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Westminster College president Bassis to retire

Published September 8, 2011 3:24 pm

Michael Basis • Sociologist led private liberal arts school through.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After a decade of guiding Westminster College through a major transition, Michael Bassis, president of the private Salt Lake City liberal arts school, announced his retirement Thursday morning, effective at the end of this academic year.

Bassis broke the news to Westminster trustees meeting in Park City.

"My time at Westminster has been a highlight of my 40-year career in higher education," said a news release quoting Bassis. "The faculty and staff have been amazing, embracing innovation and change, and pioneering new approaches to student learning. They deserve enormous credit for transforming the college into one of the best schools of its kind in the country. With significant elements of our strategic plan in place, I feel that this is an appropriate time to turn the reins over to new leadership."

Bassis, a sociology professor, graduated from Brown University and earned his doctorate in the sociology of education at the University of Chicago. Before arriving at Westminster as president in 2002, he had served as dean of the University of South Florida and New College in Sarasota. Earlier he was president of Olivet College in Michigan.

"When we hired Michael, we asked him to take the institution to the next level, but we weren't sure exactly what that looked like, or how to get there. Now, nearly a decade later, the quality, vitality and reputation of the college has skyrocketed. Michael has been a magnificent visionary and leader, and will be greatly missed," said Robert Frankenberg, a venture capital executive who heads Westminster's board of trustees.

Under Bassis' leadership, Westminster enrollment has increased 44 percent and the student body has become far more diverse. This fall, 56 percent of the freshman class is from outside Utah, up from 18 percent when Bassis arrived. Nine graduate and 19 undergraduate programs have been added, along with eight athletic teams, while seven new academic centers, such as the Great Salt Lake Institute, were established under his tenure.

bmaffly@sltrib.com

Michael Bassisbass

A sociologist of education, Bassis has led Westminster College since 2002. .