Westminster College during the late '60's and early '70's - Part I
By Elaine Brown
Westminster College moved to its present Sugar House location in 1911. Founded in 1875, it started out as the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute, a Presbyterian prep school. College classes were first offered in 1897. In 1902, the school became Westminster College, after the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith. The original school mascot was the Parson, reflecting its religious affiliation. In 1949 itbecame a four year liberal arts college.
The total number of students in the 1966-67 school year was less than 700, smaller than most Salt Lake area baby boomer high school graduating classes in that period. Westminster's total student for 2010-11 was 2,089 plus 674 graduate students. The number of graduates in May, 1970 was 115 versus the most recent 884 graduates.
Westminster's campus in the 1960's had far more green space since the total number of consisted (see Westminster Campus map) solely of:
Carlson Hall (men's dorm)
Dick Science Building
Ferry Hall (razed to make way for the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business Buildings during the 1980's, this building housed the now defunct Geology and Geography Department, lab and classrooms on the lower level; a formal reception area, classrooms and faculty offices on the main level; and an auxiliary women's dorm on the upper level.)
Foster Hall (auxiliary men's dorm)
Hogle Hall (women's dorm)
Nightingale Hall (library)
Walker Hall (main dining hall; lower level used as large-capacity lecture room)
The Bamberger Administration Building was added in 1967, the Shaw Student Center in 1969.
The Break Room
The lower level of the Payne Gymnasium was a multi-purpose room containing a kitchen with grill, open Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., during which breakfast, lunch, soft drinks and snacks were served. Students and faculty gathered there throughout the day, but especially at the 'natural break' that occurred from 9:40 to 10:30 a.m. when no classes were scheduled. Socializing, endless games of bridge, discussions-frivolous or intellectual - sometime a little of each, were all routine in this area. Activities and meetings were often held there on weekends and evenings; tables and chairs were pushed to the edges of the room for informal dances. The food service area was closed after the Shaw Student Center opened.
Westminster as a religious institution
As a result of its specific Presbyterian affiliation and overall Christian emphasis, Westminster's curriculum included a Department of Religion and Philosophy. During the late 1960's, students were required to take twelve semester hours from that department. Old and New Testament as well as Philosophy of Life (2 semester hours each) classes were mandatory; the remaining six hours could be completed from either discipline.
Wilber K. Anderson, former military Chaplin before assuming that role at Westminster, taught the Old Testament class in what can best be described more as a series of adventure stories than a religious experience given his military background. He gave the topic a modern perspective; the class was never boring. Good News for Modern Man, a somewhat controversial new-age interpretation of the New Testament published in 1966 was instructor Dr. Albert G. Hahn's text choice.
None of the religious classes were specific to any sect; rather they were generic and informative in a non-denominational way, e.g., Christianity through the Ages, Religions of America and part of a Christian-focused liberal arts curriculum.
Part II will provide readers a generalized overview of faculty, an overall assessment of the school during the late '60's, and a comparative look at Westminster College today.