Westminster community hopes to provide an inviting environment for LDS students

“I want our campus to be an inviting place for LDS kids,” President Steve Morgan said. President Morgan and the Director of the LDS Institute of Religion Rex Pond stand together as Westminster works to attract more LDS students.  Photos by Rachel Robertson

“I want our campus to be an inviting place for LDS kids,” President Steve Morgan said. President Morgan and the Director of the LDS Institute of Religion Rex Pond stand together as Westminster works to attract more LDS students.  Photos by Rachel Robertson

President Steve Morgan and Vice President of Enrollment Management John Baworowsky said they hope to increase enrollment by showcasing Westminster as an option for LDS students.

To strategize how to attract more LDS students, Baworowsky said he plans to create a working group of staff that is LDS or is interested in helping bring more LDS students to Westminster. He said they’ll focus on attracting more out-of-state LDS students because Utah could act as a magnet.

President Morgan is Westminster’s first LDS president. Currently, LDS students make up about 20 percent of the undergraduate student body on Westminster’s campus, Morgan said.

I want our campus to be an inviting place for LDS kids. It’s not BYU, but it’s a respectful place for LDS people to come to school.
— Westminster College's President, Steve Morgan

He said that since about 50 percent of Westminster’s student body come from Utah, there’s a high probability many will come from the LDS church.

“I want our campus to be an inviting place for LDS kids,” Morgan said. “It’s not BYU, but it’s a respectful place for LDS people to come to school.”

President Morgan said he’s heard Westminster has a stigma in the Utah LDS community and wonders how the college can fix it.

“I think LDS students themselves are our best recruiters,” Morgan said as he expressed the importance of current LDS students sharing their experiences with their faith while attending Westminster.

Jillian Todesco, sophomore nursing major and student of the LDS faith, said she thinks LDS students should consider Westminster because it will help them figure out and embrace who they really are.

Westminster students Laura Burton and Ben Jones chat with the Director of the LDS Institute Rex Pond before their lunch activity on Thursday, Oct. 22. Pond said he thinks Westminster allows LDS students to keep their standards while participating in school activities.

Westminster students Laura Burton and Ben Jones chat with the Director of the LDS Institute Rex Pond before their lunch activity on Thursday, Oct. 22. Pond said he thinks Westminster allows LDS students to keep their standards while participating in school activities.

“It’s an opportunity to put into practice what you really think and believe, because you’re surrounded by tons of personalities,” Todesco said.

Morgan and Baworowsky said they hope to use Westminster’s diversity as a way to appeal to LDS students.

“I think [LDS students] find Westminster a very interesting environment for learning that’s diverse, inclusive [and] respectful,” Morgan said.

As they work to appeal to more students of the LDS faith, Morgan said he wants to explain support systems here for them—including the Westminster LDS ward and institute of religion.

In the past, the Office of Admissions has worked with the Westminster Institute to reach out to admitted LDS students, said Vice President of Enrollment Management Baworowsky.

“Two years ago, [the institute] helped create a message that we then sent to all admitted students saying ‘they’re here and we’d love to see you here and be a part of it,’” Baworowsky said.

The institute has always been enthusiastic and has participated in the admitted student day fairs, Baworowsky said, but he also wonders how Westminster can do more.

The director of the Westminster LDS Institute of Religion, Rex Pond, said he hopes the institute can be a full partner in helping the administration attract more LDS students to campus.

“Westminster is a unique place,” Pond said. “I like how diverse the campus feels and how accepting it is to different groups.”

Todesco echoed this idea.

“What I really like about Westminster is that it’s a huge support system,” Todesco said as she reflected on how accepting and supportive the campus is of different people and ideals.


Pond said he thinks Westminster’s campus is respectful and allows LDS students to keep their standards while participating in school activities.