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Ideas Quickly Become Reality with 'PIN' Money

Ideas Quickly Become Reality with “PIN”Money

by Jennifer Cooper

President Bassis at PIN dinner on January 25th.Though he would never list it on his credentials, one of President Bassis’ many roles is that of an investment broker. Although this seems an unlikely job description for a college president, Westminster College is unique because friends and alumni who belong to the President’s Innovation Network (PIN) entrust him with their resources to finance plans that will net long-term rewards for the college.

Lindsay Atwood, a consultant for Sorenson Capital and a PIN investor, had this to say about the program: “I don’t just give money away. I like to see that, in one way or another, the money I give is making a difference. I appreciate the PIN concept because it allows the president to act now, versus too late, on plans that are good for Westminster and its future; and I get to see an immediate return on my investment in the form of programs that are educating students within months of the first presentation of the idea.”

President Bassis takes the gifts entrusted to him seriously and very carefully selects programs that will be funded by PIN investments. One such program is Westminster’s Center for China-America Business Studies (CCABS), a soon-to-be self-sustaining partnership with universities and businesses in China. The center is directed by Christopher Tong, professor of economics at Westminster. President Bassis recognized that a mutually beneficial affiliation with institutions in a country slated to be a strong force in the business world is exactly the type of distinctive program that will continue to advance Westminster’s reputation and forward momentum.

On January 25, President Bassis hosted PIN members and their guests at a special evening to celebrate the Center for China-America Business Studies. In addition to listening to Chinese music and feasting on a traditional Chinese dinner specially prepared by Westminster’s Chef Jason Kerzner, guests heard presentations from Professor Tong, Gore School of Business Dean Jim Clark, and President Bassis about this unique program and its future direction. Guests had the opportunity to ask questions about the program. Not only was this evening a celebration of the center, but also an opportunity to provide an in-depth report on the dividends PIN investments are already yielding toward the innovative, experiential, and, indeed, unique education that Westminster provides to its students. Like Lindsay Atwood, PIN investors appreciated seeing such a terrific return.

The President’s Innovation Network (PIN) was established in the fall of 2005 to fund innovative ideas and strategic initiatives at the college. Membership in PIN requires a $10,000 annual donation. Today, 30 Westminster friends and alumni are PIN members. Through their generous support, President Bassis has not only been able to provide funding to the Center for China-America Business Studies, but also to two other new initiatives, the Environmental Center and the Center for Civic Engagement. For more information about the President’s Innovation Network, please contact Jennifer Cooper at


During the week of February 20, 2007, a delegation of 30 students and four faculty from the School of Economics at Nankai University in Tianjing, China, visited Westminster College. The primary purpose of their visit was to sign a sister-relationship agreement with Westminster, as well as to celebrate Chinese New Year. This relationship began informally when Westminster students, led by Professor Christopher Tong, took a May Term trip to China.

While here, the Nankai students shared life experiences with American students: attending classes ranging from macro-economics with Dr. Dick Chapman to an animal physiology class with Dr. Judy Rogers; performing beautiful dances, songs, and musical numbers in ancient and modern Chinese attire; listening to Westminster’s Chamber Singers perform the new international music they’ve been practicing and participating in a resident-advisor-sponsored Chinese New Year celebration. Everywhere they went, the students were welcomed and appreciated. They felt like celebrity icons on campus. They were honored to be the experts on their country, as many American students and professors spent time getting to know China’s culture, economy, careers, technology, politics, and opinions. The grand finale of their trip was the signing ceremony in which students, faculty, and staff of Nankai and Westminster College surrounded Dean Zhang, Dean of the School of Economics at Nankai University, and Dean Clark, Interim Dean of Gore School of Business, as they signed a sister-relationship agreement symbolizing the current and future relationship between the two institutions.