President Stephen R. Morgan became Westminster University's eighteenth president in July 2015. He has devoted more than 3 decades of service to Westminster in a variety of administrative roles, including vice president for institutional advancement and executive vice president and treasurer. Morgan's versatile leadership style has made him a key asset to the college's executive team—he has advised 6 past presidents on almost every major campus decision since 1981. He has been instrumental in shaping Westminster into the institution it is today, leading the college's master plan, as well as the 2004–14 and 2014–19 Strategic Plans.
As executive vice president and treasurer, Morgan managed the college's finances through a period of deficits to 25 consecutive years of balanced budgets, and he oversaw the growth of the endowment to more than $70 million. He also directed 17 campus construction and renovation projects, including the Giovale Library; the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business; and the Dolores Doré Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center. Morgan attained significant costs savings for many of these capital projects by initiating the college's use of public financing for facilities and securing the first investment-grade rating for issuing tax-exempt bonds.
In 2007, Morgan embraced a new career challenge at Westminster by becoming the vice president for the Institutional Advancement department, overseeing the college's fundraising division. His inherent sense of optimism, enthusiasm, and authenticity made him a natural choice for this role, and he led his team in raising more than $50 million for strategic priorities, including the Meldrum Science Center and the Campaign for Scholarships. The percentage of alumni giving back to the college doubled during his tenure, and the 2014–15 fiscal year was marked by the highest number of donors to the college in Westminster's history.
President Morgan is an active member of the Salt Lake community. He serves on the board of Pitney Bowes Bank, the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corporation of Utah, and the Utah Campus Compact. Morgan was featured in Utah Business' "Forty Under 40" program, and the American Institute of Architects Utah Chapter honored him in 2006 for his role in completing Westminster's master plan.
Morgan earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Utah and is a certified public accountant (CPA). An avid runner, he has completed 28 marathons and is a member of the St. George Marathon "20-year club," after running the race for 20 consecutive years. His greatest joy in life is his family: wife, Sandy, and children Amanda, Danny, and Alex—all of whom are Westminster alumni—as well as his 8 grandchildren.
Dr. Brian Levin-Stankevich became the seventeenth president of Westminster University in July of 2012. He brought a career-long commitment to providing opportunities for all and a passion for the value and integrity of an education grounded in the liberal arts and sciences. Levin-Stankevich was born in Buffalo, NY, and attended Hamilton College for his undergraduate education, and received master’s and doctoral degrees in history from the University at Buffalo (SUNY).
A Fulbright Fellowship facilitated his working in Soviet archives on his dissertation in Russian legal history. He has published and taught in Russian history, comparative legal history, enrollment management, comparative education, and higher education administration. He was a professor in the History department at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, which received the 2006 Regents’ Teaching Excellence Department Award, and was the 2011 recipient of the President’s Award from Region IV-East of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
Prior to becoming president of Westminster University, Levin-Stankevich served as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire from 2006–12, where he successfully led the implementation of new degree programs (including the school’s first doctoral program), more than $100 million in new construction and renovation, continuous annual growth in private fundraising, and broader integration of the university with its surrounding community.
From 2005–06, he served as interim president of Eastern Washington University, where he previously served as vice provost, vice president, and then provost from 1995–2006. He has served on the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development boards in Spokane and Eau Claire, and in various roles for the United Way of Eau Claire.
Throughout a long career in a range of administrative roles, Levin-Stankevich has maintained his connection to his scholarship—and his students—through presentations and classroom teaching, and continuing this commitment even as chief campus executive. He has held positions in enrollment management, student affairs, undergraduate education, as an associate dean, and as a chief academic affairs officer, serving at the University at Buffalo, Florida Atlantic University, Eastern Washington University, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire prior to his arrival in Salt Lake City. He has been active in national and regional professional organizations and is a member of scholarly associations. He served on the NCAA Division III Presidents’ Council, and as a peer evaluator for 2 regional accrediting associations. He completed a post-doctoral program at the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida. Dr. Levin-Stankevich holds a bachelor's degree in history from Hamilton College and master's degree and PhD in history from SUNY at Buffalo.
Michael S. Bassis was the sixteenth president of Westminster University, the only private, comprehensive liberal arts college in Utah. An authority on educational change and an active participant in the national conversation on the future of higher education, Dr. Bassis has had a wide range of experiences as a teacher, scholar, and administrator over his 30-year career in higher education. Upon his appointment at Westminster in July 2002, Dr. Bassis embarked on a comprehensive strategic planning process which resulted in the development of a new, innovative, and ambitious 10-year Strategic Plan for the college. The plan, endorsed by the faculty and adopted by the Board of Trustees, focuses on bringing Westminster into national prominence as an institution distinguished by its distinctive educational programs, its record of preparing graduates for success in a rapidly changing world, and its commitment to continuous improvement, effectiveness, and value. Now, after almost 5 years, most of the goals of the plan have been met.
Before coming to Westminster University, Dr. Bassis served as the chief academic and administrative officer of New College of Florida, a small, highly selective, and innovative public liberal arts college. He presided over the college's change in status from a college of the University of South Florida to an independent institution in the State University System.
As president of Olivet College in Michigan from 1993–98, Dr. Bassis led a successful effort of institutional transformation and revitalization. At the center of this effort was a collaborative planning process that produced a new institutional vision, a new curriculum, and a campus-wide statement of expectations. Over a period of 5 years, Olivet was recognized for its successful efforts at institutional renewal by the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the John Templeton Foundation. Dr. Bassis's role in the Olivet transformation was chronicled by Stephen R. Covey in his book, Living the Seven Habits.
Prior to Olivet, Dr. Bassis served as executive vice president and university provost at Antioch University. Earlier in his career, he held senior administrative positions at Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Preceding these appointments, Dr. Bassis spent 10 years as a faculty member in the department of sociology and anthropology at the University of Rhode Island. He has served as chair of the undergraduate education section of the American Sociological Association, editor of the journal Teaching Sociology, and as a senior fellow with the Project on the Future of Higher Education. In addition, he has served on the Commission on Women and the Commission on Leadership and Change at the American Council on Education, the Board of Directors of the National Society for Experiential Education and the Board of Trustees of Defiance College. A graduate of Brown University, Dr. Bassis holds a master's degree and PhD in the sociology of education from the University of Chicago. He and his wife, Mary, have 4 grown children.
Her aspiration from the start was for Westminster to be the first choice for the students and the best choice for the students. In April 1995, 14 members of Westminster's presidential search committee flanked a large oval table. They were waiting to interview the next candidate. After a steady stream of dark suits, the red dress first caught their attention. Yet something else unwaveringly held their attention as this candidate took over the room for the next 2 hours. They soon realized they were face-to-face with 100-proof Peggy Stock. "Call me Peggy," she said.
The college had finally overcome some bad financial times; by 1995, it had been in the black for 12 years. The board wanted it to stay that way. They were looking for someone who matched the caution of their mood. Instead, the woman in the red dress turned their thoughts to "what could be." Peggy saw the college as a "wonderful jewel that needed polishing." The board soon became convinced that her particular skills set fit the college's need they saw a "can do" president. The vote was unanimous. Peggy was on her way to becoming the fifteenth president of Westminster University and the first female college president in the state of Utah.
You don't change anything during your first 90 days so goes the old adage. Yet after 6 days, Peggy confronted the board at a retreat saying, "We have a number of issues to deal with, and we can take a year to get to know each other or close the door, roll up our sleeves, and start. The board, God bless 'em, said 'close the door.'"
In 90 days she and the board changed the bylaws and articles of incorporation for the college. Instead of representational trusteeship, they set criteria of "time, treasure, and talent."
"Though this was against the advice of college advisors, it proved very successful," said Executive Vice President Steve Morgan. "The board lined up behind her in a way that they had never done before under any president. They became very focused on what was good for Westminster."
But Peggy was doing more than just making changes she was instilling a vision in all at Westminster. Her aspiration from the start was for Westminster to be the first choice for the students and the best choice for the students. A residential village became a large part of that vision. The 3 residence halls that now surround the green on the south side of campus brought not only residential students to campus, but all the energy and enthusiasm that accompanies 500 resident undergraduates. Raising visibility and creating an identity for Westminster University also became a priority.
Peggy's strong personal leadership and energetic advocacy brought about a different perception of Westminster. She became a sought-after speaker whose style informed and entertained her audience. A storyteller, conveyer of a good joke, and master of just the right quotation, her speaking popularity mushroomed the requests poured in. Talking to one audience about making difficult decisions, she quoted Robert Orben, who said, "I know deep down that the whole world is not against me. Some of the smaller countries are actually neutral."
In her first 2 years alone, she delivered 69 speeches. During that whirlwind speaking circuit, she convinced many that Westminster was a jewel in their midst that they failed to recognize. And it was not just external constituencies. "Her greatest accomplishment was having the whole college community realize what a great college we are," said Ginger Giovale, chair of the Westminster University Board of Trustees. "Peggy convinced everyone, and this affected all aspects of the college. The successful fund-raising couldn't have happened without this transformation of attitude."
But perception and visibility were not the only shifting priorities under Peggy's tenure. In 2001, Utah Business named Westminster University one of the top 5 companies to work for in Utah. "I think a lot of the credit goes to Peggy. She felt very strongly about benefits and equity in salaries. She conducted salary surveys with peer colleges and slated $976,379 over five years to ensure equity," said Morgan.
"I think the most satisfying accomplishment for me, internally, is the salary adjustments. I know it made a difference in faculty's and staff's lives," said Peggy. "Their salaries are better, their benefits are better, and the facilities are better. I feel good about that."
In June 2001 Peggy reluctantly announced her retirement. She cited nagging health problems and a desire to spend more time with her husband, Bob, and her family. A year's notice not only gave the college enough time to find a new president it also offered Peggy an opportunity to adjust to the change. "I have lots of energy and my mind doesn't stop. I wonder what I will do with my mind. I have never learned to live life. I have always worked life. I guess I have some new lessons to learn," said Peggy, who admits that while she may slow down, she will still serve on some boards and perhaps do some volunteer work. "Most presidents fall in love with their first college. I fell in love with my last one. This is a wonderful place to close my career. We've worked hard. We've laughed hard. It is very difficult to leave these wonderful people," she said.
Dr. Dick was an educator, administrator, and fundraiser. He had been president of Centenary College in New Jersey and vice president at Cornell University Medical Center. He graduated from the University of Kansas, earned a master's degree from California State University and a PhD in marketing and management from Northwestern. Also an avid flutist, jogger and dog-lover, Charles Dick and his wife Barbara won many friends for the college.
James E. "Pete" Petersen, Kennecott Copper Company's industrial relations manager, served the college twice as president, once for 8 months in 1979 and again from 1982–85. A businessman with no college degree, he saw the college through the brink of bankruptcy and a reorganization that put the college on the road to its current success. The Petersen House, a building off campus, is currently used for student housing.
C. David Cornell was college president from 1979–January of 1982. He had previously served as vice president of colleges in New York, Ohio, and North Carolina.
Helmut P. Hofmann was college president from 1976–January of 1979. He had a PhD from Heidelberg University and was the academic vice president at Weber State in Ogden, Utah, and Westminster before being chosen as president in 1976. Notably, the award-winning Nunemaker Place was built during his term.
President Shaw was a Westminster graduate and earned degrees from Yale and the University of Utah. He was also a college trustee. His term saw a much needed Union Building and Malouf Hall added to campus. The Shaw Center was named in his honor, and houses Shaw Dining Hall, the Westminster Bookstore, and the Career Center.
W. Fred Arbogast was college president from 1963–68. Arbogast was a Westminster alum and the former principal of East High and Highland High School. He held graduate degrees from the University of Denver and University of Utah. His term included the addition of the first free-standing library on campus, Nightingale Hall. He died in July, 1984.
Frank E. Duddy was college president from 1956–1963. Dr. Duddy was the school's first nonministerial president. He earned a PhD from Harvard and had taught 10 years at the U.S. Naval Academy. During his term, such key additions as Carleson and Hogle Halls were added to the college.
Burton Wheatlake and his sisters, Lois and Joy, practically grew up on the Westminster University campus. Their father, B. C. J. Wheatlake, was on the Westminster Board of Trustees from 1927, until his death in 1964. He was interim president of the college in 1952–53.
Robert D. Steele was the fifth president of Westminster University, and he is most famous for transforming the college into a 4-year institution.
Herbert W. Reherd was the college's fourth president, but first residential president. He served Westminster for over 25 years. During his term, the Cushman Cottage was built on the east side of 1300 East as the president's house along with such campus improvements as the F.R. Payne Gymnasium and Foster Hall.
Reverend Robert M. Stevenson was Westminster's president for 6 years, though absent doing fund-raising much of the time. He graduated from Wabash College and Princeton Theological Seminary, was a Presbyterian minister and became the vice president of Bellevue College near Omaha, Nebraska before coming to Westminster.
During this time, Westminster was still under the name of Sheldon Jackson College.