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

April 5, 2016

April 5, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

With the arrival of April each year come celebrations and farewells as the academic year comes to a close. The next few weeks are packed with activities ranging from the undergraduate research fair this Friday to concerts and plays to final athletic events. Please check out our Campus Events calendar for all these activities and more.

Personnel Changes

Last week, we said goodbye to Safia Keller, our director of corporate relations for nine years, and next week we'll bid farewell to Walter Kortkamp, who has led our Maintenance department for the last 21 years. I am sad to see them go, but I know they are moving on to exciting new opportunities.

We also have seven faculty members retiring this year, including:

  • Carolyn Connell, professor of Mathematics
  • Liz Herrick, assistant professor of Mathematics
  • Janet Dynak, professor of Education
  • Dave Dynak, professor & Sorenson Chair of Arts Administration
  • Joyce Sibbett, associate professor of Education
  • Carol Jeffers, associate professor of Nursing
  • Rob Nicholes, associate professor of Nursing

Each of these people has left their mark on Westminster and helped to make a Westminster education a truly unique and valuable experience. Thank you for your service, and we wish you the best in your future endeavors.

I also have an exciting announcement about someone new who will be joining our Westminster community! In May, Kathryn Pett Holmes will start as our new General Counsel. Kathryn brings over 30 years of legal experience to the position, and she has been doing great work for us already as our outside General Counsel for the past several months. Please join me in welcoming her to Westminster when you see her on campus.

ASW Elections

We also have a new group of student representatives who were recently elected to ASW positions. Our new student board includes:

  1. Ben Pok, President
  2. Andre Chen, Vice President
  3. Kent Johnson, Events President
  4. Warren Cook, Clubs President
  5. Bex Kemp, Chief Justice

We also have a new group of student senators, and I can't wait to see everything that this dedicated and involved group of student leaders will accomplish next year.

Learn more about each of the positions and the students who hold them

NAC&U Visit

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting with Nancy Hensel, the president of New American Colleges & Universities. During our time together, we spoke about the decade-long partnership between Westminster and NAC&U—topics related to the consortium, faculty workload, and civic engagement—and it was a pleasure to have her back on our campus.

Learn more about the consortium

Women's Ski Team

I love to take every opportunity to brag about our amazing student-athletes at Westminster, and this time I want to highlight our Women's Ski Team, who have podiumed in numerous slalom and giant slalom races at the collegiate level. At the US championships, there were 3 Westminster athletes in the top 6 for slalom. In the Giant Slalom, one of our racers Ann-Kathrin Breunig was faster than Mikaela Shiffrin (reigning world and Olympic champ) on her second run. Our student-athletes are some of the best ambassadors we have for Westminster worldwide, and I am so proud of their recent success on the slopes and in the classroom.

Women's Ski Team

Survey Reminder: Great Colleges to Work For

One final reminder that April 8th is the last day to take the "Great Colleges to Work For" survey that you received in your email. Our participation numbers look good so far, but I strongly encourage everyone who hasn't yet completed the survey to do so soon—the more information we collect, the better and more useful our results will be. At this point, with a few days left to take the survey, here's how our participation numbers look so far:

  • Faculty: 47%
  • Adjuncts: 23%
  • Staff: 60%

Let's see if we can get those numbers even higher in the next few days, and if you have any questions, email Rachel Spriggs at as soon as possible.

Finally, I want to end with another reminder (not the first, and certainly not the last) that Commencement is coming up in three short weeks: April 30th at 9:45am in the Maverick Center.

I wish you all a productive and enjoyable week.

All the best,

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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