students at a campfire

During the 2017 Fall Semester, 14 students, two professors, and a program coordinator will load books, camping gear, and themselves into a couple of vans and hit the road for a semester-long tour of the American West.

The trip is designed as an exploration into the issues at the heart of the contemporary West. Students will earn 16 credits in environmental studies and history as they study Environmental Cooperation and Conflict, Landscape and Meaning, the History of Public Lands, and the Native West.

This prolonged journey into the field will allow us to learn directly from landscapes and ecosystems, as well as from people who live, work, and study in those places. Together, we expect to build a cohort of impassioned scholars with a particular breadth and depth of experiential knowledge who are equipped to build a better future for the West.

We will visit iconic, protected sites like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, contentious places like the Little Bighorn and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, working landscapes like the Butte Copper Mines, and communities from present-day Native nations to "New West" towns like Bend, Twisp, and Moab.

Meet the Expedition

Learn More About the Students and Faculty on the Expedition

Read the Latest Journal Entry

May 1, 2015

May 1, 2015

Greetings on the first day of May!

Student finals are concluding, and today is the last day of the semester. We say goodbye to the largest graduating class in our history: 991 will join the alumni ranks. We will miss these students but wish them well in their future endeavors and look forward to celebrating with them at Commencement on May 30.

As these students move on, the office of enrollment management is working to bring in the next freshman class. As you know from John Baworowsky's report earlier in the week, we are closing in on our freshman goal. Many thanks to John's entire team for their hard work and also to the faculty and staff across campus who are taking time out of their busy schedules to personally call and recruit our freshman prospects.

Last week we held a significant meeting and press conference with the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) to renew and sign our contract to educate the USSA athletes for an additional three years. We were honored that Mr. Spence Eccles could join us for this special ceremony. Mr. Eccles and his family have been devoted supporters of both Westminster College and USSA.

We are continuing the application process for admission into the NCAA for our athletic programs. Jane Meier, a review consultant representing the NCAA, was on campus last week to meet with me and key stakeholders to validate and audit our application. The visit went very well and we'll keep our fingers crossed that a favorable report will be forthcoming.

Earlier this week, I traveled to Colorado Springs with athletic administrators Shay Wyatt and Susan Heath to meet with the presidents of all 16 institutions in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). They are anxious for Westminster to join them once we are admitted to the NCAA. In fact, they have such confidence in our application; they have included all of our teams in their schedule this fall.

Do you remember 'Meathead' from All in the Family? Actor and director Rob Reiner himself will be on campus this weekend filming Being Charlie. You may even have a chance to be an extra in the movie! Please remember, the film shoot will close the Jewett lot beginning Friday, May 1 at 11 p.m., and the Foster and Converse Circle beginning Saturday, May 2 at 11 p.m.

The search for a new Vice President for Institutional Advancement is officially underway as we hosted this week our search consultants, Jim Langley and Amy Maher with Langley Innovations. Thank you in advance to Curtis Ryan and the rest of the search committee who will spend a considerable amount of time over the coming months to bring new leadership to our advancement area.

Last month, our financial team refinanced over $11 million of our long term debt with Zions Bank and Key Bank, saving nearly $100,000 a year in interest costs and over $1 million long term. I extend special thanks to Curtis Ryan, Syd Tervort, and Melissa Flores for the significant work that went into this refunding and to trustees Bill Orchow, Bing Fang, Tom Fey, Hank Hemingway, and Gretchen Anderson who served on the debt review committee.

The college has lost some key individuals in the area of diversity programs, the most recent being Lu Marzulli's departure this week to pursue an opportunity at the University of Utah. I want to reassure you that diversity and inclusion will be a critical area of attention for me and the senior leadership and trustees in the coming months. Just yesterday, the president's cabinet attended a diversity awareness seminar with Dr. Roderic Land and is working vigorously to address increased diversity training and awareness on campus. I will be working with the cabinet, faculty, and staff to strengthen our diversity plans and forge an enhanced path going forward.

And sadly this week also brought a tragic occurrence to our Westminster College community and the family of Professor Bill Ogilvie. Bill passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last weekend. He was a greatly admired professor of aviation and an incredible member of the community. We will be participating in services today and Saturday in remembrance of Bill. His family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Civil Air Patrol or the Bill Ogilvie Aviation Fund at Westminster College. Aviation fund gifts can be made online. Our hearts go out to Bill's family.

Best regards,

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Expedition in the News

Two people on a canoe
Group of Students around Campfire

The Route

Our proposed route is an enormous figure eight, heading northwest first (because of potential early winter weather) and including Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Course-related sites include sites of environmental/cultural conflict or cooperation (e.g., Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; East Tavaputs Plateau tar sands; Klamath River dams; the Berkeley Pit, the Nevada Test Site, Owens Lake); National Parks (e.g., Yellowstone, North Cascades, Olympic, Redwood, Grand Canyon, Great Basin); wilderness areas (e.g., Bob Marshall, Glacier Peak); Native nations and sites (e.g., Burns Paiute, Coast Salish, Miwok, the Nez Perce trail, Colville, Pyramid Lake, Hopi); dam sites (e.g., Teton, Grand Coulee, Hoover, Hetch Hetchy, Snake River); and relevant towns/cities (e.g., Bozeman, Bend, Cody, Moab, Winthrop, Page).

Expedition Route

Course Descriptions

Follow the Expedition's Progress