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

November 17, 2016

December 8, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Winter arrived on our campus today, and while I don’t enjoy the cold temperatures, I do love the changing seasons and how beautiful the campus looks this time of year. It’s also a reminder that the holiday season is approaching and the fall semester is coming to a close. Much has been accomplished as we near the midpoint in our academic year, but a lot still needs to be done.

Converse in New Snow

All College Meeting

I was thrilled to see such a large turnout for the All College Meeting this week. The Gore Auditorium was packed. For those who missed it, I would encourage you to check out the advance reading materials that were emailed to you earlier this week.

At the meeting, I discussed the current year budget and the struggles we’re having with lower than expected fall enrollment and the contingency plan we’ve created to cover the predicted shortfall in revenue for this year. Provost Lisa Gentile reviewed our five-point plan to increase enrollment over the next few years and updated the campus community on the work of the Enrollment Steering Committee.

Many of you asked thoughtful questions during the meeting, and we’ve continued to receive questions over the last couple of days. I’d like to address a few of those now:

You said you are going to need help from everyone to help control the budget and reign in spending. What does that look like?

There are many simple ways to cut back on our spending across campus. Choose not to cater your next department meeting. Talk to IS before purchasing any new equipment or software subscriptions. Coordinate subscriptions and other purchases across departments to be eligible for discounted group rates. And continue to evaluate your department’s spending priorities and share your suggestions with your supervisor and members of the Planning and Priorities Committee.

What impact will the AACSB Accreditation of the School of Business have on the college?

We believe that this accreditation will help boost the reputation of the school and help create enrollment demand for our programs. The process has also improved the academic quality and standards for each of our business programs.

I heard you are planning to retire due to medical reasons, is that true?

I love being President of Westminster College and I have no plans to retire anytime soon. As to my health, I just ran the New York City Marathon and I feel great. I’m not going anywhere.

President Steve Morgan Completing the New York Marathon

Board Meeting

The Board of Trustees held their fall board meeting last week. They also participated in our Veteran’s Day Ceremony last Friday. During the meeting they approved The New Honors College and the DNP program.

Senior team presented updates on the strategic plan and institutional priorities, board goals, and enrollment/pricing strategies. The board ratified the recent sale of the Garfield School, outlined emerging opportunities for the Capital Campaign, and approved the refinancing of one of our bond issues.

Vice President of Enrollment Search and Enrollment Update

The national search for a VP of Enrollment is underway. The search committee has selected several candidates for a first round of interviews to take place in the next few weeks and finalists will be coming to Westminster for campus visits and interviews.

Excellent work is being done through the Enrollment Task Force led by Lisa Gentile, the Admissions team, and other campus leaders. Recruiting systems and messages are being overhauled and aligned with the branding, and many other process and system improvements have been put in place.

The Fall 2017 undergraduate recruiting cycle is accelerating, as is the recruitment of transfer and graduate students for a January 2017 start. Our initial student application pool is promising and the admissions team is in the midst of reviewing applications. I feel positive about the direction enrollment is taking and hope to begin seeing a stabilization of our enrollment numbers next year.

Final Thoughts

My favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving because it’s a time to reflect on the many things we are grateful for. I am thankful for Westminster and the role we play in transforming lives. While I was in New York, Sandy and I participated in a terrific alumni reunion, and it was just incredible so see so many of our students living meaningful lives.

President Steve Morgan with Westminster Alumni in New York

I wish each of you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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