Westminster Expedition Students in the Open American West

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 24, 2016

May 24, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

April showers bring May flowers and with them an opportunity to showcase our beautiful campus. This month we have already hosted 150 student leaders from 12 Utah colleges and universities for the Utah Leadership Academy, celebrated the Woman's Board 100th Anniversary of the Silver Tea with over 350 attending, and last Saturday started the Fall 2017 recruiting season with a campus preview that was attended by over 150 prospective students and their parents.

Westminster Preview Day

Planning Retreat and Year-End Assessment

With the regular academic year coming to a close, planning for next year is underway across campus. This month, the senior team, deans, and other campus leaders have participated in four retreats focused on institutional assessment, leadership building, and priority setting for the 2016–17 academic year. Most of our discussions concentrated on increasing enrollment and student retention, developing a sustainable business model, strengthening campus culture, and identifying initiatives that maximize core strengths. Summer is also a great time to complete year-end reports and celebrate all that was accomplished last year.

Planning Retreat

Enrollment Update

May Term enrollment is up four percent over last year with 858 students participating, but summer projected enrollments are trending behind last year. We are still running behind on first-year deposits and registrations for the upcoming Fall Semester. Currently, 451 first-year students have deposited and are in the process of registering for fall classes—our goal is 490 and last year our final count was 473. We still have good candidates in the admit pool and admissions and financial aid are working diligently to close the enrollment gap. I want to thank the deans, faculty, and staff that are making the extra effort to call and send emails to help with this recruitment.

Leadership Changes

With the announced departure of Vice President John Baworowsky at the end of June, I have asked Darlene Dilley, director of undergraduate admissions, to serve as the interim leader of the enrollment management division while a formal search in conducted. With this change I have also decided to move our student retention efforts, which are currently being led by Christie Fox, including the START Center and ADA, under the leadership of the provost.


Fundraising results have surpassed last year's totals and should reach $8 million by the end of June. Last week, vice president Staci Carson announced a $446,000 gift from the Betty and Edward Fingl Estate, which will endow two funds: the first for research grants to support nursing faculty and the second to support scholarships for Native American students. Congratulations to the Advancement team for their hard work and success this year.

100 Year Celebration

We have many volunteers that help support the college, but the Woman's Board has been doing it for over 100 years. Earlier this month they celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Silver Tea—their annual fundraiser for scholarships. They have raised almost $1 million from their events and they currently support 14 scholarships. My wife, Sandy, and daughter Amanda are members of the Woman's Board. I had the privilege of representing the college at the Silver Tea this year and expressed, on behalf of all of us, our congratulations on their centennial celebration and our profound thanks for their service and financial support.

Woman's Board

Final Thoughts

May and summer bring a welcomed rest for many of us that work at the college from the pace of the regular academic year. For others, it is the busiest time of the year when audits are completed, maintenance and repairs are done, and preparations for next year are underway. My hope is that each of you will find a few days to take off this summer to spend time with family and friends. I am grateful to each of you for the many things you do on a daily basis to help the college be successful.

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