New President Bethami Dobkin said her commitment to diversity was one of her reasons for coming to Westminster College in her inaugural address Saturday. President Dobkin is the 19th president and second female president in Westminster’s history, and the inauguration ceremony was one part of the weekend-long celebration being hosted by Westminster.
After introductions from senior faculty and community members, including Governor Gary Herbert’s Education Advisor Tami Pyfer, Dobkin gave her inaugural address in which said she came to Westminster because she connected with the mission and legacy of Westminster.
“We — Randy and I — chose Westminster partly because of the history, values and traditions of the college that align with our own,” Dobkin said. “The place we chose needed to be a vibrant, scholarly community dedicated to teaching and learning. It needed to be a place committed to inclusive excellence, the understanding that belief for human dignity and the pursuit of equity are fundamental to educational purposes and the belief in serving a good greater than ourselves.”
In addition to Westminster students, alumni, faculty and staff, representatives from St. Mary’s College and University of San Diego, Dobkin’s former collegiate institutions, as well as representatives from Utah’s other higher education institutions also attended the celebration.
In her speech, Dobkin also spoke of her experience interacting with students at Westminster and listening to how the education they received affected their lives.
“I’ve seen the impact in students who tell me that they’ve completed courses they never imagined they could pass, in alumni who talk about the incredible connections made and possibilities that opened up to them because of their Westminster experience, and in employers who rave about students who are self-confident, articulate, and able to transfer skills across many different contexts,” Dobkin said.
Dobkin also said it was a goal of Westminster to cultivate diversity in the campus community and curriculum. Students said this passion and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion resonated with them.
“One of the things that I really liked, that she said was, at its core, Westminster is about the development of people,” said Ebony Tyler, a senior at Westminster. “I like how she focused on the humanness of our education and what it takes to make us all well-rounded individuals. […] I feel like that was powerful and beautiful and that she is going to do great things for our campus community.”
Students also said Dobkin’s speech showed a true understanding of Westminster’s unique campus culture and community.
“The sense of community that she kept drawing out and the feeling that Westminster has as soon as you get to campus is something that resonated with me,” said Jennifer Youngblood, a junior at Westminster.
Dobkin’s finished her speech looking towards the future of Westminster.
“We have great problems to solve and great possibilities to imagine as we move forward in this rapidly changing world,” Dobkin said. “No one can do it alone, but we can do it together. We are Westminster. Let us begin.”