Converse Hall surrounded by green trees on a sunny day

Year in Review

 

2020 was an unprecedented year that requires care when reflecting on the many moments Westminster’s community shared. While most are ready to leave 2020 and its troubles behind, there are many triumphs to celebrate and lessons to carry with us into 2021.



A Pandemic Weathered

The coronavirus pandemic dramatically changed everyone’s lives in 2020. Many experienced loss and upheaval, and the crisis disproportionally impacted communities of color. It forced spring semester online, postponed commencement, canceled championship games, and threatened senior projects. But it also revealed where Westminster is at its strongest: a community of scholars dedicated to supporting one another in the pursuit of learning and growth both in and out of the classroom.

As the pandemic has and continues to change lives, Westminster nurses battle COVID-19 on the front lines. School of Education alumni adapt to bringing their classrooms to the virtual realm. Professors hold masked and socially distanced classes in creative spaces around campus while incorporating new technologies they have learned. Students persevere, showing great commitment and care in navigating campus COVID-19 safety rules. And, Westminster leadership and staff work tirelessly to adapt campus operations to keep the college open.

Through adversity, everyone has found new ways to connect and have gained new skills never imagined before 2020. Maybe you learned to bake sourdough, how to dance to Savage on TikTok, or how to raise your hand on Teams and Zoom. We enter 2021 with eyes on the light at the end of this tunnel, but also with the conviction that Westminster's community can persevere and adapt to however the times may change.

An Earthquake too, Really?!

A fallen tree on campus

Just as Westminster's campus was coming to grips with the realities and anxieties of a global pandemic, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit Salt Lake City on the morning of March 18, 2020. Residential students, shaken awake, evacuated their halls. Campus facility crews rushed to check utility lines and building damage. No one was hurt, but we were all rattled. Should we mention the hurricane force winds that toppled trees and knocked out power across campus in early September? Didn't think so.

Voices Raised

In 2020, Griffins stood up for others, advocated for justice, protested, and called out the atrocities of society. Whether it was leading community activism, declaring Black Lives Matter, encouraging voter registration, or calling out discriminatory policy—the Westminster community firmly stood up in 2020.

students marching in the street

Opinions Voiced

activist illustration by Amber Mott

Westminster professors do not shy away from saying it like it is. The year 2020 offered many reasons for our faculty to voice their opinions and share their valuable expertise in the editorial pages of the Salt Lake Tribune. From avoiding deadly avalanches and reimagining leadership to creating anti-racist policy, Westminster professors added an important perspective in a turbulent year.

Commitment to Anti-Racism

Social, civil, and racial unrest exacerbated by COVID-19 quickened Westminster’s commitment to begin the work needed to become an anti-racist institution. The college is taking great care to foster conversations and take necessary steps to make this a reality instead of a platitude.

In 2020, Westminster's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion continued educating the campus and community through engaging webinars and partnerships:

  • 2020 MLK Celebration: Westminster co-hosted a MLK Community Conversation with KRCL 90.9 FM from the Courage Theater; hosted a screening of the documentary film After Selma, which examined the history of voter suppression in the United States; and recognized the 2020 Unsung Hero recipients.
  • Panels and Conversations: Utah's female lawmakers of color celebrated policy progress and detailed threats, challenges, and triumphs of public office in the panel discussion “How to be a Bitch.” Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Tamara Stevenson also hosted “Teachable Moment Conversation: Social Unrest During a Global Pandemic” with faculty experts Heather Bachelor, education; Kara Barnette, philosophy; and Han Kim, public health.
  • Scholar Strike: Several staff and faculty members participated in a 2-day scholar strike public teach-in to draw attention to issues of police brutality, racism, and white supremacy in their respective administrative and instructional activities.
  • Equity in Mental Health on Campus Initiative: Westminster received a Utah COVID-19 Racial Equity and Inclusion Fund Grant and was selected to participate in The Steve Fund's Equity in Mental Health on Campus Initiative.
  • Expertise: Dr. Stevenson was tapped by multiple community agencies, including NBC, to guide conversations in social justice and anti-racism. She was recognized as a Utah Business magazine "30 Women to Watch" for her important work.

Campus Improvements

Dumke Field at night with lights on

Our cozy campus is pretty perfect as is, but 2020 brought a few significant improvements:

  • Dumke Field received new lights to the delight of student-athletes and coaches.
  • The college broke ground on Gillmor Hall, a 26,000 square foot, 3-floor expansion of the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts. A grand opening is expected for Fall 2021.
  • The dining area in Shaw got a much-needed makeover with fresh paint and easy-to-clean booths.
  • Off campus, Allen Park (Hobbitville) opened to the public after a nail-biting bid to purchase it by Salt Lake City.

Class of 2020

The Class of 2020 ended their undergraduate experience in quarantine instead of a tradition-filled ceremony surrounded by friends and family. While commencement was postponed, many found creative ways to celebrate graduates. There were billboard congratulations, elaborate chalk art recognitions, and an energetic drive-thru celebration on campus in September. President Dobkin handed out diplomas in front of Converse Hall while families cheered from their cars. The Class of 2020 joined Westminster alumni united in strength and resilience.

Learn About The Class Of 2020

student in cap and gown at outdoor commencement

Alumni and Donors

Westminster Weekend-ish

Westminster’s signature reunion event, Westminster Weekend, was reimagined this year as Westminster Weekend-ish, inviting alumni around from the country to join together virtually. With a 0.5k fun run, Classes Without Quizzes (taught by President Dobkin this year!), trivia, painting, and science projects, there was something for everyone.

One Westminster Day

One Westminster Day was one of the last hurrahs on campus in early March before the pandemic sent us all home. Alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the college came together to raise funds during Westminster's annual day of giving. An amazing 1,049 gifts were made (far surpassing the goal of 875), and more than $95,000 was raised to fund scholarships; athletics; the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and programs in the Honors College and the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business.

Westminster Thinks Big

Westminster Thinks Big also went virtual this year, bringing together alumni, faculty, and students for an evening of thought-provoking, TED-style presentations from Westminster alumni. Mai Ho ('12) spoke on "Casting a Vote for Women's Seats at the Table through the Power of Capital," Jamie MoCrazy ('19) showed how to "Create Your Own Luck," and Maxwell White ('20) provided a serious discussion of the least serious topic, "The Benefits of Satire in Society." These short talks inspired everyone to think big and prompted a lot of fun discussion during the Zoom after-party.

The Westminster Review Magazine

Read the special online issue of The Westminster Review alumni magazine to learn more about how campus and Westminster alumni have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic.