Office of Communications Staff Website

Westminster College Names Dr. Michael S. Bassis as 16th President

Salt Lake City, December 11, 2001. After the full board's unanimous vote on the candidate of choice, Ginger Giovale, chair of the Westminster College Board of Trustees today announced that Dr. Michael S. Bassis has accepted and will become Westminster College's 16th president, effective July 1, 2002.

Bassis brings to Westminster College great breadth of experience in higher education, including serving as head of two colleges. A Ph.D. in Sociology of Education, Bassis has 20 years experience in higher education administration. He has taught sociology, published three books and authored numerous papers and presentations.

"I am thrilled with the appointment of Michael Bassis as our next President," said Ginger Giovale, chair of the Westminster College Board of Trustees. "Dr. Bassis brings experience, talents and ideas that make him a wonderful fit for Westminster College. He has an energetic yet understated and thoughtful way of leading change while honoring the past. He loves to tell the story of an institution he has come to admire and luckily, he has decided that Westminster College fits that description. We look forward to his leadership as we move to an even higher level of excellence."

Bassis, a tenured professor of sociology at New College of Florida, in Sarasota, is currently on sabbatical leave. During his sabbatical he is serving as senior development advisor, Association of American Colleges and Universities, and as senior scholar, at the Institute on the Future of Higher Education, Antioch University, a higher education think tank.

Members of the Institute are charged with envisioning the college or university of the future, examining how to transform education to take advantage of emerging technologies in teaching and learning, and exploring how institutions can become more learner-centered, while remaining cost effective.

His 20 years of administrative experience has most recently included serving as joint Dean and Warden of New College, Sarasota, Florida, and dean of the University of South Florida, Sarasota?Manatee Campus. Later he became warden of New College. (Warden is a title that emanates from New College, Oxford, which translates to president). During his three years there, Bassis presided over New College's change in status from a college of the University of South Florida to an independent institution in the State University System.

As president of Olivet College from 1993 to 1998, his leadership brought high praise from The Chronicle of Higher Education as well as Utah's Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Bassis' leadership at Olivet is showcased as a case study in Covey's book, Living the 7 Habits.

While at Olivet College, Bassis led collaborative processes that produced a new institutional vision, Education for Individual and Social Responsibility, a new curriculum, the Olivet Plan, and a campus-wide statement of expectations, the Olivet College Compact. The compact, resulting from a dialogue between the president, faculty and students, has become a guiding constitution for the college and is given to all entering students.

Bassis also reestablished longstanding support for cultural diversity, secured major foundation support for new initiatives, increased total annual giving, increased enrollment, and developed partnership agreements with universities, community colleges, school districts and community-based organizations. Over a period of five years, Olivet was recognized for the success of its efforts at institutional renewal by the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation.

The Chronicle of Higher Education described Bassis as a "restorer of trust at Olivet College."

As executive vice president and university provost at Antioch University the then president of the university, Alan Guskin, described Bassis as a "sophisticated planner," who was powerful and persuasive. Guskin notes that "his natural collaborative skills" served him well in unifying the five campuses around the country so they successfully worked together as a team.

"I identify strongly with the mission of Westminster College," said Bassis. "Blending and balancing the liberal arts with professional studies matches my perspective precisely. I certainly admire the progress that Westminster has made over the last 10 years. I also admire the culture of caring and commitment that has developed at the college. Just as important, I am excited about coming to Westminster because what the college says it wants, is what I do best?that is helping to develop and execute an ambitious agenda for becoming an even more prominent institution in the state of Utah and nationally."

From 1986 to 1989 Bassis served as vice president for academic affairs, Eastern Connecticut State University; from 1985 to 1986 interim assistant chancellor for educational services, University of Wisconsin-Parkside; from 1981 to 1985 he was associate dean of faculty at Parkside.

Bassis is a 1967 graduate of Brown University. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.d. from The University of Chicago.

"I am absolutely delighted that Michael will be the next president of Westminster College," said Peggy Stock, president of Westminster. "Dr. Bassis is a man of integrity and character, held in high esteem in the independent sector of higher education. Graduating with degrees from Brown University and the University of Chicago, Michael understands the opportunities and challenges of private higher education. I will be able to leave in June knowing that the college is in very good hands. He will keep the momentum going."

Westminster College, Utah's only private, nondenominational, nonprofit college, prepares its students for personal and professional success through a foundation of liberal education, combined with professional programs that include vital technological and communication skills. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Westminster in the top tier of regional colleges and universities in the Western United States for seven straight years.