There is so much happening on campus these days, from lectures and poetry readings to athletic events and theatre performances. Last week, I had the opportunity to be a judge at one of my favorite campus events—Mx. Westminster. Twelve students participated for the recognition and this year’s winner is Nathanial Woolley, who won the contest with an amazing performance, singing both the soprano and tenor parts of “Think of Me” from the Phantom of the Opera.
Safe Haven Update
Last week I participated in a student forum hosted by Associated Students of Westminster (ASW) to provide an update on the college’s support of undocumented, refugee, international, and DACA-status students. As I outlined in my campus-wide announcement last week, we are keeping a close eye on announcements from the White House and developing plans to best support the members of our community who may be affected. The nature of this rapidly changing political climate means that many of the potential effects are still unknown, and colleges and universities around the country are working diligently to figure out what this means for higher education.
We will continue to provide information to the campus community as we hear more, and will update the list of resources available to our community online as programs develop.
This will be an ongoing effort. If you have feedback or ideas, please reach out to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion or the Office of Global Engagement, and encourage your students to do the same. Westminster has a history of coming together in support of our community and we need to continue that tradition now more than ever.
Institutional Priorities Report Card
As I mentioned in the last Post, I asked the senior team to provide me with an update on the progress we’ve made toward this year’s three institutional priorities. I’m happy to report that we’ve made great progress on all three goals so far this year. Several highlights are outlined below.
Build a Community of Learners
With leadership from AVP for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Marco Barker, and many other campus leaders, we have started to develop and implement a college-wide diversity and inclusion plan. Many of our current efforts have focused on creating a safe haven during a changing national political climate, looking for ways to support all members of our community during these unprecedented times.
Innovate to Support Student Success
There has been a lot of exciting progress made toward our second goal. Some of the highlights include launching WCore last fall, approving the new Honors College, moving forward with new programs in sports management and outdoor education leadership, and redefining the role of e-portfolios.
Assure Affordability and Sustainability
Over the course of the last few months, many enrollment processes and system improvements have been put in place, helping to create more efficient and effective admissions and enrollment strategies. We have also started looking at alternative business models for the college, which are still in an early exploration phase. The comprehensive campaign has also been a huge focus this year. Since the campaign started in 2014, the college has raised $20.7 million. We are hoping to pick up even more momentum after presenting the campaign feasibility study to the board of trustees next week.
Redefined Roles for Two Senior Administrators
In order to better support Westminster’s strategic initiatives, I have redefined the roles of two senior team members. Kathryn Holmes has been serving as General Counsel and will now also serve as Chief Risk Officer. As Chief Risk Officer, Kathryn will be able to establish more effective and cohesive planning for everything related to college safety, security, and risk management. Campus Patrol, Safety, and Risk Management, as well as Environmental Health and Safety, will now report to Kathryn.
Coinciding with these changes, we welcomed our new Director of Campus Patrol, Tony Russel, who officially started last week. Tony comes to Westminster after more than two decades of service with the Salt Lake Police Department.
Annalisa Holcombe will take on the role of Chief Strategy Officer, working closely with me on strategic plan implementation, shepherding short and long-term strategic projects, and representing me in external and internal meetings and events when I am unable to attend. She will continue her oversight of community relations and provide support to the board of trustees.
Human Resources Update/Retirement Plan
Human Resources has been coordinating an administrative review of the our retirement plan, including plan fees, provider services, and investment options. This review was initially prompted by a request from the Faculty Senate to include more environmentally friendly investment options. An independent advisor has been retained to assist in the review and will make recommendations to the retirement plan fiduciary committee (Curtis Ryan, Lisa Gentile, and Julie Freestone). This review will not affect the college’s contribution levels to the retirement plan.
The review process will be completed by the end of the semester. HR will schedule information sessions before implementing any changes, to share information on the review process, and invite feedback on proposed changes.
All College Meeting
Please mark your calendar for the next All College Meeting, which will take place on Thursday, March 9 in the Gore Auditorium from 3–5:00 p.m.
Whether you’re a football fan or not, Super Bowl weekend has always been a fun time to spend with family and friends. This year I found myself surrounded by grandchildren who were all cheering for the New England Patriots. I told them I prefer cheering for the Westminster Griffins.
Speaking of the Griffins, I hope you’ll join me in cheering our basketball teams on this Friday, February 10. ASW is hosting a tailgate before the games at 5 pm. The women’s team will play against CSU-Pueblo at 5:30, followed by the men’s game against New Mexico Highlands at 7:30.