WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A 22-year veteran of the Massachusetts Legislature says he's stepping down to take a job at Westfield State University.

Republican state Sen. Michael Knapik (kuh-NAP'-ick) says he'll resign at the end of this week to begin work as the school's executive director of university advancement.

Knapik's resignation leaves just three Republicans left in the 40-member Massachusetts Senate. His departure will also trigger a special election to fill his seat.

Knapik released a statement Monday saying Westfield State plays "an increasingly important role in our region and our commonwealth" and that those called upon to assist in its stewardship "have an obligation to ensure it continues to provide unparalleled access for our state's students."

He also said that in his new job he'll work closely with President Evan Dobelle and the Westfield State Foundation board in advancing the university's mission.

Democratic Senate President Therese Murray called Knapik "a proven leader" who holds "an unwavering commitment to fiscal responsibility and the health of our economy."

As executive director, Knapik will be responsible for helping the university president and board of directors advance the school's mission and for working with community leaders, employees, donors, and students.

The Westfield native was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1991 and the state Senate in 1995. Since 2001, Knapik has served as the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

His district includes the cities of Agawam, Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield and portions of Chicopee; and the towns of Granville, Montgomery, Russell, Southampton, Southwick, and Tolland.


Information from: WWLP-TV, http://www.wwlp.com