Faces: Cid Seidelman
A Passion for Innovation in Learning has Helped to Reinvent Westminster
by Arikka Von (’15)
Transformation—it’s what a college experience is about. For Cid Seidelman, 34 years at Westminster has been all about reinvention. While working to transform Westminster into a powerful environment for learning, Cid also reinvented himself several times, from economics professor, to dean of the business school, then provost. Cid came to Westminster in 1980, and the wild-haired, casual economics professor was an unlikely college administrator. He seemed more the type to protest against the “man” than become one.
“I rarely wore anything other than jeans, shorts, and t-shirts. In graduate school, I won the Karl Marx lookalike contest. I also was often mistaken for Jerry Garcia.”
Cid did know how to play hard, but only because he worked even harder. In 1981 he became director of the economics program. There was no economics major before Cid. He started it on his own and later was joined by Westminster’s version of the Rat Pack, Watkins and Chapman. Those were lean times at Westminster, but Cid was not detoured. He was a teaching machine who still holds the record for the most credit hours taught in a single year.
“During those tougher times, I used to hide chalk in the ceiling tiles of classrooms to make sure there was chalk for class. I know many of my colleagues back then have their own stories of making things work with challenging circumstances.”
Cid gradually traded in his t-shirts and shorts for suits and ties. He was appointed director of the MBA program, where he guided the program through a critical change from a Master of Management to an MBA format. Then he became dean of the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business in 1990. During 13 years as dean, Cid initiated several new academic programs, guided the school through accreditation, and led the planning, funding, and implementation of the college’s $7.4 million Sam and Aline Skaggs Flight Operations Program.
As dean, Cid was always redesigning-—the college and his role in it. He reorganized the business school into a team-based approach to curricular development and assessment and then transformed himself into an aggressive fundraiser. Working with fundraisers in Advancement, he gave them a run for their money—procuring some of the largest donations the college had ever seen.
Cid loved bringing in resources to improve Westminster so much that he applied for the top job in Advancement. He didn’t get it. It was a lesson in turning disappointment into opportunity. Cid happily continued on as dean of the business school and oversaw an $8 million expansion that created the Gore Center for Business, Aviation, and Entrepreneurship. For Cid, that kind of transformation—the kind that supports student learning—was “a lot of fun.”
In 2003, Westminster was developing a new strategic plan with a new president, Michael Bassis. The new plan focused on Cid’s passion for creating innovative and distinctive programs and learning designs. As the college transformed its environment, so did Cid: he became Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. For 11 years he provided leadership for all academic schools and divisions of the college as well as for other key educational resources of the college, including student development, information technology, and institutional research.
“What’s been exciting about being provost was that Michael Bassis gave me a lot of room to operate, to implement his vision.”
As provost, Cid led Westminster through a paradigm shift from a teaching-centered to a learning-centered institution. Eportfolios, experiential learning, cross-disciplinary programs, new centers and institutes, campus internationalization, community and outdoor engagement, and college accreditation renewal are just a few of Cid’s many achievements. He’s also been instrumental in leading the college’s innovation agenda, establishing competency- and project-based curriculums. While Cid hasn’t served as a professor for many years, his goal as provost has been very much the same.
“I was a demanding teacher, but I also tried to always be supportive. I’ve taken the same approach to the overall academic and co-curricular design of the college. I wanted to make Westminster a place that challenged students while giving them support and tools to achieve their goals.”
Call it tough love because Dr. Cid Seidelman LOVES Westminster. His patient wife, Jeanette, could claim he might love Westminster more than her. She’ll have him all to herself when Cid takes his first-ever sabbatical this year. He leaves the provost post (it’s another opportunity for change) and proudly reflects less on his own transformation and more on Westminster’s.
“When I see our faculty and staff working to help our students accomplish their aspirations and become the best they can be—that’s the biggest joy I get.”
Favorite song: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
Favorite movies: Casablanca, North by Northwest, A Beautiful Mind, American Beauty, Being There, Annie Hall.
Favorite food: Indian, and anything else prepared by Jeannette.
Continually inspired by: Great art.
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster College’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.