Westfield State Faculty Cite 'Bullying Style,' Vote No Confidence In President

Mar 15, 2019

Faculty at Westfield State University have overwhelmingly voted no confidence in President Ramon Torrecilha. 

According to the Massachusetts State College Association — the union representing Westfield faculty — 211 of 219 members voted against Torrecilha, citing "an authoritarian and bullying style" of leadership and poor fiscal stewardship.

In a press release from the union, faculty members said their frustration goes beyond the recent contract dispute with the university. From the press release:

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. 

Adjunct English professor Rebecca Olander, who is on the union’s executive council, said most faculty would like a new president.

“We feel like there is a lack of transparency, including financial transparency,” Olander said. “We feel that there is a campus culture of dismissing faculty and staff concerns and input. We also feel like there is an increasingly bloated and expensive administrative structure being put into place at Westfield.”

In a statement, Board of Trustees chairman Kevin Queenin said the faculty’s vote was “disappointing” and “puzzling.” He said Torrecilha is a transparent and effective leader who has raised the university’s academic profile and increased financial aid. From the statement:

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. 

A previous Westfield State president, Evan Dobelle, resigned in 2013 amid charges of lavish spending.