Our Evolving Mission
Like many institutions with long histories, Westminster College has refocused its mission a number of times since its founding more than 128 years ago. Beginning as a residential academy for students in the primary and secondary grades, Westminster evolved into a combination secondary school and junior college and, in the 1940s, into a small liberal arts college. In the 1970s, we changed once again by developing a variety of professional and career-oriented programs, including graduate programs, and by enrolling a significant number of non-traditional-age and commuting students.
Today, Westminster has evolved into a new type of institution. We are neither a liberal arts college nor a comprehensive university, although we exhibit trademark features of both. We maintain a residential campus environment, offer small classes, and provide personalized attention to students—all of which are characteristic of the liberal arts college. At the same time, because we offer a variety of professional and career-oriented programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, emphasize practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge, attract non-traditional-age and commuting students, and are responsive to the needs of the local region, we function in ways similar to the comprehensive university. In fact, our educational model combines the best elements of the liberal arts college and the comprehensive university in a learning-centered environment designed to be both challenging and supportive.
One of the college’s historical strengths—and a source of great institutional pride—is our unusually strong dedication to students and their learning. As the college plans for the next stage of its development, we seek to build on this strength by focusing more deliberately on what students should learn to achieve success in a rapidly changing world and by developing methods to determine the extent to which that learning has taken place. We also seek to build on our historical strength of utilizing creative approaches to teaching and learning by expanding our use of educational designs that promote active, experiential, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary learning.
For most of its history, Westminster College has enjoyed an exceedingly positive reputation. It has long been known as a small independent college with a talented and dedicated faculty, strong students, an attractive campus, and an academic environment that is both challenging and supportive. Nonetheless, this reputation has been slow to spread beyond the state of Utah. The college is not well known in other states, even those in the intermountain region. As the college continues to increase the quality of the educational experience it provides, the time has come to gain a measure of national visibility. Thus, a central thrust of the college’s long-range vision, articulated in this strategic plan, is to become widely recognized as a distinctive and distinguished institution, one of the premier institutions of its kind in the country.