Westminster College has been a distinctive part of the educational landscape in the Intermountain West for 130 years. But even after all those years, I suspect many people see us as somewhat alien.We are unusual: the only private, independent, comprehensive liberal arts college in Utah and one of the very few in the region.We are small: our average enrollment of 2,500 students is dwarfed by enrollments of the exceedingly large institutions that surround us.We are perceived to be expensive: while well below the national average for private colleges and universities, even before one considers our many scholarships, our tuition is seen largely in comparison to the modest tuition that state- and church-supported schools charge.
But the most important way in which we are unusual is our emphasis on students and their learning. The term “higher education” often summons up images of large lecture halls, filled with professors lecturing and students taking notes to prepare for taking tests.We paint a different picture.We think people learn best when they are actively engaged in the process. So we have created a community of learners where the faculty, the students, and the staff learn with and from each other.We study geology in our mountains, sociology in our city…the world in which we live is a vital part of our classrooms and an extension of our campus. Experiences in our rich local environment are blended into curricula that combine the best elements of the liberal arts with the strengths of professional education in an environment designed to be both challenging and supportive. By emphasizing active, experiential, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary learning, we help students prepare for both personal and professional success.
It’s easy to describe a community of learners but hard to create one, which may explain why so few colleges even try. Westminster, however, does more than try—we actually succeed. I think you’ll find evidence of that in this issue of the Review.We profile a few of our graduates to highlight their accomplishments and also to demonstrate the fact that Westminster helps prepare people to become lifelong learners. The essays on the May term trip to Chaco Canyon illuminate our efforts to move education out of the classroom and make learning in and from the world around us a part of the college experience. The story about Jane Goodall illustrates the kinds of interesting activities the college supports for our students and our community.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Review. And I strongly encourage you to come visit us in the near future and get a first-hand sense of the changes we are making and the excitement that pervades the campus community. Type your body content here.
Michael S. Bassis