Westminster Expedition Students in the Open American West

During the 2017 Fall Semester, 14 students, two professors, and a program coordinator will load books, camping gear, and themselves into a couple of vans and hit the road for a semester-long tour of the American West.

The trip is designed as an exploration into the issues at the heart of the contemporary West. Students will earn 16 credits in environmental studies and history as they study Environmental Cooperation and Conflict, Landscape and Meaning, the History of Public Lands, and the Native West.

This prolonged journey into the field will allow us to learn directly from landscapes and ecosystems, as well as from people who live, work, and study in those places. Together, we expect to build a cohort of impassioned scholars with a particular breadth and depth of experiential knowledge who are equipped to build a better future for the West.

We will visit iconic, protected sites like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, contentious places like the Little Bighorn and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, working landscapes like the Butte Copper Mines, and communities from present-day Native nations to "New West" towns like Bend, Twisp, and Moab.

Meet the Expedition

Learn More About the Students and Faculty on the Expedition

Read the Latest Journal Entry

May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I love this time of year at Westminster. It's a time of celebration and fond farewells as another academic year comes to a close. The campus looks spectacular and is ready for next week's graduation events. Our maintenance crew does an amazing job to keep the campus looking beautiful. I also appreciate everyone who helped with our campus cleanup last Friday. It exemplifies the teamwork attitude I see every day among our faculty and staff.

Commencement and graduation ceremonies are only a week away. Departments work on planning and organizing these events all year. I am grateful for their efforts in making this week an occasion to remember for our students and their families. I hope to see you all at the brunch on Saturday and at the various events planned next week. Pray for good weather!

We only need three more students to achieve our freshman recruiting goal for next fall, and I promised the admissions staff that I would ring the Converse carillon the moment we achieve it. Already, we are working on enrollment for fall 2016. Last week, I attended the Campus Preview Open House. It was a great success, with more than 120 high school juniors in attendance. Admissions, faculty, and staff created an exciting and informative program that I believe will make these prospective students give Westminster serious consideration next year when they are applying for college.

Westminster does an outstanding job of providing scholarships and financial aid to many of our students, but sometimes it just isn't enough, and students resort to taking out supplemental loans that are often difficult to pay back. The family of a current student has been generous enough to help solve this tough situation. This week, the Morris family provided the college with a generous scholarship donation that will go to students in such situations. The Morris family has been so impressed by their grandson's experience at Westminster that they wanted to find a way to give back. This kind of compassionate giving is extraordinary and will help a number of our students keep their education affordable.

Norm and Barbara Tanner have also been Westminster champions. Norm Tanner passed away a few months ago, and I attended his memorial service last Sunday. Norm was 100 years old when he died. He and Barbara have been devoted supporters of Westminster College for many years and have stayed very active in their philanthropic efforts, even later in life. The Tanners have supported several recent initiatives, including the work being done in South Salt Lake. Their greatest and most visible contribution has been the Tanner Atrium. As benefactors of this space, the Tanners gave the college a place to hold community gatherings, galas, and even employee recognitions! Our condolences go out to Barbara and the Tanner family.

Lisa Gentile, Melissa Flores, and I were honored to be invited to a special event last week hosted by Governor Herbert and the Women's Leadership Institute to announce a new statewide initiative to promote women in leadership, ElevateHER. At the event I signed, on behalf of Westminster, the ElevateHER commitment letter. All signatories agree to develop and implement appropriate measures to boost the status of women within their organizations, paying special attention to issues of women's recruitment, retention, promotion, and wage equality. I believe this is an important statewide initiative, and I am proud that the college has been invited to participate.

We have some important people transitioning from the college over the coming weeks. Lucille Sansing will say goodbye after a year of extraordinary service. Her contributions include: working with President Brian on several strategic initiatives, chairing the Provost Search, leading the Commission on Women's Success, and bringing amazing speakers to campus, such as Sister Helen Prejean and our commencement speaker, Clayborne Carson. Lucille is known for her witty sayings, so please join me at her 'Pants on Fire' farewell reception on Tuesday afternoon in my office at 3:30 to hear some more 'Lucille-isms.'

Preston Chiaro will conclude his service as dean of the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business after commencement. His leadership has been instrumental in strengthening the school of business as it prepares for AACSB accreditation. The good news is that we will still see a lot of Preston as he transitions into his new role as vice-chair of the Westminster College Board of Trustees. Thank you, Preston.

Trisha Teig will also be leaving us after five years of service, most recently serving as Assistant Dean of Students. Trisha has been a leader with countless initiatives, especially her work as Title IX Coordinator and the implementation of GriffinQuest a leadership development cohort model. Please stop by the Foster Faculty Lounge on Wednesday at 3 p.m. to wish her well in her upcoming PhD program at Florida State University.

Please also don't forget to stop by and say farewell to President Brian and Debi at their reception next Friday afternoon. We wish them great success as they move to the next chapter in their lives.

And lastly, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend! We have a busy week ahead, and the rest will do us good.

Best regards,

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Expedition in the News

Two people on a canoe
Group of Students around Campfire

The Route

Our proposed route is an enormous figure eight, heading northwest first (because of potential early winter weather) and including Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Course-related sites include sites of environmental/cultural conflict or cooperation (e.g., Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; East Tavaputs Plateau tar sands; Klamath River dams; the Berkeley Pit, the Nevada Test Site, Owens Lake); National Parks (e.g., Yellowstone, North Cascades, Olympic, Redwood, Grand Canyon, Great Basin); wilderness areas (e.g., Bob Marshall, Glacier Peak); Native nations and sites (e.g., Burns Paiute, Coast Salish, Miwok, the Nez Perce trail, Colville, Pyramid Lake, Hopi); dam sites (e.g., Teton, Grand Coulee, Hoover, Hetch Hetchy, Snake River); and relevant towns/cities (e.g., Bozeman, Bend, Cody, Moab, Winthrop, Page).

Expedition Route

Course Descriptions

Follow the Expedition's Progress