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

September 16, 2016

September 16, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

This weekend we will welcome over 200 alumni and friends back to campus for Westminster Weekend. They will have an opportunity to see the many changes on campus, and participate in more than two dozen activities including the grand opening of the Coaching and Mentoring Center, Classes Without Quizzes, and Westminster Thinks Big. Please check out the many activities we have lined up and stop by and say hello if you can.

Westminster Weekend

Rankings and Recognition

I’m excited to announce that Westminster is included in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 “Best College” guide. The college continues to be ranked as a “Best Regional University – West,” “Great Schools, Great Prices,” “Best Schools for Vets,” and “A+ Schools for B Students.”

Westminster was also included in the Princeton Review’s annual guide, “The Best 381 Colleges” for 2017.

Enrollment Update

While our final Fall enrollment statistics and net tuition revenues won’t be finalized until the end of this month, I want to report where we are this week in terms of enrolled credit hours, which is what really drives our budget.

Our undergraduate enrolled credit hours are down by 2.3% from last year and 1.6% from what was planned for in our budget. Graduate hours are more disappointing, down 20% from last year and 12.6% from our budget. While our new student counts for both undergraduate and graduate fell short of our expectations, our undergraduate returning student numbers look good with over 80% re-enrolling, which surpassed our budget expectations helping to offset some of the decrease.

We budgeted net tuition for Fall to be $23.4 million and instead will most likely be closer to $22.4 million. As I’ve mentioned in the Post previously, we began implementing a contingency plan in July by deferring a number of items we had planned to do this year. In my speech at the President’s Breakfast in August, I outlined a plan on how we can increase our enrollment for next year and the years to come. Please continue to work within your department to evaluate priorities, and encourage your department leaders to share your thoughts and recommendations with the Planning and Priorities Committee.

I will provide an update on our enrollment and contingency plan at the All College Meeting on October 11 from 3—5 p.m. and will continue to send updates throughout the year.

Search for the Vice President of Enrollment

The search committee for the Vice President of Enrollment started their work earlier this month. The job listing is now available online.

This is a critical position at the college, affecting our overall enrollment and resources, and having significant supervisory and leadership responsibility. The search committee will work throughout the Fall semester with the intent of bringing candidates for the final on-campus interviews in November. Hopefully, our candidate will begin in January 2017.

Members of the search committee were selected based off their ability to provide knowledge and expertise in a variety of areas from across campus. We’ve engaged Keeling and Associates to be our search consultants. Sheila Yorkin will chair the search committee, with support from Leslie Freeman and Julie Freestone. I will continue to send updates throughout the search process.

Search Committee Members

  • Robert Allred, CIO
  • Tom Ellison, Trustee
  • Melissa Koerner, Dean of the Gore School of Business
  • David Luhr, Senior Web Designer
  • Jennifer Ritter, Associate Professor of English
  • Charlotte Tullos, Trustee
  • Carissa Uresk, Student
  • Maren Lythgoe, Director of Admissions Operations

Board Retreat and New Trustees

Last week the Board of Trustees and the Senior Team met for a two-day retreat at The Draw to have in-depth discussions about our enrollment challenges and the board’s goals for 2016-17. This year, the board’s goals are the same as our Institutional Goals that were outlined in my speech at the President’s Breakfast last month.

On Thursday, our trustees and their spouses had breakfast on campus with the Deans before attending classes. They sat in on a variety of classes including, mineralogy, statistics, accounting, and Honors humanities. At noon they had the chance to get to know our students first-hand over lunch in Shaw with a group of student leaders.

We also welcomed three new trustees during the retreat: Rex Falkenrath, entrepreneur and former managing director of the Miller Business Innovation Center at Salt Lake Community College; Ryan Hessenthaler, Chief Operating Officer of Lunt Capital management, Inc.; and Charlotte Tullos, associate vice chancellor of enrollment management at Louisiana State University.

Tipping Point

I am always so proud of our students who devote their time to creating clubs and organizations that advocate for social causes. Some of these students have done incredible work to help causes from feeding the homeless to raising awareness of human trafficking. Next week, Tiffany Perry and the Tipping Point student group will be hosting Start by Believing week that aims to change the way people respond to sexual assault in the community. I encourage you to check out some of their events.

Final Thoughts

Last Saturday I attended the women’s volleyball game against Fort Hayes State. I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me, who I learned was an alum from the class of 1976. I asked if he knew someone on the team. He said he didn’t—he just likes to come back to the campus when he can. He went on to tell me about his own experience as a Westminster student-athlete, sharing a bit about the faculty and coaches that influenced his career, many of whom are still his mentors today. “I feel at home when I’m on campus,” he said. “Being around the students reminds me of a wonderful time in my life.”

I share this story to remind you all of the impact we have. While we have challenges to overcome, we must always remember the proud tradition and strength of this college.

Kind regards,

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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