Since my last post, Sandy and I were fortunate enough to take some vacation time to visit Israel .This trip was like no other we have experienced. It was a truly eye-opening visit to a part of the world with immense historical and religious significance. I was struck by how complicated the region really is and how difficult resolution to the political unrest in that area will be. It provided great perspective and rejuvenation for my work here at the college. I am glad to be back home and enthusiastic about jumping back into the many exciting opportunities and work of the college.
On nearly all fronts enrollment looks promising. We have exceeded our freshman goal by ten freshmen and our transfer and graduate numbers look solid. I want to again thank John and the admissions team as well as all faculty and staff for their hard work to recruit and retain our students.
Earlier this week I had a great meeting with President David Pershing of the University of Utah. We discussed higher education issues in Utah and ways we can collaborate as institutions. I plan to continue these meetings with presidents of the all the universities along the Wasatch Front over coming months with the hope of finding ways to work together on a range of opportunities.
A question was recently posed to me recently about the future of the Garfield School and whether it is still a key project in the capital campaign. Over the last several years we have worked on various concepts for the building, with the latest being a Center for Innovation, Creativity, and Engagement. When conceptual drawings and a proposed $28 million project budget were presented to the board of trustees last November, they felt it had grown too large in scale relative to cost, enrollment and institutional impact and sent us back to the drawing board for new ideas that might better align with current donor interests and priorities of the college. Many good ideas were included in the original project, and a number of faculty and staff worked hard in developing them, so they will be considered as new discussions unfold in the fall to determine how best to use this valuable and strategic asset. We haven't given up on the Garfield School.
In the meantime, a number of other campus projects are underway, and the maintenance staff have been busy. Among them are the renovation of the 3rd floor of Carlson Hall, creation of a new neuroscience lab in Meldrum, the new Veterans Center in Walker Hall, and a number of painting and refurbishing projects. Richard Brockmyer and his team and Robert Allred and the IS staff get very little rest during the summer to ready the campus for the start of school.
My senior staff and I have been busy finalizing institutional goals and priorities for next year and look forward to sharing those with you at the upcoming faculty retreat and All College Breakfast on August 17-18. This week, in particular, we have been focusing on ideas to improve faculty advising and student retention. A number of reports were produced last year by both internal and external groups that have been guiding our plans.
With the new fiscal year beginning on July 1, departments are busy wrapping up yearend reports, completing evaluations, and developing plans for the new academic year. There are several staff positions open around campus in a variety of areas. I encourage you to apply for positions that may interest you and to alert qualified professionals you may know personally who would make a positive impact on the Westminster community. This is an exciting time for the college. We need enthusiastic and talented individuals to join our ranks and be part of our campus community.
While I was away, we received notice that we will be listed by Colleges of Distinction as their only institution in Utah. This organization produces an annual guide book that identifies colleges and universities in the US that are the best places to learn, grow, and succeed. We were recognized in four areas: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community, and successful outcomes. I believe these categories are indeed where we excel at and are core to the Westminster College experience.
There are many dates to put on your calendar in the coming months: Convocation on August 15, the Scholarship Gala on August 27, the opening of the Veterans Center on September 11, the second annual Title IX Symposium on September 17 and 18, and Inauguration on September 26 as part of Reunion Weekend. In anticipation of Inauguration, we are sending a save-the-date notice to the Westminster College community. I am also working on a first communication to donors and planning a schedule of communications to keep donors and alumni up to speed on the mission and goals of the college.
I hope you are having a great summer and have been able to take some time to enjoy a trip, visit with family and friends, or just get out and enjoy the wonders of Utah.
Thanks for all you do to help Westminster be successful.
All the best,