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

July 31, 2017

August 2, 2017

Dear colleagues,

The final month of summer is upon us and Fall Semester is just three weeks away. Faculty and staff are busy making final preparations, we are closing the books on our last fiscal year, and we’re finishing up year-end reports.

Enrollment Update

All eyes are focused on enrollment for Fall. While we expect it to be down over last year, I am pleased with the efforts of so many on retention and bringing in the new class. At the same time, we have launched our new strategic enrollment plan for Fall 2018. The new financial aid model—addressing affordability and access—is almost ready to go and early responses to it are very positive. Our admissions and financial aid teams are also ready to roll out new rebranded messaging and marketing materials.

New Academic Programs and Facilities

I am excited about the new Honors College and new majors in outdoor Education and Leadership and Sports Management. Enrollment in the Honors College is up 50 percent and interest in the new majors is also strong.

An extensive renovation has been completed in the nursing skills lab, and a new digital art space on the top floor of Converse Hall is almost finished too.

The proposed $13 million addition to the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts received a boost in early July with an additional gift from the Emma Eccles Jones Foundation, bringing the total raised to $6.8 million.

Fundraising and Endowment

While fiscal year-end fundraising results are still being audited, the advancement team announced they raised $11.2 million in 2016­–17, pushing the campaign total for three years to $???? Million. The endowment fund also hit a new record high of $77 million thanks to new gifts and strong investment results during the past year.

NCAA Division II

In July, the NCAA announced that Westminster’s athletics program can move to the third and final year in our transition to becoming a fully participating member in NCAA Division II.

Start-of-School Activities

With the start of Fall Semester comes orientation, move-in, and Convocation. This year, due to the historic solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, the faculty retreat has been rescheduled to Friday, August 25. The Back-to-School BBQ for faculty and staff will also be on Friday, August 25. Invitations with further details will be coming soon.

Final Thoughts

Last week, as I was walking across campus, I met six wonderful nursing alums celebrating an early 50th class reunion. Several of them hadn’t been to campus since they graduated in 1967. As I reminisced with them about all of the changes that have occurred at Westminster in that time, I was reminded of the many things that stayed the same. They talked about the faculty they knew, living in Hogle Hall, taking classes in Converse, and dining with their friends on campus. They discussed the impact Westminster had on their lives and the core values that have remained the same. They were incredibly proud of their alma mater and the progress we have made, but also still grateful for the tradition and values we hold true.

Nursing Alums with Steve

In three weeks, we will welcome over 500 new students as they begin their life-changing learning experience at Westminster. I hope you will all take time to remember how noble this work is as we work toward making next year one of our very best.

Kind 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