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

July 21, 2016

July 21, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

I can't believe how quickly summer is going; the first day of class is just around the corner and as we prepare for another year there are several important updates I want to share with you.

Enrollment Update

We currently have 476 new first-year students who have submitted deposits toward our budget target of 490. Based on melt data from the past seven years, we are projecting to have 474 new first-year students this fall. Last year we had 472 new first-year students.

We also have 117 new transfer students who have submitted deposits toward our goal of 170. This number is a bit misleading as we tend to attract transfer students right up until the time classes start. Based on our trends over the past four years and the applications currently in process, we are projecting to have 130-140 new transfer students this fall.Last year we had 150 transfer students enrolled for fall.

Graduate students at Westminster also tend to enroll late in the summer. At this point, MPC, MSN, MSNA, and MSMHC have met their budgeted enrollment targets. Based on applications currently in process, it looks like MBATC, PMBA, MACC, MSC, MED, MACL, and MPH will also reach their fall targets.

While we don't expect to meet all of our enrollment goals for this year, the first-year discount rate is tracking slightly below what was budgeted, meaning that we may still hit our revenue target. Our first-year retention rate also looks good, staying around 80%.

We expect the number of incoming students to continue to grow throughout the summer and I remain optimistic. However, in the event that we don't meet our goals, we have identified about $2M in savings out of our $65M budget that we can use if needed. Areas identified for potential cost-saving include revenues identified since the budget was balanced, reductions in debt service, savings in health and dental insurance, and one-time offsets from restricted accounts. Lay-offs will not be part of our savings plan. Currently, the only cost-saving measures we have put in effect are to carefully evaluate all open positions before hiring, and all non-essential institutional memberships before renewing. I will continue to provide updates on our enrollment status and inform you of any plans to put additional cost-saving measures in place.

To address our struggles with enrollment looking forward, we are working in five different areas: academic programs, college rebranding, strategic investments, institutional focus, and the comprehensive campaign. I've been working with the senior team to develop specific plans for each of these areas, which I will present at the welcome back breakfast on August 22.

I know reaching our enrollment goals won't happen overnight and I am so appreciative of everything the campus community is doing to get ready for this fall and prepare for the future. I encourage you to reach out to me or any member of the senior team with questions or feedback.

Recruiting and Enrollment Consultants

Last week we engaged the firm of Keeling & Associates, a higher education consulting firm, to help conduct the search for the new vice president of enrollment. Dr. Jan Walbert, senior consultant for executive search with K&A, will be the lead consultant on the search and plans to visit campus in August to see our operations first-hand.

I've asked Sheila Yorkin, executive director of integrated marketing and communications, to lead the search committee. In consultation with me and the senior team, she is in the process of selecting a small group of faculty, staff, and trustees to serve on the search committee and bring a qualified group of candidates to campus early this fall. I want to make sure everyone on campus has an opportunity to meet the final candidates and participate in the search process, and will keep you updated as we progress.

We've also engaged the Cicero Group, a strategy consulting and research firm, to review and assess our current recruiting, admissions, and enrollment functions to identify strengths, weaknesses, and strategies to improve our overall enrollment results. This will help the search committee identify the best candidate to lead us through the needed changes.

Branding Update

Earlier this month you received a branding update from the Office of Marketing & Communications. As you read, the college has been working with Struck, a creative agency, for the last year to refine and strengthen Westminster's brand.

In that time, Struck conducted thorough research of the college and has identified challenges, opportunities, what motivates our audiences, and what we can offer to fulfill those motivations. In the next few months, Struck will present the college with logo designs and develop guidelines for all visual elements including photography, color palette, and fonts.

The new brand will be introduced to the college community this fall. There will be many opportunities for you to participate in trainings and workshops, and many of you will also be asked to help develop a customized brand toolkit for your department. You will also have the chance to become familiar with the new brand at a campus-wide event later this fall before we launch the brand publicly in January.

I'm happy to hear how involved many members of campus have been throughout this process and hope you will all continue to share your feedback. I strongly encourage you all to get involved in the re-branding. A unified message and strong brand is crucial to Westminster's future, and the success of the brand moving forward depends on each of us.

NCAA Division II

I'm excited to announce that our athletic program reached another milestone in its transition to full NCAA Division II membership. Yesterday, the NCAA II Management Council approved the advancement of our athletic teams to year two of the three-year membership process. This is a great accomplishment and I feel confident that our advancement to full NCAA II status will help our athletic programs and become a point of pride for the college.

2016–2017 College of Distinction

Westminster has been recognized as a 2016-17 College of Distinction for our commitment to great teaching, a vibrant community, engaged students, and successful outcomes. This award is well-deserved thanks to the hard work and dedication of everyone on campus.

Final Thoughts

In just four weeks we will welcome all of our students back to campus and so much remains to be done to get ready. I wish each of you a fun and enjoyable holiday this Monday as we celebrate Pioneer Day.

Kind regards,
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