Westminster Installs Bethami Dobkin, Ph.D., as the Colleges 19th President
September 29, 2018
Westminster College's Board of Trustees selected Bethami Dobkin, Ph.D., as president in March, and the college welcomed her to campus in July. She has a distinguished history in higher education as a faculty member and academic leader.
The installation ceremony began with an academic procession of Westminster faculty, deans and trustees, followed by a welcome from Utah Governor Gary Herbert's office. President Dobkin addressed a crowd of students, alumni and colleagues.
"Commitments to democracy, informed citizenship, justice, equity and inclusion, long cultivated and pursued by my parents, also informed everything that I do, and, I believe, have guided me to accept and embrace, with deep respect and humility, the presidency at Westminster College," President Dobkin said.
During her installation as president, Dr. Dobkin challenged Westminster to expand beyond cultivating wisdom and freedom of thought into developing students’ aptitude to act.
"The aptitude to act creates leaders who can build the communities that will solve today’s problems and those we have yet to imagine. And at a time when our social and political institutions seem the most imperiled, we need to provide education that reclaims our common humanity and restores our faith in democracy," President Dobkin said.
In honor of Dr. Dobkin's inauguration, Westminster College held a symposium "Which Values Will Endure in a Digital World?" on Friday, Sept. 28, with keynote speaker, Amy Loomis, Ph.D., co-founder of IBM Think Academy. The symposium included a panel discussion with Pluralsight CXO, Nate Walkingshaw, esteemed alumni and local leaders. The panelists discussed ways technological innovation improves and/or damages lives and explored the role of higher education in preparing students to live and work in digital environments.
President Bethami Dobkin served for the past 10 years as provost and vice president for academic affairs and professor of communication at Saint Mary's College of California, a private, comprehensive and Catholic university of approximately 4,000 students. She oversaw the academic vision and operational management of the college, with specific responsibility for academic affairs, student affairs, enrollment management, communications, institutional research, diversity and inclusion, accreditation and technology. President Dobkin served as a commissioner for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and on the boards of the Foundation for Hispanic Education and Ujima Family Recovery Services.
Under President Dobkin's direction, Saint Mary's College achieved upward trends in enrollment, retention and graduation rates. She led the college to achieving national recognition in hybrid executive education, performing arts, diversity initiatives, community service and study abroad; earning inclusion in the 2013 edition of Colleges That Change Lives and obtaining Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation. President Dobkin’s initiatives led to the highest graduation rates in the college's history, with a 15 percent increase in the four-year graduation rate of first-time, first-year students during her tenure; acquisition of over $4 million in federal grants as a Minority and Hispanic Serving Institution and establishment of the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence, a Bias Incident Response Team, campus-wide diversity training and the college's first chief diversity officer. President Dobkin was honored by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the "Most Influential Women in Business in the Bay Area" in 2014 and 2015, and she was identified by Diablo Magazine in 2013 as one of six "Women to Watch."
Prior to Saint Mary's College, President Dobkin was associate provost and professor of communication studies at the University of San Diego (USD), a nationally ranked, independent and Catholic institution. During President Dobkin's 17 years at USD, she also served as project coordinator for the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, director of faculty and curriculum diversity programs and department chair, earning awards in teaching, research and service for the institution and in her scholarly discipline. Before joining the USD faculty, President Dobkin directed the University of Massachusetts Public Debate program and taught at Hartford University, the University of Connecticut and the College of Our Lady of the Elms.
President Dobkin has achieved national recognition for her research and teaching in the area of media and conflict. Her honors have included a fellowship in executive leadership with the American Council on Education and lifetime membership in Phi Kappa Phi. She earned her doctorate and master's degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and received a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from Humboldt State University.
In addition to their anticipation of joining the Westminster community, President Dobkin's family is also looking forward to exploring Utah's storied landscapes with their horses. President Dobkin has been married for 24 years to her husband, Randy Chiotti. The couple has two children: Alexandra, a graduate student in the University of Oregon's master of architecture program, and Randall, an undergraduate at the University of California at Davis.