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.
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.
“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.
Westminster College’s strength lies within the diversity of the School’s student body on a national level. To compete as a leader in collegiate education Westminster must look beyond the borders of the state and consider its competition for students across the country. The college has made great strides recruiting students across the U.S. and internationally creating diversity among its student body.
Providing education for students of Utah is a state college mission and in my opinion Westminster College is the only truly diverse academic option in the Utah. The state of Utah does not need another homogenous academic institution looking to educate its own. It is important to consider national figures before considering “to be more inviting” to one group or another. Nationally, a 20% LDS population is very large and is already a well-represented group on campus.
The state of Utah is becoming more culturally diverse each and every day and Westminster College is uniquely poised to benefit from this. Providing a liberal education in a very conservative state is a strength by which the School can benefit. To become more like a Utah’s State Universities or BYU will serve to dilute the brand that the college had strived to create over decades.