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Michael S. Bassis, PhD

Micheal Bassis


by Kevin Randall (MSC ’22)

It is with sincere gratitude we remember the enduring legacy of Dr. Michael S. Bassis, former president of Westminster University. Dr. Bassis died January 9, 2024, surrounded by his daughters. Dr. Bassis was the 16th president of Westminster University, serving for 10 years between 2002 and 2012.

At the time of his passing, Dr. Bassis lived in Springfield, Virginia. He moved there in the summer of 2023 to be close to his beloved wife, Mary. A memorial service will be held in Alexandria, Virginia, in July 2024.

During his time as president of Westminster, Dr. Bassis transformed experiential-learning opportunities for students and had a significant impact on the physical campus. He emphasized co-curricular learning through various centers, sports teams, and service-learning opportunities, reminding us that student learning occurs both in and out of the classroom. He also oversaw the creation of stunning new buildings and gathering spaces for students like the Dolores Doré Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center.

An authority on educational change and an active participant in the national conversation on the future of higher education, Dr. Bassis had a wide range of experiences as a teacher, scholar, and administrator over his 30-year career in higher education. Following his appointment at Westminster in July 2002, Dr. Bassis embarked on a comprehensive strategic-planning process that resulted in the development of a new, innovative, and ambitious 10-year strategic plan for the university. Dr. Bassis also led the institution in creating 19 undergraduate and nine graduate programs.

In addition to education, Dr. Bassis had a passion for providing students with more opportunities in athletics.

“He was instrumental in the startup of the men’s lacrosse program in 2005 when the Dolores Doré Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center and Dumke Field opened. Initially, men’s lacrosse was a club program that eventually evolved into a varsity NCAA II program. This emphasis on athletics also led to the establishment of women’s lacrosse as a club and eventual varsity NCAA II program,” says Shay Wyatt, director of athletics.

Chris Wharton, a Westminster alum who served as student body president in 2005–2006, and who now serves on the Salt Lake City Council, remembers that Dr. Bassis made an effort to ensure that the entire campus community felt appreciated.

“He used to give out these colorful glass stars to every student, staff, and faculty member who finished a challenging project or accomplished something meaningful for the university. Over time, these stars started appearing in offices, classrooms, and other places around campus,” Chris says. “It was a great way to recognize the hard work of everyone who helped make Westminster a success. I still have the green star he gave me.”

Steve Morgan was president of Westminster University from 2015-2018, but held other roles at Westminster for over 30 years prior. Steve credits Dr. Bassis with his success as president.

“Michael Bassis really cared about building his team and put in the effort to know every team member on a personal level. He helped people achieve their full potential by recognizing and nurturing their individual talents,” Steve says. “I owe him a lot for taking a chance on me and for encouraging me to keep advancing in my career, even when I doubted myself. His mentorship allowed me to confidently step into the role of president.”

Dr. Bassis is survived by his wife, Mary, as well as his four children: Betsy Bassis, Christina Bassis, Jessica Roth, and Nicholas Bassis. Michael also leaves behind eight grandchildren, two sisters, and a loving extended family.



About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.