It is always great fun to welcome new and returning students at the start of the fall semester. These interactions are particularly important at Westminster. Personal relationships mean so much to us. The relationships that develop among our students and particularly between our students and their faculty members who often become long-time mentors are, we believe, the key to truly transformative learning.
A colleague once remarked that the most valuable teaching moments were “van time,” those moments spent with students heading to and from a field trip or conference where the personal roles we sometimes assume in a classroom setting break down and where we relate to each other as human beings filled with curiosities and aspirations. Students at Westminster can find these valuable moments everywhere, from field trips to community engagement. Of particular note are the many faculty, staff and students who have connected institutionally and very personally with the community of South Salt Lake, a “Promise” community just southwest of the campus. As that community’s “promise partner” of the year in 2013, Westminster College has become a significant part of building the aspirations of young people who carry the hopes and dreams of their families for a better life in the future.
As parents of twin boys, now long out of college and doing quite well, Debi and I enjoy spending time with our Westminster students. It is most satisfying to attend a play, a concert, athletic contest or student presentation where we can see the results of the hard work put in by our students and faculty and where the passion and dedication of your children is so evident. We also enjoy rather frequent lunches and dinners with students, sometimes on campus and occasionally at the president’s residence. But we also worry about them, as do you. Will they stay safe? Will they make the right decisions? Will they stand up to negative peer pressures and lead by their example? There are ample resources available to you and your student at Westminster to help in these decisions. I urge you to discuss these difficult challenges with your son or daughter and take advantage of our student and residence life staff members whose experience and training can contribute to your student’s success.