The Edwin J. Abar - Kiwanis - Communication Scholarship
This award is presented in memory of Dr. Edwin J. Abar, Jr., Founding Chair of the Communication programs at WSU.
Dr. Abar received his undergraduate degree from Westfield State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He served fifteen years as department chair and 34 years on faculty. Also, a longtime member of Westfield Kiwanis, he retired in 2004 and the university awarded him with the title of Professor Emeritus at the 2005 WSU Commencement.
Established in 1922, the *Kiwanis Club *has been a leader in community service in Westfield. Kiwanis activities have benefitted many groups, but the Club is historically identified by its extensive contributions to Westfield’s youth. Kiwanis founded the Boys and Girls Club, Little League Baseball, the Bicycle Safety Program with the Westfield Police Department, the first Westfield High School Key Club, and the Westfield State University Circle K Club. The Annual Spring Kiwanis Television/Radio Auction, produced by the communication department, is an example of the long-standing relationship between the department and Kiwanis. The scholarship is designed to recognize the university/community service and academic achievement.
“Memories of Dr. Edwin J. Abar”
Dr. Edwin J. Abar is remembered in his hometown as someone dedicated to whatever project he began, a close friend and colleague. “He was huge at Westfield State College,” said long-time colleague Kenneth Magarian, director of special programs and community service at the now Westfield State University. "Ed did a lot for Westfield State and the Kiwanis. We were close friends since I came to the college in the late 1960s, said Magarian.
Former Westfield Mayor Garreth Lynch said “Ed and I were Owls together,” referring to the college mascot. Lynch and Abar were students and staff members at the college as well as fellow Kiwanians. “He made enormous contribution all through communications,” said Lynch.
“There were people who did not believe that a communications major would benefit students. But, my son-in-law, Alan Pierce, is one single example of the success of that department,” said Lynch noting that Pierce enjoys credits from his national television work on such shows as ‘Apprentice’ and ‘Survivor’.
Kiwanis New England Treasurer George R. Delisle said Abar “was dedicated to the Kiwanis Club, his community and many programs and activities that benefit area youth, especially those interested in the field of communications.” Delisle noted that Abar served as Massachusetts Kiwanis Lieutenant Governor in the 1990s.
Magarian said Abar started the Communications Department at the college in the 1970s and “it continues to be a very successful major here today.”
Abar had also served as the college’s sports information director, assistant basketball coach and freshman baskeball coach during the time Julius Erving played at the University of Massachusetts.
“Ed Abar was involved in everything. He was so hard working and dedicated to everything he did. He was a great guy, sincere and wonderful person,” said Magarian.
The scholarship for Westfield State juniors majoring in communications was established several years ago by Abar with financial assistance from the Kiwanis Club. At that time, Abar said “the unusual private-public sponsorship for the scholarship reflects a long standing relationship between the Kiwanis and the college.”
Dr. Abar was a faculty member at Westfield State for 34 years before retiring in 2004. At the 2005 WSC commencement, he was awarded the title of ‘professor emeritus.’ His widow, Dr. Sylvia Abar ‘71, is an alumna and former Westfield State Trustee (2007-2012), as well as the Westfield State Alumni Council. In 2015, Dr. Abar was honored by WSU with the Distinguished Alumna Award and is a long-time supporter of her husband’s legacy. It is in the spirit of dedication to community this scholarship is being offered.