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University History

Western New England University was founded in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1919. Begun as the Springfield Division of Northeastern College, known as Springfield-Northeastern, the University was originally established to offer part-time educational opportunities for adult students in law, business, and accounting. 

In 1951, an autonomous charter was obtained to grant and confer the degrees of Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Laws. The Springfield Division of Northeastern University was renamed Western New England College. The present campus on Wilbraham Road was purchased in 1956 with the first building, today's Emerson Hall, opening in 1959.

Our Journey to a University
Sixty years later on July 1, 2011, Western New England College officially became Western New England University. The change to university status better reflects our growth, our diversity, our expanded graduate offerings, and our comprehensive nature. Along with the change in name of the University, four of our Schools: Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy (now College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) became “Colleges.” Our School of Law retained its name.

Close-knit Yet Comprehensive
Today's students benefit from a heritage born of a commitment to providing educational opportunities to men and women of all ages and economic backgrounds. The goal of the University's founders was and remains to provide outstanding academic programs with a professional focus that prepares our graduates to become leaders in their fields and in their communities. The University's beautifully maintained grounds and 26 major buildings provide an inspiring learning environment for undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and law students from throughout the United States and abroad.

Renowned for personal attention and a culture of genuine student concern, the University offers nearly 50 undergraduate programs through Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Engineering. Graduate and doctoral programs are offered in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Engineering. The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences awards the Doctor of Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees. The School of Law has JD, MS, and LLM programs. Capitalizing on the unique mix of programs, the University also offers students numerous cross-disciplinary, combined, and accelerated degrees.

Western New England University takes great pride in the accomplishments of its more than 48,00 alumni living and working around the world.


Our institution was founded in 1919 on the core values of opportunity, community, and accessibility to higher education. Read about our historic first century and the key moments that have helped to transform our University and the lives of thousands of graduates.


Facts and Stats

Learn more about what makes Western New England University a great place to live, learn, or work.

Learn More

Board of Trustees

Members of the University's Board of Trustees give of their time and expertise to help Western New England University support its vision and mission.

The Board

History Books

Western New England's newest historical retrospective, Western New England: From College to University - A Retrospective: 1919-2011, written by former University Archivist Rosemary O'Donoghue, published in 2011.

Western New England's first history, Western New England College: A Calling to Fulfill, written by Dr. Beaumont A. Herman, President Emeritus, published in 1980.

A Rich History

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    From modest beginnings with classes offered in Springfield's YMCA, Western New England University has become a leader in high quality, highly personal private higher education. Watch our latest video to see how far we've come.

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