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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Shonti Breisch receives her diploma from Westminster President Michael S. Bassis during graduation ceremonies Saturday, May 28, 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY — Westminster College announced Thursday that its president, Michael S. Bassis, will be retiring after serving 10 years as the head of Utah's largest private liberal arts college.

Bassis made the announcement before the college's board of trustees meeting in Park City. "My time at Westminster has been a highlight of my 40-year career in higher education," Bassis said in a released statement. "The faculty and staff have been amazing, embracing innovation and change, and pioneering new approaches to student learning."

Since joining Westminster in 2002, Bassis has focused on broader learning goals for students involving interdisciplinary learning. He has also required all students to put together electronic portfolios, as well as blending online learning with real-time faculty interaction.

Bassis will officially retire in July 2012. The board of trustees will immediately begin a national search for a replacement with the goal to have a new president selected by the summer of 2012.

"Nearly a decade later, the quality, vitality and reputation of the college has skyrocketed," said Bob Frankenberg, board of trustees chairman. "Michael has been a magnificent visionary and leader, and will be greatly missed."

Since 2002, Westminster has seen a 44 percent increase in student enrollment, 19 new undergraduate and nine graduate programs have been added, seven new facilities have been built, and partnerships have been established with seven international universities.

Westminster has ranked in the top 15 percent of colleges and universities in the U.S. by the Princeton Review.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com