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

February 24, 2016

February 24, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

In the last presidential post, I focused on our amazing students we have here at Westminster. Now, I want to boast about our talented and dedicated staff and faculty. One of my favorite occasions of the year is the Employee Appreciation Celebration, which will be this Friday at 3:00 p.m., in the Vieve Gore Concert Hall. We will be honoring 53 employees who have reached years-of-service milestones, including 17 staff & faculty who have been with Westminster for over 20 years. We will also be awarding several community awards. All administrative offices will close early on Friday at 3:00 p.m., so as many as possible can attend. Please RSVP to if you haven't already. Don't miss this fun event!

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees met last Thursday and Friday, and they had a very full agenda. Some of their key discussions and decisions were:


They approved the 2016–2017 Budget, which you'll hear more about at the All College Meeting on March 17.

New Academic Programs

The redesign of the English and undergraduate business majors were approved. New minors in data science, entrepreneurship, and the education studies major were also approved.

Honorary Degrees

Four people—Commencement speaker Charlayne Hunter-Gault as well as James Lee, Jim Clark, and Bob Graham—were approved to receive honorary degrees at this year's Commencement exercises on April 30.

Gift from the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation

The Board voted to accept a very generous new gift to the college: $3.6 million from the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation that will go toward the construction of the new Florence J. Gillmor School of Music, a new building extension to the current Jewett Center for the Performing Arts. This is the lead gift towards a $10 million project that will benefit all of our visual and performing arts programs, and I couldn't be more thrilled to announce the start of this exciting project. Here are a few preliminary renderings of the exterior of the building as well as a conceptual drawing of the dance and music studio that will be on the ground level.

Florence J Gilmor School of Music Render

Florence J Gilmor School of Music and Dance Interior Render

Faculty Promotions

The Board also approved faculty promotions for next year. Congratulations to Matt Baker, Jared Larkin, Jonathan Amburgey, Frank Black, Russ Costa, Brent Olson, Jennifer Harrison, and Michael Mamo on promotion from assistant to associate professor—and also to Marilee Coles-Ritchie on promotion from associate to full professor.


While efforts related to a formal diversity and inclusion statement/plan are still in the discussion and development phase, the Board committed itself to supporting the college's ongoing work in these areas. Please continue to check the diversity and inclusion webpage for ongoing updates. That page now links from the front page of the college website.

Adjunct Faculty Week

Last year, we used the last week of February to spotlight our adjunct faculty members and I would like to continue that tradition this year. Hikmet Loe, adjunct faculty coordinator, has provided some data about our adjunct faculty and the important work they contribute to the Westminster community, and I want to share it with all of you. I hope you'll take a look at the profile below and take a moment to recognize our fantastic adjunct faculty members.

Adjunct Faculty Awareness Week


$40K in a Day Campaign

Last week, we accomplished something incredible: 353 faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of Westminster raised $45,785 for The Westminster Fund in a 24-hour period. These funds will be used to support scholarships, and various other academic and co-curricular activities for our students. I am so proud of the way we all pulled together to meet this challenge!

40k in a Day

As we move quickly toward the second half of the semester, I invite all of you to find an extra minute in your busy schedules to enjoy this great community we are all part of at Westminster. I feel privileged to work alongside such an interesting, motivated, and inspiring group of people every day. Thank you for all you do.

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