University News

President's Reception Introduces WNE as 'New Traditional University' Honoring Tradition and Embracing Innovation

Published: October 28, 2021 | Categories: All News, Alumni
Dr. Johnson at the President's Reception

Western New England University alumni and friends joined President Robert E. Johnson at the Springfield Sheraton on Tuesday, October 26 to celebrate and honor the tradition of WNE while building into the future, a future where WNE will be recognized as an institution that provides Powerful Preparation for the Future of Work.

The event was the first in a series of receptions to be hosted in the northeast and mid-Atlantic in the coming year, to recognize and celebrate WNE as a 'New Traditional University' that is agile, grounded in professional studies, and enhanced by the liberal arts and mentored research.

"When I think about Western New England University, in the present, we are now a new traditional University, with an agile mind education, of personal exploration and growth,' said President Johnson.

With future industries yet to be defined, President Johnson noted that 65 percent of jobs available for current students do not yet exist in name or title. "This is the world of work that we prepare our students for—for jobs that do not yet exist, to solve problems yet to be identified, utilizing technologies that have not been created," he said. "We are an institution that is more and more, and we are going to boldly take this University where we have never gone before."

"We are WNE, the future is ours," President Johnson said. "I'm committed to continuing to build on the foundation that has been established over the last 100 years. We need you, each and every one of you, as alumni, parents, donors, and friends, to strengthen the WNE network and to shape the bright future we all will share."

The program included insights and perspectives from WNE administrators, faculty, and students including Beverly Dwight, Vice President of Advancement; Christian Salmon, Associate Professor and Chair of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management; and Peyton Calvao, a senior Pharmacy Studies major pursuing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

"President Johnson is an innovator," said Beverly Dwight. "During his short time at the helm of the University, he has already led us through a process of strategic visioning. In that process we not only looked forward but we also validated the importance of the rock solid foundation that forms the Western New England of today. That foundation is something that each and every alum had a hand in building."

Active hands-on learning opportunities, advanced degree programs, and certificate programs are continually evolving campus-wide. In the WNE College of Engineering undergraduate and graduate programs, the importance of adopting a continuous learning model is reinforced and implemented with professional certificates, such as Lean Six Sigma, now part of the undergraduate curriculum.

Additionally, through the Center for Global Health Engineering – a nexus through which interdisciplinary education, research, and development partnerships are established with national and international organizations that support  – and Innovation CZ, an organization partnering with low-resource communities to identify and address healthcare inequities, Professor Salmon and his students deploy technologies and methodologies they have developed to work with low to middle income countries, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to find healthcare solutions that are transferable and can be implemented sustainably.

Professor Salmon tasks his students with drafting a five-year plan to forecast where they think they will be and how they will continue to update their skills along their professional journey. He encourages students and alumni professionals to continuously update their skills through advanced education, graduate certificates, and professional development.

"Preparing our students for the future of work is a challenge, and the staid world of academia has to change," said Christian Salmon, referencing that current students will likely have five careers and 15 jobs over the next 40 years. "We need to train our students for global agility. Global in that the competition and the opportunities are now global.

Sharing a current student perspective, Peyton Calvao reflected on her studies, practical experiences, and the impact of mentors within the WNE Pharmacy program.

"Here at WNE, I feel wholeheartedly that I have grown as a person," said Calvao, who works on site at different community-based locations – such as pharmacies, grocery stores, clinics, and hospitals – as part of the WNE Pharmacy program. "I have met many great people who have taught me life lessons, who have helped light the path for me towards my future goals."

Together, current students, alumni, parents, and friends of the University play an integral role in continuing to honor the tradition of WNE while building the future.

"We need your work, worth, and wisdom day in and day out," said President Johnson. "The best is yet to come. We are going to honor our tradition while embracing innovation and we will provide the Powerful Preparation for the Future of Work."

President Johnson encourages alumni to stay connected with classmates, friends, faculty, and current students. "Share internship and employment opportunities with our career services office; share your time and talents as volunteers, mentors, and classroom speakers; and invest in our future by making a gift to the University," he said.

Additional President’s Receptions for WNE Alumni and Friends are scheduled for spring of 2022 with stops planned in Washington, DC on March 29, Boston on April 26, Providence on May 10, Hartford on May 12, and New York City on June 14. More information and details will be available soon.

"We are so proud of our Golden Bear Nation," said Beverly Dwight. "Truly, when we harness all of our collective energy and talent, there is no limit as to what we can do together."

To learn more about alumni engagement and volunteer opportunities, upcoming events, or to make a gift to the University, visit

View photos from the Springfield Reception here.