Western Connecticut State University

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Western Connecticut State University
WestConn logo.jpg
TypePublic State university
Endowment$12.8 million[1]
PresidentJohn B. Clark
Academic staff
223 (FT), 308 (PT)
Administrative staff
876 (223 full-time faculty, 308 part-time faculty)
Location, ,

41°24′00″N 73°26′37″W / 41.399954°N 73.443584°W / 41.399954; -73.443584Coordinates: 41°24′00″N 73°26′37″W / 41.399954°N 73.443584°W / 41.399954; -73.443584
CampusUrban, 398 acres (1.61 km2) on two campuses
ColorsNavy Blue and Rust Red[2]
AthleticsNCAA Division IIILittle East, ECAC
AffiliationsConnecticut State University System
Sports14 varsity teams[3]
MascotChuck the Colonial
Western Connecticut State University.svg

Western Connecticut State University (also known as Western, Western Connecticut, Western Connecticut State, WestConn, and WCSU) is a public university located in Danbury, Connecticut, United States.

WCSU consists of four schools and one division: the Ancell School of Business (which includes the Justice & Law Administration program), the Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Visual and Performing Arts, the School of Professional Studies, and the Division of Graduate Studies.

Founded in 1903, WCSU is part of the Connecticut State University (CSU) system, the primary division of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) system, which includes Eastern, Southern and Central Connecticut state universities; CSCU as a whole consists of those universities in addition to a number of community colleges. Between the four state universities, more than 34,000 students are enrolled, with more than 5,700 students enrolled at Western.[4] (As of the Fall 2016 semester.)

WCSU is home to the Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies, which is the result of a partnership between WCSU and the Jane Goodall Institute (a private non-profit organization that promotes research, education and wildlife conservation).

The university's Westside campus houses the Ives Concert Park, one of the premier performance venues in the area.

Western is part of the Little East Conference and New Jersey Athletic Conference.


Founding and growth[edit]

The entrance gates of WCSU's Midtown campus, located in downtown Danbury.

Western was founded in 1903 as a teachers' college, training the primary and secondary school educators for Connecticut's Fairfield County and surrounding areas. The school's name has changed over the years as it has focused on additional areas of study. First named the Danbury Normal School (also known as the Danbury State Normal School), starting in 1937 it was called the Danbury State Teachers College, a name it retained until the late 1950s. The college was renamed Danbury State College in 1959, then Western Connecticut State College in 1967, and finally, in 1983, Western Connecticut State University.[5] In 2011, governance of the university was transferred to the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system.

In 1904, 41 students were enrolled in the first classes on campus, the number of enrollments climbing to 362 students by 1912.

WXCI and music publicization[edit]

In 1968, WCSU's radio station, WXCI (91.7 FM), then going by the call sign WCST and broadcasting with AM transmission, was established.

In 1973 WCST was switched from AM to FM transmission, obtained an FCC license, was renamed WXCI, and went on air under that call sign.

In the early 1980s, WXCI became one of the first FM stations to focus on alternative rock. Throughout the 80s the station was instrumental in promoting the work of a number of contemporary bands and musicians: While the station is perhaps best known for popularizing the English band Duran Duran in the United States, it also helped to familiarize the American audience with other projects and musicians from Great Britain, such as Elvis Costello and Culture Club, and it popularized among residents of the Northeastern U.S. the West Coast punk group Black Flag and the Georgia-based R.E.M., while also providing greater listenership to New York City's Talking Heads. Thurston Moore, a founding member of Sonic Youth, attended WCSU for a quarter during the fall of 1976, though he left afterward.

Jane Goodall Institute and environmental projects[edit]

In 1995, the Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies (JGC) was founded on campus. The Center is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to environmental stewardship and conservation, and wildlife education and research, being the result of a partnership between Western and the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI). Since the Center's founding, its namesake, primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, has visited Western on at least a dozen occasions to give lectures on the issue of ecology.

The Center has also hosted a number of seminars and public talks by other environmentalist speakers at the university: Notably, Smithsonian ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin and veteran ecologist Thomas Lovejoy spoke at the university in 1998, and in 2013 ocean conservationist Fabien Cousteau presented a public seminar on campus.

In 2005, Western was established by JGI as a "National Center for University Roots and Shoots"; this event resulted in the institution of the eponymous student environmental club, a chapter of the international Roots & Shoots (also known as Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots), on campus. Roots & Shoots is a subsidiary organization of JGI, and its WCSU chapter is one of only several based in the United States. The club's office, located in the Midtown campus's White Hall, remained the first of its kind between 2005 and 2012; afterwards, the organization's international headquarters was established at JGI's head office in Washington, D.C.

Roots & Shoots serves as, according to the university and the JGC, "a regional and national office of excellence in training university students, faculty and administrators to develop programs for K-12 and college students in local, regional and global conservation."

Significant visitors and lectures[edit]

In 2005, former President Bill Clinton visited WCSU to personally thank students for their fund-raising efforts in the wake of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia: Connecticut students, including WCSU students, raised about $300,000 to fund a 1,500-student school in Sri Lanka; in an address given at the university's Westside campus William O'Neill Athletic and Convocation Center, Clinton thanked students for their efforts and stressed the importance of continuing to provide relief to disaster-stricken areas.

In 2012, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso visited the university for two public talks, speaking on both occasions at the university's O'Neill Center. As a result of his visit, WCSU became home to the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation (also known as, simply, the Center for Compassion), founded in the spirit of Buddhist karuna (compassion) and metta (loving-kindness) as an organization for community engagement and charity work on an on-campus, local, regional, and global basis; the Center promotes, publishes, and disseminates material on the intersection of creativity and compassion, while also sponsoring events, and promoting dialogue and research, related to these themes. Also as a consequence of the Dalai Lama's visit, Western was officially recognized, with then-president James Schmotter's signing of a charter, as a “University of Compassion”—a title it shares with only a handful of other universities, including Stanford—by the Compassion Action Network. Moreover, as a prelude to the Dalai Lama's visit, the Sikyong (president) of Tibet, Lobsang Sangay, lectured at the university's Midtown campus earlier that year.



  • Ancell School of Business
  • Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences
  • School of Visual and Performing Arts
  • School of Professional Studies
  • Division of Graduate Studies


Western has two campuses, midtown and westside, both located in Danbury. The campuses are three miles (5 km) apart and connected by a university shuttle service.

The midtown campus is the original campus, located on White Street near downtown Danbury and the Main Street Historic District. It is home to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Professional Studies, and most of the school's administration. Dormitories on this campus include Fairfield Hall, Litchfield Hall, and Newbury Hall. The Midtown student center is located on this campus.

The westside campus is located on land purchased in 1969 on the outskirts of Danbury. This 439-acre (1.78 km2) lot is home to the Ancell School of Business, the School of Visual and Performing Arts, the Westside Nature Preserve, an amphitheater and three residence halls. Westside also houses athletic facilities, including the William O'Neill Athletic and Convocation Center (completed in 1995), and the Westside Athletic Complex (completed in 2003), as well as an observatory with a 20-inch Ritchy-Chretien telescope and a 20-foot planetarium dome. On January 23, 2007, the Westside Campus Center was officially opened. This new facility serves as a student center, meeting and banquet facility for the Westside campus. In August 2014, the Westside campus saw the opening of the new Visual and Performing Arts Center, a comprehensive arts building with Theatre Arts, Music and Visual Arts wings.

A major improvement program was started in the mid-1990s to beautify the campus. Several parking lots became green space, and improvements were made to the landscaping. While a significant improvement, the full extent of this beautification is not immediately apparent and will take several years to reach full maturity.

In April 2013, startup of a newly installed fuel cell power unit for the Science Building on the university's Midtown campus began. The PureCell System, provided by ClearEdge Power, will support the university to reap significant energy cost savings and enhanced electricity and heating efficiencies. [6]

The Midtown campus Science Building was the first state-funded building project to seek LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Visual and Performing Arts Center as well as Centennial Hall also obtained LEED certification. In 2014, WCSU installed four EV (electric vehicle) charging stations, two on each campus. These charging stations are available to both students and the public, free of charge. The university is a participant in EV Connecticut Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions program.

The "WestConn at Waterbury" program is located on the campus of Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, Connecticut. The program offers completion courses for a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in management or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), as well as a Master of Health Administration (M.H.A.).[7]


Midtown Campus[edit]

  • University Hall (Administrative Offices)
  • White Hall (Classrooms & Faculty Offices)
  • Warner Hall (Classrooms & Faculty Offices)
  • Ruth A. Haas Library
  • Berkshire Hall (Classrooms, Gymnasium, Wellness Center & Faculty Offices)
  • Science Building (Classrooms, Laboratories, PureCell fuel cell & Faculty Offices)
  • Old Main (Registrar, Fin. Aid, Cashier & Offices)
  • Higgins Hall (Classrooms & Faculty Offices)
  • Fairfield Hall (Residence Hall)
  • Newbury Hall (Residence Hall)
  • Litchfield Hall (Residence Hall)
  • Student Center
  • Alumni Hall (Child Care)
  • Kathwari Honors House

Westside Campus[edit]

  • Classroom Building (Classrooms, Robert Young Library & Faculty Offices)
  • Campus Center (Student Center & Multi-use facility)
  • Visual and Performing Arts Center (Houses School of Visual and Performing Arts)
  • O'Neill Center (Feldman Arena, Sports Facilities)
  • Football Stadium (Westside Athletic Center)
  • Rugby Field
  • Football Practice Field
  • Softball Field
  • Baseball Stadium
  • Tennis Facilities
  • Pinney Hall (Residence Hall)
  • Centennial Hall (Residence Hall)
  • Grasso Hall (Residence Hall)
  • Observatory
  • Ives Concert Park

Student body[edit]

As of November 2014, WCSU has an enrollment of 5,952 undergraduate students, including 4,422 full-time and 1,530 part-time students. Graduate student enrollment in fall 2013 totaled 510, including 57 full-time and 453 part-time students.

5,119 students applied to the university (including 1,294 transfers). 2,191 (including 748 transfers) were accepted. Of those, 1,207 (including 451 transfers) enrolled as new full-time students.

Most of the students at WestConn come from the Tri-State Area comprising Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. Nearly all commuter students come from western Connecticut and Putnam, Dutchess, and Westchester counties in New York.

According to the university, students claiming Connecticut residency come from 99 of the state's 169 municipalities.

Women constitute 50.9% of the entering class (394 of 774), and members of traditionally underrepresented groups constitute 28.6% of the entering class (221 of 774).

The student-to-faculty ratio as of November 2014 is 13.7 to 1 (Total Student FTE divided by Total Faculty FTE).

Fulbright Program scholarships[edit]

WCSU has had a number of students receive Fulbright scholarships over the past few years: Ashley Hyde and Stephen Price in 2009, Kevin Gaughan in 2011, and Katie Marsan in 2013. The Fulbright program is an international exchange program founded in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State which awards approximately 8,000 grants a year to U.S. students and visiting students for research and teaching opportunities abroad.

Student life[edit]

Student Government Association[edit]

The Student Government Association (SGA) is the voice of the students, as well as the sole governing body over the Student Activity Fund and student organizations at the university, . The SGA has 3 branches of government: the Legislative Branch, an Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch, elected by the Student Body.

Inter-Residence Hall Association[edit]

The Inter-Residence Hall Association (IRHA) is an organization made up of and works for the resident population of Western Connecticut State University. The group organizes and hosts programs and activities throughout the academic year to build and maintain community between the university's residential students. IRHA receives its funding from laundry and vending within the residence halls, and the six Hall Councils are trained and overseen by the IRHA Executive Board. IRHA is the liaison between the university and the North East Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (NEACURH), which is a part of the National Association of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH). IRHA's vision is “Serving as a Conduit for Residents' Needs" and coincides with the Department of Housing and Residence Life's "C.U.L.T.U.R.E." program.

Fraternities and sororities[edit]

WestConn's fraternities and sororities (often called the "Greek community" or "Greek life") were first established in 1966 by the local Chi Epsilon Sigma fraternity. The university's "Greek community" is now made up of three fraternities: Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and Zeta Beta Tau; and four sororities: Alpha Delta Pi, Delta Gamma Phi, Kappa Chi Alpha, and Sigma Delta Tau.

As of May 2016, none of the Greek fraternities or sororities have an established on-campus house.

Debate Society[edit]

The Roger Sherman Debate Society participates in policy debate tournaments sanctioned by the Cross Examination Debate Association. The team competes in the North East Conference as well as the national circuit. Western is the only university in Connecticut that offers a policy debate team.[8] In the 2013 season team Kylah Broughton and Eugene Ben Allen won the CEDA regional championship and also the team was awarded first and fifth Speaker Award.[9] In 2013 the new team's website was published http://debate.wcsu.edu/.

Study Abroad[edit]

Western Connecticut State University is a member university of the International Student Exchange Program. Through this program, qualified students may select to study at one of more than 300 foreign universities, located across 50 different countries. Students may spend either one semester, a full year, or a summer session abroad, and the courses attended in foreign universities may count towards their required credits to graduate. Each semester, the university also receives incoming exchange students. They are welcomed and oriented by former study abroad alumni, and are housed in apartment style dorms on the Westside campus.

SGA Legal Clinic[edit]

Western Connecticut State University is one of the few schools in the US to have a fully funded center to provide legal counseling to students. Funded by the Student Government Association, the center provides students with initial legal counseling and advice. The clinic does not represent students in court but may make referrals for such purposes.

The legal clinic seeks to educate students about their rights and responsibilities through the sharing of information and legal resources, various informational programs and presentations, as well as individualized student counseling. Attorneys counsel and advise students on general legal concerns, consumer complaints, debts and bankruptcy, family law, landlord-tenant issues, wills and probate matters, litigation, criminal matters, administration agency matters (such as Veterans Administration), and small claims.

Established in 1998 the advisor to the legal clinic has been Dr. Harold B. Schramm, Professor of English and Justice and Law Administration.


Radio station[edit]

The college's radio station, WXCI, broadcasts at 91.7 FM to Connecticut and New York at 3,000 watts. It also streams its broadcasts on the internet at WXCI.org. WXCI's radio transmitter is located on the westside campus, while its studio is in the main campus (midtown) student center.

Student newspaper[edit]

The Echo is the university's student newspaper, founded in 1955, and subsidized by the students' activity fees. It has an editorial board which makes strategic and operational decisions on behalf of the newspaper. The Echo is published weekly in tabloid format, though in the past it has been published in broadsheet format. The Echo launched a new website, echo.wcsu.edu, in 2012.[10]


The WestConn Colonials logo, featuring university mascot Chuck the Colonial.

WestConn is a member of the NCAA Division III, the Eastern College Athletic Conference, and the Little East Conference. The university fields teams in baseball, basketball, lacrosse, football, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, and volleyball. WestConn also fields several nationally competitive club sports on campus including Men's Rugby, Women's Rugby, Dance Team, Cheerleading, and Men's Hockey.

Sports venues[edit]

  • Field Hockey: Westside Athletic Complex
  • Baseball: Athletic fields baseball stadium
  • Basketball: Feldman Arena at the O'Neill Center
  • Football: Westside Athletic Complex (a.k.a. WAC), football stadium
  • Lacrosse: Westside Athletic Complex
  • Women's Lacrosse: Westside Athletic Complex
  • Soccer: Westside Athletic Complex
  • Softball: Athletic fields softball field
  • Swimming: O'Neill Center
  • Tennis: O'Neil Center outdoor tennis courts
  • Volleyball: Feldman Arena at the O'Neill Center
  • Golf
  • Hockey: Danbury Ice Arena
  • Rugby: Athletic practice fields

Notable people[edit]



  • Patricia E. Cladis (d. 2017), Chinese-born Canadian American physicist and researcher, specialist in liquid crystal physics
    • Assistant professor of physics (taught 1963 – 1964)
  • Jimmy Greene, jazz saxophonist, gospel musician, producer
    • Assistant professor of music (teaching 2012 – present)
    • Coordinator of jazz studies
  • Sal Salvador (d. 1999), bebop and jazz guitarist, music educator and instructor
  • Deborah Weisz, jazz composer, trombonist, and musician; performer alongside Frank Sinatra from 1987 to 1994 (teaching ? – ?)
    • Adjunct instructor of music

Community projects and research[edit]

Project Clear

Project Clear is an educational program for high school students from Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman. Students conduct summer research at Candlewood Lake, as well as participate in four training sessions during the school year at WCSU. University students also take advantage of the research opportunities the lake offers, working with WCSU faculty to study invasive water species such as Eurasian milfoil.

Tick Research

Dr. Neeta Connally, Ph.D., a full-time faculty member at WCSU, conducts research on Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases in Fairfield County. Along with undergraduate students, Dr. Connally works with nearby towns to study local ticks. She also serves as scientific advisor to the BLAST (Bathe, Look for ticks, Apply repellent, Spray your yard, Treat your pets) program in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Meteorology program/Weather Center[edit]

WestConn has the only bachelor's degree program in meteorology in southern New England.[citation needed] It is part of the Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Meteorology. The program prepares students for graduate studies in meteorology and earth sciences and provides the necessary coursework for employment with the National Weather Service. It also contains an option in broadcast meteorology. The Science Building on the mid-town campus houses the Meteorological Studies and Weather Center (MSWC), which provides forecasting services for industrial and media clients, and conducts forensic climatological and meteorological studies. The MSWC also contains a TV studio, forecast center, and research area which support the meteorology program.

Astronomical facilities[edit]

WestConn houses two observatories, one public and one for undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. The Midtown observatory is located on the top of The Science Building. It is used for both students and on public viewing nights. The telescope has a 6-inch (150 mm) refractor and an 8-inch (200 mm) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. There is also a planetarium for teaching and public star shows.

The West Side campus houses a large-format thermoelectrically cooled CCD camera and is specifically used for astrophysical studies.[13]

Library archive collections[edit]

The Archives and Special Collections Library at WestConn is the archival repository for the historical records of the university and is a significant repository for collections relating to the history of the Danbury and greater western Connecticut area.[14]

The mission of the Archives is to collect and make accessible the WCSU administrative records, faculty papers, university publications, theses, visual materials, and other media created by the University. It also includes non-WCSU affiliated personal papers, local government and organizational records, visual materials, maps, journals and other media that document the history of this region. The archival holdings amount to approximately 750 linear feet.[15]

The WCSU Archives' collection is searchable through the use of the CAO (Connecticut Archives Online) or through CONSULS.

Other schools in the Connecticut State University system[edit]

Its three sister schools are Eastern, Central, and Southern Connecticut State University.


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2011. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2011 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2010 to FY 2011" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers. January 17, 2012. p. 21. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  2. ^ "Western Connecticut State University Official Color Palette" (PDF). Western Connecticut State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 25, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ NCAA.com. NCAA.com (2011-02-25). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  4. ^ "Western Facts & Figures - Office of the President". www.wcsu.edu.
  5. ^ Brown, Ray C., Connecticut Colleges that have Closed, Merged, Changed Names, retrieved January 8, 2015
  6. ^ News - Power Engineering. Power-eng.com (2013-07-09). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  7. ^ "Western at Waterbury". www.wcsu.edu/. Western Connecticut State University. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  8. ^ Gadkar-Wilcox, Wynn (January 27, 2011), Testimony for Appropriations Committee Meeting on Higher Education (PDF), Connecticut General Assembly, retrieved December 17, 2012
  9. ^ Westconn is the District 8 Northeast Champions for 2012-2013 | Western Connecticut State University Debate. Debate.wcsu.edu (2013-02-25). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 30, 2013. Retrieved April 19, 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Markus Gottschlich Joins Steinway & Sons Artists' Roster" (May 5, 2014). Steinway.com
  12. ^ Azerrad, Michael. Our Band Could Be Your Life. New York: Little, Brown, 2001
  13. ^ "Astronomical Facilities". WCSU. December 15, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  14. ^ Janick, Herbert. A people's university : the centennial history of Western Connecticut State University, 1903–2003. Danbury, Conn. : The University, 2002.
  15. ^ "Western Connecticut State University Archives and Special Collections – Documenting WestConn and its surrounding area". archives-library.wcsu.edu.

External links[edit]