Fall 2021 and Westminster at 150 Updates
As we move into our brief spring break, I’d like to provide you with some updates regarding fall planning and opportunities for involvement in strategic initiatives in the weeks and months ahead.
Last week, we asked faculty and staff about returning to in-person activities in Fall 2021. Over 90% of the respondents felt okay or better about resuming full, in-person operations, and there were many good suggestions about creating safe and successful experiences for all. We have begun to let current and prospective students know that if vaccine distribution continues and transmission rates keep dropping, we should be together on campus again in the fall. We will be preparing for robust, in-person experiences as we welcome students fully back to campus, including predominantly in-person classes, housing more students in the residence halls, hearing speakers and hosting campus activities, and supporting our students at games and performances. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue to encourage and support vaccinations for our entire campus community, and we’ll be soliciting input and providing additional information about considerations regarding remote work and instruction.
The past year has also taught us greater resourcefulness and adaptability. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of vaccines and potential disruption from COVID variants, provide COVID testing on campus, and require face coverings, if necessary, to help ensure the health and safety of our community and based on the same consultative processes we have used for the past year. We know how to be safe in our interactions, flexible in our use of technology, and vigilant in addressing public health challenges. Our online instructional possibilities now open new doors for some students who might not otherwise be able to attend classes, and our virtual event and meeting capabilities mean that some activities may continue indefinitely in online formats. Westminster’s success so far is a tribute to this community’s care for one another, and that success will continue.
Westminster at 150
Our preparations for the future go beyond the summer and next semester. For the past 18 months, staff and faculty from across the college have been working on a strategic prioritization effort we’ve called Westminster at 150. Our focus has been on identifying and amplifying distinctive features of the Westminster student experience which are most likely to generate enrollment growth through both new students and higher retention of existing ones. The resulting initiatives draw on the integration of liberal arts with graduate and professional education as ideal preparation for successfully navigating and positively impacting a diverse and changing world.
I’d like to invite you to the first in a series of community conversations regarding Westminster at 150 beginning March 18 at 3 p.m. We’ll dive into some of the ongoing planning to build a signature student experience and the campus synergies necessary for success.
Westminster at 150 has gone through several iterations over the past year based on the input of several working groups, campus-wide surveys, and feedback ranging from students to the Board of Trustees. We are now moving into the implementation phase of 4 strategic priorities: a signature student experience, integrated wellness, the power of place, and diversification of academic programs. Please remember that the document is not inclusive of all the wonderful activities and programs that comprise the Westminster student experience, or all the steps underway to realize its vision. Rather, Westminster at 150 stakes out directions and priorities emanating from our community and responsive to a post-pandemic, higher education landscape. The most recent version is available for you to view.
Finally, although I have been providing you with much of the information about these efforts so far, the work of Westminster at 150 belongs to all of us. Moving forward, you’ll hear less from me, and more from those faculty and staff who have contributed to the work thus far and are directly leading our implementation efforts. We have already made inspiring progress, and I look forward to seeing even more ways that Westminster at 150 can engage us all.
As we plan for Fall Semester, we will remain committed to a personalized and transformative educational experience that is both safe and abundant with in-person living and learning opportunities. Soon, it will be time to be together again. I look forward to seeing you on campus, at events, and in community.