Westminster College President to Retire, Effective July 2012
President Michael Bassis led Westminster through amazing period of growth and transformation
SALT LAKE CITY – Westminster College announced today that President Michael S. Bassis will retire at the conclusion of this academic year, July 2012. Bassis has served as the college’s president since July 2002. Under his leadership, the college achieved record enrollments and reached new heights of national recognition.
The college’s Board of Trustees will begin a national search for Bassis’ replacement whom they expect will be in place by summer, 2012.
Chairman of Westminster’s Board of Trustees, Bob Frankenberg, had this to say about Bassis’ achievements at the college: “When we hired Michael, we asked him to take the institution to the next level, but we weren’t sure exactly what that looked like, or how to get there. Now, nearly a decade later, the quality, vitality and reputation of the college has skyrocketed. Michael has been a magnificent visionary and leader, and will be greatly missed.”
When Bassis joined the college in 2002, he launched a campus-wide, year-long strategic planning process that set the direction for the last decade. Key tenets of the plan that have been successfully implemented include the following:
· A laser-like focus on student learning, with particular attention to college-wide learning goals
· An emphasis on programs that are distinctive in their emphasis on active, experiential, collaborative and cross-disciplinary learning
· A commitment to continuous improvement, effectiveness and value
“My time at Westminster has been a highlight of my 40-year career in higher education,” said Bassis. “The faculty and staff have been amazing, embracing innovation and change, and pioneering new approaches to student learning. They deserve enormous credit for transforming the college into one of the best schools of its kind in the country. With significant elements of our strategic plan in place, I feel that this is an appropriate time to turn the reigns over to new leadership.”
Perhaps Bassis’ most profound impact on the campus has been his vision with regard to student learning. He led a paradigm shift that puts student learning— rather than faculty teaching—at the core of the educational experience. As a key element in this shift, all students are required to put together electronic portfolios to demonstrate that they have met a series of college-wide learning goals prior to graduation, a requirement that is unique to Westminster.
A thought-leader on the future of higher education and on the relationship between cost and quality in particular, Bassis championed the introduction of innovative project-based programs that blend online learning with face-to-face faculty coaching. These programs, an undergraduate Bachelor of Business Administration and a Masters of Business Administration program, demonstrate that superior learning outcomes can be achieved at lower costs. The college expects to expand this hybrid model to additional undergraduate and graduate programs.
Other notable accomplishments during Bassis’ tenure include the following:
- Total (undergraduate and graduate) student enrollment increased 44%
- Freshmen applications grew from 775 in 2002 to 3,349 for Fall 2011
- Diversity of the student body increased dramatically. For 2011, 56% of the freshman class is from out-of- state. In 2002, only 18% of students were from outside Utah.
- Students of color have increased 118%
- 19 new undergraduate programs and nine graduate programs have been added
- Eight new athletic teams added
- Seven academic centers and institutes added
- New Facilities
- Seven new facilities have been added to the campus, including the Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory, the Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center and the Meldrum Science Center (a LEED Platinum building)
- Operating budget increased by 90%
- Net assets increased by 58%
- Endowment increased by 42%
- Partnerships that include exchange and dual degree programs have been established with seven international universities
- Number of international students increased by 214%
- Princeton Review’s The 376 Best Colleges Includes Westminster in the top 15% of colleges and universities in the US, #13 for “Quality of Life” (2011 edition), #15 for “Town Gown Relations” (2011 edition)
- Chronicle of Higher Education - “Great Colleges to Work For” -selected each year since 2009 Named to the Honor Roll as one of the 10 “Best Colleges to Work For” among medium size institutions in 2011
- Named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll each year since 2006
- The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recently selected Westminster College for the 2010 Community Engagement Classification, among only 311 institutions
- Featured in The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out, by Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring, Jossey Bass, 2011
Media Contacts: Krista DeAngelis & Arikka Von (801) 832-2682
Sept. 8, 2011
Westminster is a nationally recognized, comprehensive liberal arts college. With a broad array of graduate and undergraduate programs, Westminster is distinguished by its unique environment for learning. Westminster prepares students for success through active and engaged learning, real world experiences and its vibrant campus community. Westminster’s unique location, adjacent to the Rocky Mountains and to the dynamic city of Salt Lake, further enriches the college experience. For more information, visit www.westminstercollege.edu or follow WestminsterSLC on Twitter.