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

September 15, 2015

September 15, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

College News

One of our core values at Westminster is college-wide excellence. I see examples of this every day but one especially powerful example came last week in our recent US News & World Report rankings. Westminster ranked in the top 20 for Best Universities in the West, Best Value School, A+ School for B Students, and Best Colleges for Veterans in the West.

We have been on the first three lists for a number of years, but the Veterans ranking is new and especially noteworthy, given the opening of our new Center for Veteran and Military Services on September 11, 2015. It was an appropriate day to honor the men and women who have served our country and to celebrate those who came together to make the Center a reality. It is our hope that this will not only be a place our veterans will call home, but also a place where all of our students come to learn about what it's like to defend our country and hear their stories of sacrifice. I especially thank Board of Trustees members Kim T. Adamson and O. Wood Moyle of the R. Harold Burton Foundation for their generous support and leadership in making this center possible. If you missed the opening, take a minute to stop by Walker Hall and see this fantastic space.

Veteran's Center Ribbon Cutting

The Board of Trustees Retreat also took place last week, and our focus was on how we can best prepare for the near and long-term future of Westminster. Many experts were in attendance: Amit Mrig, founder and CEO of Academic Impressions; George Kuh, national expert in student engagement; Dr. Ann Millner, State of Utah legislator and former president of Weber State University, and Pam Perlich, director of demographic research at the University of Utah.

We learned from the reports and discussions that the demography of our country and our state is changing rapidly. This will impact our recruitment and retention processes and creates the need to be laser-focused on our mission and differentiation. Accordingly, this year's Board goals focus on sustainability, affordability, and value.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet our many of our student leaders at their Annual Student Leadership Retreat to discuss ways we might better meet their needs. The way we communicate with students is a high priority for them, and I committed to look for solutions that would reduce the number of emails they receive and consolidate our messaging to be more effective.

Provost Lisa Gentile and I began this week meeting with the Diversity Council to discuss how to continue the development of our campus diversity and inclusion plan. Several plans have been developed in the past, the most recent being in 2012. We agreed that we would build upon the good efforts of those who have worked on the previous plans and concentrate on implementation, rather than more planning. I will share more about the plan at the All College Meeting on October 8.

Finally, this week, a series of open forums will be held to discuss our campus culture and ways we might improve it. If you haven't had a chance to sign up yet, I encourage you to get involved in this important initiative by contacting Dr. Michael Pacanowsky.

Campus Invitations

This week, on Friday and Saturday (Sept. 18th&19th), the Second Annual Title IX Symposium Not Alone will be held here on campus. I applaud Melissa Flores, general counsel, and the Title IX Symposium Committee for their work addressing this important issue. Partners in this forum include the other higher education institutions in the state and many local organizations. I am proud that we have taken a leadership role in addressing sexual assault, dating, and domestic violence. Register at:

Not Alone Symposium 2015

Then, on Saturday, Sept. 26th, join us for Reunion and Inauguration! If you haven't already responded, I personally invite and encourage you to attend. This is a day for families and friends of the college. I am excited for the events of the day and believe it will be a joyous occasion to celebrate the spirit of Westminster.

RSVP for the activities of Reunion and Inauguration Weekend at:

Inauguration 2015

Thank you for your ongoing work. I hope you all enjoy these first few days of autumn weather.

All the best,

View All Journal Entries →

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