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

June 9, 2016

June 9, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Summer has definitely arrived! May Term trips are all back safe and sound, and summer semester has begun. The campus is filled with younger students attending one of our many summer camps, our staff is busy wrapping up year-end reports, and everyone is working hard to bring in next year's class. Certainly the saying "lazy days of summer" doesn't apply to those who work at Westminster.

Enrollment Update

In this week's enrollment update, we announced that our enrollment numbers for the upcoming Fall Semester are still running behind. While we continue to bring in deposits daily, we are still 22 students short from reaching our first-year student enrollment goal of 490. Transfer student deposits and registrations are also running behind, but typically come in during the last few months of summer. We also need additional enrollment in several of our graduate programs. Our retention rates look encouraging, but we still need to stay focused on returning every student we can to achieve our total enrollment goals. Our admissions, financial aid, and START Center staff will continue to aggressively recruit new students over the summer to close the enrollment gap, but in the event that we are unable to do so, I have begun working with the senior team to develop a contingency plan that will help offset any potential shortfall in net tuition revenues.

We are evaluating a number of budget items for potential deferral, however any future budgetary alterations will not affect the funding of the staff compensation plan that was announced this week.

Staff Retreat

I'm happy to announce that Standard and Poor's reaffirmed our 'BBB' credit rating for another year. This rating is required by our bond holders and assesses the college's overall financial strength. While they expressed concern about declining enrollment over the last few years and the need for the college to stabilize enrollment, they felt the college had been proactive in adjusting its budget to respond to lower net revenues. Maintaining our investment rating during this challenging period has been crucial to future success.

S&P Rating Reaffirmed

I'm happy to announce that Standard and Poor's reaffirmed our 'BBB' credit rating for another year. This rating is required by our bond holders and assesses the college's overall financial strength. While they expressed concern about declining enrollment over the last few years and the need for the college to stabilize enrollment, they felt the college had been proactive in adjusting its budget to respond to lower net revenues. Maintaining our investment rating during this challenging period has been crucial to future success.

Utah Pride Festival

I am so proud of the Westminster students, faculty, staff, and alumni who attended the Utah Pride Festival last weekend to support Utah's LGBTQ community.

Utah Pride Festival

College-Owned Houses Rezoned

After a long process, we received city approval this week to rezone five of the college-owned houses on 1300 East. The rezoning will allow the college to use the homes for institutional purposes, rather than being limited to residential use. The homes will continue to be used for student housing in 2016-2017 while we consider the many suggestions that have been offered for their use, including the securing of funds for their conversion and renovation. Thanks to Curtis Ryan and Annalisa Holcombe for leading this effort!

Curtis Ryan and Annalisa Holcombe

Fundraising Update

Last week I attended our Annual Benefit Golf Tournament where we grossed $52,800. The proceeds will be used to support the Student-Athlete Scholarship Fund. It was terrific to have some of our student athletes join us for the day.

Annual Benefit Golf Tournament

Final Thoughts

While the current news on enrollment is disappointing, I am encouraged by the efforts of so many to turn it positive. I believe we are still the best-kept secret in higher education and our challenge is to get the word out and get more prospective students on our campus. It takes all of us to carry that message.

All the best,
Steve

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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