For the first time in Westminster College’s history, the 100 veteran students and 90 Army ROTC cadets will have a campus home at the new Center for Veteran and Military Services.
Located in Walker Hall, the new center officially opened its doors in a ceremony held on Friday, Sept.11.
Opening the ceremony with the national anthem, the Westminster Chamber Singers paved the way for key speakers: president Steve Morgan; the center’s executive director, Sylvia O’Hara; and Kim T. Adamson, a trustee of the college and donor to the new center.
The center started as an idea from a former staff member about three years ago. Westminster President Steve Morgan and Director of Corporate Relations Safia Keller never lost hope on creating the center. Keller said the center was put on the back burner due to space and funding, but the self-described pitbull kept bugging staff to make the idea a reality.
Westminster Major Gifts Officer Judy Fang was also involved with the process and worked with Keller to acquire necessary funds.
“Judy and Safia are our behind-the-scene fundraisers who took the idea and ran with it to get other donors interested,” President Morgan said.
The center is the only privately funded veteran center at a Utah institution of higher education. Keller has written many grant proposals, which has led to getting 10 donors—eight individuals and two groups.
Two donors were instrumental to the center’s start: Wood Moyle and Kim T. Adamson.
Moyle is a Westminster trustee and vice chair of the R. Harold Burton Foundation. He received his MBA from Westminster in 2008, and is described by many as a military buff. The R. Harold Burton Foundation was one of the main contributors to the center.
The other essential donor is Adamson. She committed to helping the center in January 2014, and a year and a half later, the center opened its doors.
“The actual idea started a couple of years ago, but the process went very quickly,” said Keller, the director of corporate relations.
Adamson attended Westminster in 1979, where she received her bachelor’s degree. Since her graduation, she has remained involved with enhancing the college’s appeal. Projects Adamson has been involved with include establishing the first chair at Westminster (aiding in international studies), creating the Anne Newman Sutton Weeks Reading Room in Giovale Library and creating the Kim T. Adamson Alumni House.
Displaying a Griffin dashboard ornament in her car, Adamson said she loves Westminster and enjoys being involved in all of these projects.
“It was a struggling school in the 70s,” Adamson said. “I have fun with the school now. It is an amazing school, and I love it.”
Adamson served in the United States Marine Corp for 38 years, including four combat tours. When asked to help out with the center, she was instantly engaged and pushed hard to make the center happen.
The space in Walker opened up last year. When Adamson laid eyes on it, she knew that was the center’s home.
“It was 100 percent perfect—I wanted it,” Adamson said.
The goal of the center is to provide a space where veteran and military students can come do homework, share similar stories and relax with a fresh pot of coffee.
This past July, Sylvia O’Hara was appointed executive director of the center, and said she is ready to help veteran and military students.
“We are really here about our student veterans,” O’Hara said in a speech at the opening ceremony. “If the center did not show that Westminster fully supports them, I think this crowd would.”
Students are also excited the center has opened its doors.
Carly Keogh, a sophomore nursing major in the Army ROTC, said she is looking forward to the relationships the center could provide.
“It will be a nice common area to meet other people and mentors, where I can ask someone who has been in the real army about different things,” Keogh said. “It will be exciting.”
Luke Childers, sophomore psychology major, is a part of the Marine Corps and is also excited about, “having our own little quiet place.”
While the center has acquired necessary funds to open its doors, it will still need funding to remain open.
“Despite all the funds we have raised so far, we are not done in our fundraising efforts," said Fang. “We are still in need of additional funding for programs and ongoing operations.”
The center is open to all Westminster veteran and military students, as well as other students looking to learn more information about the military. President Morgan said he wants all students to know they are welcome.
“It will be a place where all of our students come to learn what it’s like to defend our country and to hear about the stories of sacrifice,” Morgan said.