September 20, 2021
Dear Westminster Community,
Westminster is a remarkable place. Since our founding 70 years ago, we have established a unique standing among the nation’s independent schools, with our rigorous academic program and focus on our Christian mission. Throughout our history, we have produced creative and motivated graduates who possess a deep sense of values and empathy—in short, leaders of conscience. Our Westminster community, past and present, shares a pride in our institution that is matched by few schools. We are proud to participate in this State of the School Report in recognition of this important milestone.
As Westminster moves into its eighth decade, the Board of Trustees continues to be highly engaged, leading the School at an appropriate level by setting policies and programs to be implemented by our effective leadership team and faculty and staff. Recent and ongoing areas of focus for the Board have included the following:
- development and financing of the Campus Plan currently being implemented;
- articulation of our Christian mission as specified on the School’s website;
- complete overhaul of The Westminster Endowment management;
- enhancement and funding of our student mental health support initiative;
- enhanced security measures;
- adoption and advancement of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative;
- review and funding of our COVID-19 protocols;
- review and update of Board structure and governance;
- annual adoption and oversight of the School’s $75 million budget.
As the Board of Trustees (like those who served before us), we are deeply committed not just to maintaining the Westminster of today, but working with our School President and leadership to lean into tomorrow, with a vision to evolve while never losing sight of our twin pillars of academic excellence and commitment to Christian values. The results of our recent Climate and Culture Survey confirm our community’s deep commitment to these principles, while providing valuable data and insights to guide our decisions going forward.
As has been the case throughout Westminster’s history, adapting in response to educational and societal changes produces debate, both within our Board and within our community. When conducted in a civil and respectful manner, this debate is healthy and sets the foundation for continuing success. There never will be, nor should we expect, complete consensus on all issues within our diverse community. However, Wildcats near and far should share the same confidence that you have for 70 years that this Board and School leadership are constantly and carefully evaluating a path forward that best allows the School to continue to achieve its mission.
While all high-performing organizations like Westminster must evolve, there are certain fundamental principles on which this Board and the leadership team are in full concurrence. We are confident that these principles also represent the shared values of our entire community. While certainly not exhaustive, the following are among them.
Creating and maintaining a powerful sense of belonging and inclusiveness for all of our students and families is fundamental to fostering an atmosphere that maximizes academic excellence and adherence to our Christian mission.
Educating our students to think and analyze critically is essential to achieving academic excellence and requires that all student points of view expressed in a civil and respectful manner be encouraged and respected. While individuals will be encouraged to develop their own political and social views, the School teaches students to think critically at the highest level and does not advocate any particular political or social view.
The School is focused on ensuring that discussions of social issues are at an age-appropriate level.
All of the School’s programs are evaluated through the lens of these principles. Among these is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative that the Board unanimously approved and announced in June 2020, and to which we remain fully committed as a natural extension of the principles that have guided Westminster since its founding. Achievement of equity in the sense of belonging experienced by all students and their families in their Westminster journey remains one of the overriding goals of the School.
We will close as we began: Westminster is a remarkable place. President Keith Evans, his leadership team, and our faculty and staff are among the finest in the country. Every objective measure of school health (academic achievement, number of applications, annual re-enrollment rate, college admissions, donor generosity, and financial condition) places Westminster at or near the very pinnacle among peer schools nationally. Notwithstanding, we can and will be stronger and better as we continue to drive forward on these measurements, including the goals of inclusiveness and belonging for all.
Many thanks to all of you for the myriad ways you have contributed and will contribute to the success and community of Westminster.
The Westminster Board of Trustees
Dear Westminster Community,
Wildcats everywhere share an easily recognized mindset characterized by restless curiosity and readiness to engage. Dr. Pressly described this dynamic culture of Westminster as possessing a “wholesome intensity” that instills in students these habits of heart and mind. Given this uniquely prized quality of our community, a State of the School report for Westminster can only be created understanding that it represents a single milestone of a longer journey. This journey is always on a path toward more completely fulfilling the unrivaled potential of our School.
Consequently, this report is not intended to be conclusive. Further, in a school community with the breadth and complexity of Westminster, it cannot even be comprehensive. It is instead an effort to assemble in one place a range of metrics, markers, and indicators that take our measure: What can we discover about the Westminster experience today? What resources are being developed for now and in the future? How does a wider external community—of prospective students and parents or colleges and universities—engage with our School? To this end, we will share important indicators in areas such as admissions and academics, campus development, student support, and more.
You will also find a summary of key findings from last spring’s Climate and Culture Survey. This survey produced incredibly helpful feedback both for our work today and for future research phases ahead as we develop a plan to ensure that Westminster offers a powerful sense of belonging for all members of our community. You can find out more about this multistep assessment here. In the meantime, we invite you to share your ideas in response to the survey findings by joining a facilitated small-group discussion by signing up here.
One thing we can declare without qualification about the state of our School: We are blessed to welcome 1,900 bright, talented students to our campus each day. They come to us from nearly 80 zip codes around Atlanta and often arrive in our city from a distant point in the United States or a country well beyond our borders. They animate our rigorous curriculum and myriad programs with a broadly diverse array of life experiences and trademark enthusiasm.
No matter the day of the week or the season of the year, our calling is to do what Westminster has always done best—offer them a challenging, forward-looking academic experience in a supportive community inspired by the Christian faith. At the heart of this community will always be the willingness to see one another first with compassion, empathy, and abundant grace. In that commitment, we will realize the hope of the Psalmist to “go from strength to strength,” fulfilling the promise of our students and of Westminster.