I can't believe school starts in almost two weeks. I am beginning to see students coming back from the summer break, and faculty and staff are busy making final preparations. I must confess that I feel a little anxious thinking about all that I need to do with Convocation and the various welcome back retreats and events that will unfold in the next month. It will be an exciting year.
I have some wonderful news to report. This morning I received the official letter inviting Westminster to become a provisional member in NCAA Division II. Over the next three years we will work toward full membership (much like an accreditation process). This month, we will begin competing with schools in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) with the confidence that we are now on our way to full NCAA II eligibility. These are terrific institutions to compete against, which will boost our resolve and visibility. Please join us on Tuesday at noon in the Special Events Room of the Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center for the official announcement celebration.
I want to thank former president Brian Levin-Stankevich and athletic director Shay Wyatt for leading this effort over the last two years and the many coaches, staff, and faculty who contributed to the reports and studies required. I thought you might enjoy the video clip we prepared to the NCAA Membership Committee to promote why Westminster was ready for this next step:
As you have read in the weekly enrollment reports, the college will be welcoming an estimated 490 first-year students to campus, and our graduate programs are close to meeting or exceeding their enrollment goals. A final push is underway to reach out to any returning students who haven't registered yet.
We have several staff searches that are wrapping up in the next few days for the vice president of advancement, director of diversity and inclusion, and director of the career resource center. I am pleased to announce that we have a new Title IX/EEO coordinator: Jason Schwartz- Johnson. He joins us next month from serving as the Title IX deputy coordinator at the University of Illinois.
Many important initiatives have gotten good traction over the summer, including the work being done by Dr. James Hedges and Ryan Lewis with our project-based and continuing education programs. Dr. Hedges represented Westminster at the Competency-Based Education Network (CBEN) last week in Cleveland, and is involved in the national effort to appeal for more federal financial aid for students in project-based programs.
Real headway is being made with several corporate partnerships. We are currently delivering our Leadership Certificate program to employees of Arnold Machinery, Discover Card, and Mountain America Credit Union. Later this month, we will be offering our second “Innovation Lab” workshop to Phillips Edison & Company.
Our involvement with Discover Card is increasing on several fronts, and a third cohort of their employees will begin our project-based BBA program. We are also exploring educational partnerships with Davis School of Applied Technology and Hill Air Force Base that look very promising and could bring us a number of new students.
Many of you may remember Charla Long, a national expert in project-based learning that came to campus several years ago. She will be back on campus next week to help us refine our project-based programs and explore ways to better market them.
By now, you have also received invitations to the President's Breakfast and the Back-to-School BBQ. I hope you will join me at both of these events. They will be opportunities to launch the school year and connect with your colleagues.
Please enjoy the last days of summer and know how much I appreciate your work to forward the mission of the college.