Converse Hall surrounded by green trees on a sunny day

2021 Year in Review

Westminster is Back

2021 was the year of creating a “new normal,” and, for Westminster, that took shape in the form of emerging through the pandemic with resilience and a renewed craving for connections. Our community was buzzing with the energy and excitement that came with being back together at full, in-person capacity on campus. As we prepare to ring in the new year, we reflect on and celebrate another year of challenges, successes, and new traditions.

Class of 2021

two female students in cap and gown posing in front of Griffin wings in the commons

students in caps and gowns on field during graduation

In May, Westminster held the 2021 Commencement ceremonies on campus on Dumke Field. It was the first on-campus commencement in over a decade. Families and graduates gathered on the field, celebrated accomplishments, and shared the joy of being together. The Class of 2021 made remarkable achievements despite COVID-19 drastically changing their student experience.

Among the members of the Class of 2021 are:

  • 19 Legacy Scholars
  • 68 Honors College graduates (largest graduating class since founding)
  • 6 veterans and ROTC
  • 43 student-athletes
  • 4 graduates with medical school acceptances
  • 11 graduates awarded or nominated for fellowships
  • 3 graduates who are the first to graduate from Walkways to Westminster

Welcoming the Class of 2025

Brendan Sudberry speaking at Convocation

At Convocation, Student Body President Brendan Sudberry (’22) welcomed the Class of 2025 to the Westminster community and gave the reminder that we are here together to celebrate accomplishments, pick each other up when we fall, and commit to each other's success. 

Our newest Griffins represent 15 countries and 32 states. Twenty-five percent of the class enrolled in the Honors College. Nineteen percent are first-generation students—the first in their families to attend college. All students are ready to take full advantage of the opportunities and resources Westminster offers. 

Experts Exemplified

Accolades Earned

veterans marching and carrying flag during 911 Ceremony

We already know that Westminster is remarkable, but it's great to receive acknowledgment for our outstanding campus community members and initiatives. In 2021, Westminster gained its first Truman Scholar, the Ethics Bowl Team took first at regionals, and alums made impacts worldwide.

A best college in the West (Princeton Review, 2022)

#18 Best Regional Universities West (U.S. News and World Report, 2022)

#19 Best Value Schools (undergraduate) (U.S. News and World Report, 2022)

#15 Best Undergraduate Teaching (U.S. News and World Report, 2022)

Athletics

men's soccer team hugging and jumping in celebration

After 2020 brought the groundbreaking cancellation of all Fall NCAA Division II Championships, Westminster Athletics welcomed back competition amidst the COVID-19 pandemic with full conference-only schedules for each of its NCAA sports during the Spring 2021 semester.

  • Women’s Basketball Coach Shelley Jarrard finished her final season as head coach by leading the team through a string of NCAA Championship success and the Griffins’ first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II West Regional Final.
  • Men’s Lacrosse successfully defended its Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) title, and Women’s Golf captured the 2021 RMAC Championship team title.
  • Head coach Denise Larson was named RMAC Coach of the Year as the Women’s Golf program debuted at the NCAA DII West Regional Championship.
  • In Outdoor Track and Field, Aiden Urban made the first NCAA Division II Championship appearance, where he finished 10th in the 800-meter event.
  • In Women’s Cross Country, Saydi Anderson became the program’s first-ever qualifier for the NCAA Division II Women’s Cross Country Championships.
  • Westminster Women’s Soccer followed its first-ever trip to the RMAC Tournament final in spring 2021 with its second-ever trip to the NCAA South Central Regional later that year in the fall.

Westminster @ 150

Converse courtyard with fall trees in foreground

Westminster is looking ahead to 2025, when the college will be 150 years old. Working groups across campus made incredible progress on developing a strategic plan called Westminster at 150. The college is acting now for how Westminster will be for its sesquicentennial.


LEARN MORE

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

large group in front of Converse

Tamara Stevenson speaking at MLK rally

In 2021, Westminster's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion continued educating the campus community through engaging lectures and partnerships. The office was chosen as Mark Miller Subaru’s inaugural Diversity Pillar partner for the Subaru Love Promise program. It was also the only private institution in Utah selected to participate in the American Association of Colleges and Universities 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers, a 4-day virtual learning experience to identify evidence-based strategies that support their stated vision of what their communities will look, feel, and be like when the belief in the hierarchy of human value no longer exists. The office also engaged with the community through the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration, the Bastian Foundation Diversity Lecture Series, and Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Business Diversity Summit.

Westminster completed its first-ever campus climate survey in 2021—asking students, faculty, and staff to share their lived experiences, hopes, and questions. Results will be available in 2022 and used to better understand the extent to which our campus climate supports diversity and equity, which will help campus leadership make data-driven improvements to diversity-related policies and practices.

LEARN ABOUT THE SURVEY 

Nearly 350 students completed the 2021 Healthy Minds Network Study, part of the college’s partnership with The Steve Fund’s Equity in Mental Health on Campus Initiative. This annual survey analyzes mental health and related issues among undergraduate and graduate students. Follow-up listening sessions were conducted with a subset of students of color to supplement the quantitative data.

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion developed a 7-point strategy as a starting point to actualize the rhetoric of Westminster’s Diversity Statement to move conversations and actions forward based on an anti-racist, equity-informed foundation. Many strategies are already in motion. The office supported a Cultural History Archival Research Project—an exhibit on how Utah colleges and universities, including Westminster, grapple with their racist imagery of the past (and present) in consideration of promoting social justice. The office also established a Board of Trustees Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Standing Committee.


READ ABOUT THE ACTION PLAN 

A Community of Care 

With proper safety precautions in place, the Griffin family could finally learn and build a community together in 2021. Westminster also committed to becoming a fully vaccinated campus against COVID-19. With full FDA approval of a vaccine, immunization became required. Our community showed its care for others by honoring that commitment. Among the campus community, 94% are vaccinated against COVID-19. 

two female students on bikes with masks on

Connecting Again

two female students laughing on the grass

The epic road-trip class hit the pavement for a semester-long journey across the West. Eighteen people piled into a van and learned how to co-exist after over a year of isolation. They learned directly from landscapes, ecosystems, and people who live, work, and study across the American West.

Alumni Relations threw a big ‘ole party where we were able to revisit and dance together. Westminster’s signature reunion event was a huge success! Tickets sold out as alumni, professors, and current students reconnected over tailgates, dinner, and dancing in Richer Commons.

This year's Westminster Thinks Big discussed topics ranging from environmental leadership and the model minority myth to living according to your values, solving a mysterious illness with an accounting degree, and the Great Salt Lake.

Watch the recording

In March, community members and friends of Westminster came together on One Westminster Day to raise $230,568 across 1,291 donations (exceeding the college-wide goal), funding 11 projects that support scholarships, food justice, programming, and more.

New Traditions and Opportunities

President Dobkin broke with stereotypes to connect with students, staff, and faculty outside the confines of a college presidency. Every Wednesday during Fall Semester, she led a 7:00 a.m. cycle class. She told Inside Higher Ed, "Our students tell us that the Westminster education is characterized by things like breaking down stereotypes and getting out of your comfort zone, and I thought, well, this is a good way to model those things."

Westminster closes out 2021 with renewed light in our hearts and on campus. President Dobkin led a lighting ceremony of Converse Hall in early November, sparking a new tradition that symbolizes the joy and light of learning.

Westminster College’s newest academic facility is nearing completion on the north end of campus. Florence J. Gillmor Hall, located across from Foster Hall and the Meldrum Science Center, is a 26,000 square foot expansion of the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts. Gillmor Hall will allow Westminster to better serve its performing and visual arts students through state-of-the-art classroom, rehearsal, performance, and display spaces. The building will include a 93-seat recital hall, a costume studio, and an expanded scene shop. Construction of Gillmor Hall is expected to be completed in Spring 2022, with an anticipated grand opening in the fall.

group dancing in the commons at the block party