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.
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
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.
Westminster faculty and staff do not shy away from saying it like it is or sharing their valuable expertise. Westminster made national headlines throughout the year, with community experts providing information on topics that ranged from drought and COVID-19 to Mars and beyond.
- “National Media Tap Westminster Scientists as Drought Grips the West"
- "Westminster COVID-19 Expert Provides Perspective to Media"
- "NASA’s Search for Life on Mars Underway with Help from Great Salt Lake on Earth"
- "Don’t be too quick to ‘get this ugly day behind us’"
- "Playing hooky from school can be a good thing"
- "President Dobkin Statement on Chauvin Verdicts
- "President Dobkin Speaks at Utah Women in Higher Education Network Conference"
- "Investing 101"
- "Ask an Expert: Mindful Eating"
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)
- "Westminster in Top Third of Colleges Nationwide in Wall Street Journal Rankings"
- "U.S. News Ranks Westminster a Best College for Nursing, Veterans, and Undergraduate Teaching"
- "Westminster Among America’s Top 14 Percent of Colleges, a Top Green College, and Best in the West"
- "Three Westminster Students Recognized as Emerging Leaders in Utah"
- "Biology Students Contribute to Water Exhibition at Utah Museum of Fine Arts"
- "Daud Mumin Named a Truman Scholar Awardee"
- "Three Westminster Alums Receive Scholarships for Innovate Medical School Program"
- "Westminster Alum's Opportunity for Cultural Exchange as a Fulbright"
- "Real Life Power Couple"
- "Westminster Alum Turned Fulbright Winner Pursues an Opportunity Abroad"
- "The Mission of an MACL Grad: Transitioning Adults with Autism to Independent Living"
- "Westminster Alums Among 2021 CXO of the Year Honorees"
- "From Opera to Folk: Westminster Alum Releases Debut Album"
- "Selling Salt Lake"
- "Westminster alums awarded National Science Foundation fellowships"
- "National Teacher of the Year"
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.