtual presentation was hosted in March.

Sport Management and Recreation Department Hosts Weckwerth e-Series

The virtual Weckwerth lecture featured, clockwise from top left, Nate Harris ’08, Branwen Smith-King ’78. G’79, and Sean Finucane ’93, G’95.

The Sport Management and Recreation Department hosted its Weckwerth e-Series for the spring semester in March. The Weckwerth e-Series brings leading experts in the fields of sport management and recreation to Springfield College to address emerging trends in these areas.

Pride Progress Flag Raising on Campus

Pride Flag Raising on Campus Green 6-22-21
Raising the Progress Pride Flag on Naismith Green

Springfield College continued to celebrate Pride Month in June with the raising of the Pride Progress flag—a symbol that we welcome everyone to live and love freely without fear and shame. The ceremony took place in front of Marsh Memorial and was led by Springfield College Vice President for Inclusion and Community Engagement Calvin Hill, Chief of Staff Kathleen Martin, G’97, DPE’99, and Director of Spiritual Life David McMahon. 

The rainbow flag, with colors added to represent Black, brown, and trans communities, and a generation lost to AIDS, symbolizes the importance of raising the visibility of the LGBTQ experience. Springfield College also paused to express gratitude for LGBTQ activists before, during, and after the Stonewall riots in 1969, who advocated for gay rights.

Last summer during Conversations on Race, Springfield College chose the theme: Silence is not an option, and words without action are not enough. This commitment extends to all marginalized communities and remains central to our diversity, equity, and inclusion work. This past April, the College hosted its first Pride Parade on campus during Rainbow Fest Week to celebrate, honor, and acknowledge the diversity of our LGBTQ community and to focus on education, building awareness, and unity among the LGBTQ/ally/accomplice communities.