Fall 2021

Honors College Impact Report

The Power of Giving

Message from the Dean

Richard Badenhausen
Dean of the Honors College

The great novelist Toni Morrison once noted that “writing is thinking,” an ethos that informs much of the programming in the Honors College, whose mission is to help students find their authentic voices. The Honors College positions students to be stronger writers and thinkers through prompts in Welcome to Thinking, meta-reflections in Tuesday Conversation, annual essay awards, seminar papers, and the Honorable Mention newsletter. I want to thank all the friends of Honors who have been so generous with their time and resources in supporting our efforts to enhance students’ communication capacities, especially in writing, which is the focus of this impact report. Thank you for all you do to help us with this work!

"Conversation about texts is central to the Honors classroom, but that conversation extends outside the classroom to include students’ own writing. Honors courses are often the number one source of Writing Center consultations, and many consultants are themselves Honors students.”

—Chris LeCluyse, professor of English; director of the Writing Center; associate provost of curriculum and assessment

Expect Excellence

Welcome to Thinking III

This seminar serves as the gateway course for new students joining the Honors College via the lateral entry pathway, both internal and external transfers. The course introduces the new cohort to ways of reading, writing, and speaking that reflect students’ own views of challenging texts. As with all Honors classes, the course employs a student-centered, conversational pedagogy. The seminar focuses on argumentative writing and how to use evidence to think critically about primary sources. These writing “prompts” receive feedback from two professors in different disciplines, helping students see that different disciplinary lenses can strongly shape the reception of ideas, sometimes even in contradictory ways.

"The skills I learned in the Honors College continue to influence my work as a journalist in meaningful ways. The courses’ focus on critical thinking helped shape the way I evaluate the claims and policy proposals of politicians, while the emphasis on clear writing taught me how to communicate complicated ideas. The college’s interdisciplinary framework also prepared me to think outside the box, listen to perspectives different from my own, and explore an issue from all angles.”

—Taylor Stevens (’18), former award-winning government reporter at the Salt Lake Tribune now pursuing a master’s in investigative journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism

During the past year, friends of Honors have supported:

• Start-up funds to help a new Geology/Honors faculty member establish an undergraduate research program

• Training of Westminster STEM and Education faculty to mentor and support students applying for major national fellowships

• Hiring of mindfulness instructors to work with Honors students on enhancing wellness

• Workshops on improving Honors team-teaching partnerships through the lens of gender equity

• Undergraduate research projects on voter turnout, refugee housing, feminist philosophy, and health care for unsheltered community members

• Support for a national survey of honors college deans to establish benchmark data

Catalyze Change

Honors College Writing Awards Endowed

A key feature of the Honors College mission is to help students develop their voice in writing, a goal encouraged in the annual writing award contest—now two decades old. That essay competition has recently been renamed in honor of Katherine “Katie” Metcalf Nelson, whose family generously established a $200,000 endowment to support the awards in recognition of Nelson’s dozen years teaching at Westminster College.

The renaming also celebrates her long career as an educator, art historian, painter, and writer. Each of the four awards tied to different Honors core seminar categories will now be $1,000, with an additional $1,000 check for the best essay award.

A native of San Francisco, Katie Nelson earned a BA in history from Stanford and an MA in art history from U.C. Berkeley. After teaching in California, Katie moved with her husband, Jim, to Salt Lake City where she began teaching art history at Westminster. The Nelson Writing Awards are selected each year by the 15-person Honors Council and presented at the annual Honors College spring banquet.

Investing in Honors

Our community came together this March during Westminster’s Giving Day to raise $48,000 in support of the Honors College’s student wellness programming, a total that represented 20 percent of the funds raised that day. The Honors College Advisory Board helped lead this effort with 100 percent participation, guided by Board Chair Catherine Foster (’17), and committee chairs Heather Brown (’06) and Elaine Sheehan (’18). Honors parents got into the act, too, surpassing an anonymous $5,000 giving challenge. A total of 197 donations were received, which fell three short of the final Giving Day dean’s challenge in which Richard Badenhausen would have shaved his head. Thanks to all who participated in this effort of expanding our wellness efforts across the Honors College!

The Honors College has benefited from some generous gifts since the last impact report, including:

• A $200,000 endowment to support the annual Honors College essay contest

• A $30,000 endowment of a scholarship to support continuing Honors students and an additional $25,000 to an existing continuing scholarship

• $11,500 to expand the annual Honors Summer Independent Research Program

• $10,000 to start a Westminster Wardrobe that will assist students in need of formal wear for attending national fellowship interviews

• An initial commitment of $50,000 to underwrite a new Honors College seminar room—the first dedicated learning space for Honors on campus