Westminster's trustee head stepping down
The Salt Lake Tribune
June 3, 2006
By Shinika A. Sykes
It's not often that college officials say they aren't looking to increase the size of their campus or the number of students or professors.
But that's exactly what Westminster College's Trustee chairwoman Ginger Giovale says about the Salt Lake City-based private liberal arts school. Westminster, with its 2,500 students and 28 professors, is just the right size, she says.
"We like to keep our values . . . and one of the most important is small classes with individual attention," said Giovale, the first and only female chairwoman of Westminster's board. "We don't want students to leave with just training for a specific job. We take the holistic approach to education. We want our graduates to be critical thinkers."
In March, Giovale, 62, announced plans to retire following Westminster's commencement today at the E Center.
"Everything is right at Westminster," she said in a telephone interview from her home in Flagstaff, Ariz. "[Michael Bassis] is a strong president with visionary leadership skills and the board has many talented people ready to help him take Westminster to new levels of excellence," Giovale said. "This is a good time to attend to some of the personal things in my life."
If it were Bassis' call to make, Giovale would serve forever.
"Westminster has been fortunate to have Ginger at the helm for nearly three decades," he said. "She has seen the college through an amazing period of growth and change."
Under Giovale's tenure, Westminster - located at 1830 S. 1300 East in Salt Lake City - has undergone a rebirth. The campus now includes the Giovale Library, a new residential village, the Gore School of Business, the Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory and the Delores Eccles Health, Wellness and Athletic Center. Coming soon, will be a $30 million science center.
Nick Rose, a former Questar chief executive who also is retiring from Westminster's board, recalled Giovale leaning toward him and whispering, "Isn't this fun?" Rose later asked Giovale what she meant. "She had a vision that Westminster could offer the kind of educational experience that has a positive influence in transforming an individual's life."
That vision allows Giovale to step down from the board but not away from the school she loves.
Earlier this year, Giovale and her husband, John Giovale, donated $10 million - the largest single gift in Westminster's history. The money will help the school build the new science center.
"I plan to stay connected," Giovale said. The building will be the "final large facility" because Westminster's campus will be built out, she added.
The $10 million gift was made possible by the "creative work" of W.L. Gore and Associates - the company started by her parents in the basement of their home in Delaware. W.L. Gore and Associates makes medical devices , products used in computers and autos as well as Gore-Tex, the protective fabric.
Born in Utah, Giovale was raised in Delaware. At 17, she returned to Utah as a Westminster student.
She graduated with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. She refers to her Westminster's education as a "life changing and life enhancing experience."
But Westminster also is a family tradition. Giovale's grandmother Dora Gore attended the liberal arts college in the 1890s. Her parents, William "Bill" and Genevieve "Vieve" Gore met at Westminster in the 1930s. Giovale met John, her husband of 41 years, at Westminster in the 1960s. Their son, Danny, is the fourth generation Gore-Giovale to graduate from Westminster. Danny Giovale also met his wife at Westminster.
Reflecting on the past 29 years as a Westminster trustee, Giovale said simply, "I am proud to have been a small part of Westminster's success."