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

April 7, 2017

April 11, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

This time of year is always special because we celebrate the accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff. From the undergraduate research fair, to concerts, plays, award ceremonies, farewells, and other year-end events, there are so many opportunities to reflect on the successes of our campus community. On Wednesday, April 12, Westminster will be 142 years old and we will celebrate our founding with food and a ceremony at noon in the Richer Commons. Wear purple that day and join us.

Admitted Student Day

We had a great turnout at this year’s Admitted Student Day. 127 prospective students and their families attended. By the end of the weekend, we received 28 deposits and continue to get phone calls regarding the event. I want to thank the Admissions team and the many faculty and staff who participated in this important enrollment event. It takes an entire campus to recruit our students.

Students Gathered in Benkhen Filed House for Admitted Student Day

All College Meeting Presentation

At the All College Meeting last month I provided an in-depth look at the state of the college, including information about enrollment and the budget. For those of you who were unable to attend the meeting, we have posted the slides from the presentation. I encourage you to review materials as they include important information about the college’s plans and priorities moving forward.

Benefit Updates

Open Enrollment

Beginning next week, the Human Resources department will hold our open enrollment period for our various health plans. As I mentioned at the All College meeting, the college opted to cover a 3.5% increase in our medical premiums for the 2017–2018 year, allowing us to provide for no increase to your deductibles, co-pays, and employee premiums. In order to renew our plan at this rate, the "out of pocket maximum" was increased.

The employee premiums for the current dental plan will increase between $10–$15 per month, depending upon the plan you are enrolled in, however we have added an additional, less expensive option for dental coverage that you may select during open enrollment.

The college has budgeted an average of $10,755 per employee for health and dental coverage next year. We considered these changes carefully in consultation with the Planning and Priorities committee. Our goal is to balance the needs and interests of our employees with making sound long-term financial decisions for the college.

For additional information, please attend one of the upcoming open enrollment information sessions.

Tuition Remission

In relation to the tuition increase for the 2017–18 academic year, there will be a modest increase in the per-credit hour fee for tuition remission. Effective Fall 2017, the fee will be $40 per credit hour.

Save the Date: Last Day of School BBQ

The Senior Team will be hosting a BBQ on the last day of school to say thank you for all of your hard work this year. We hope you’ll join us on May 5 at noon in the Commons to celebrate another successful school year.

Final Thoughts

As Commencement approaches in a few weeks, I find myself wishing we had another year with many of our students. The time they spend at Westminster is brief, but the changes that occur from when they arrive to when they graduate are extraordinary, and many of them go on to promising careers and additional education. Saying goodbye to colleagues who are retiring or moving on to other opportunities is also difficult, but we appreciate and celebrate what they accomplished at Westminster. The one consolation to all of this is that new students and colleagues will be joining us in several months, bringing new perspectives and ideas that will enrich our community. I thank each of you for the work you do to make a difference.

Kind regards,

View All Journal Entries →

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