Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson became Westminster College’s 15th president on July 1, 2016.
Before coming to Westminster College, Richardson was provost and professor of communication at Berry College, Mt. Berry, Georgia. Richardson is an accomplished academic and impactful teacher, receiving many accolades including top faculty teaching, scholarship and leadership awards.
A highly regarded scholar, Richardson co-authored Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning, which is now in its 11th edition, and Applied Public Relations: Cases in Stakeholder Management, in its 3rd edition. Richardson served as editor of Journalism and Communication Monographs and was co-editor of the National Forensic Journal.
She is a member of the editorial board of Mass Communication & Society and the Journal of Mass Media Ethics. Richardson has published journal articles and book chapters in media ethics, product promotion, visual imagery, communication pedagogy and student-press regulation. In 2014, she was recognized as the Alumna Scholar of the Year by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Georgia.
Richardson is a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and has served as head of the Mass Communication and Society Division. In 2012, she received the Professor of the Year award from the Small Programs Division of AEJMC.
She is serving as the 2021-22 Chair of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania. A member of the Board of Directors of the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce, she is a member of the Executive Committee of the Forward Lawrence initiative.
Dr. Richardson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Religion/Philosophy, summa cum laude, from Shorter College, a master’s degree in journalism and a doctorate in mass communication from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. She completed additional graduate coursework in communication at the University of Oklahoma.
She is married to Dr. Randy Richardson and has two adult stepchildren, Ashton and Lauren.
Dear Friends of Westminster College:
Randy and I are blessed to live in the Mack Manse, the president’s home that was built in 1951 on what was known as Furnace Hill. With each season, what one can see from the back yard of the house changes in beautiful ways, with views framed to the south by the trees of the College Woods. To the north, the U.S. and campus flags fly high above the tower of Old Main, a Westminster landmark with its own beauty. Directly east, you see the back of Jeffers Hall and parts of Hillside Hall, with the hills that lead to Volant rising in the distance. The lights from the stadium and the UPMC Sports Complex offer a lovely glow in the evenings, sometimes accompanied by the sounds of cheering or marching band rehearsals. Across the valley, spring brings the light greens of new growth, summer the fullness of mature trees, autumn a breathtaking array of gold, red and brown, and then the lightness of winter as trees lose their leaves. Regardless of the season, the vista reminds visitors and us of Westminster’s lasting beauty in its distinctive setting.
I often wonder about the members of the Shenango and Ohio presbyteries who founded Westminster in January 1852. What would they think of the campus and the College if they could see it from the vantage point we enjoy today? Their founding vision was extraordinary as they resolved to work together to open only the second college in Pennsylvania between the Ohio River and Lake Erie, a college with a strikingly unique openness as described in the first Catalog: “No person will be refused admission on account of Color, Caste, or Sex. …every student of different religious sentiments shall enjoy full liberty of conscience as to place and mode of public worship.” The College offered its male, female and minority students not only a classical bachelor of arts option, but also an “English and Scientific Course” designed to prepare school teachers and others for professions that didn’t require the traditional classical education, which soon grew into a bachelor of science degree. They even approved offering some high school classes to help prepare students for admission to the College. Such a vision was designed to support not only growth for the College, but also growth in the leadership of the region’s churches, schools, professions and businesses.
Theirs was a resilient vision as well. The Westminster Story, written by W. Paul and Richard H. Gamble, details the challenges of the early years—the fire that destroyed the College’s only building in February of 1861, the financial challenges that led to salary reductions for the faculty, the departure of some male students for service in the Union Army. But it also details the ways in which the institution persevered and moved into seasons of growth, with the formation of a baseball team in 1884 that launched Westminster’s athletic tradition and the birth of literary societies in the 1880s that offered drama and speech activities. Music groups were formed; The Holcad student newspaper began publication; worship and service to others were an integral part of campus life. By its 50th anniversary, the College had developed strength, ready to fulfill the vision of its founders amid the inevitable changes of the 20th century. Committed faculty and staff, dedicated leadership, talented students, and loyal alumni made growth and expansion possible, even as the College traversed the challenges of two World Wars, the Great Depression, and cultural changes. Classroom buildings, residence halls, athletic facilities, and arts spaces were added to campus—even a beautiful lake!
As we look forward to celebrating the 170th year of the College in 2022, we are proud of the ways in which Westminster has built upon its visionary founding. The original bachelor of arts and sciences degrees now include a bachelor of science in nursing and bachelor of music programs as well as master’s degrees in education, counseling and business administration. In the midst of the pandemic, students are attending classes, conducting research, making friends, and performing and competing while faculty and staff are teaching, mentoring, coaching and supporting. They now proudly view a campus revitalized to support teaching, learning and growth with an expanded Hoyt Science Center, updated technologies, new and improved athletic facilities, renovated residence halls, a small recital hall, a Center for Entrepreneurship, and an Academic Success Center. How our founders would marvel, and, I think, rejoice in how their vision for a college that would serve this region well has endured and deepened. What a view!
On behalf of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, I offer this anniversary wish, taken from the Alma Mater: “Long may she live, our Mother Fair, Westminster! … Glorious, grand and true!” I hope you’ll have the opportunity over the coming year to offer Mother Fair your warm wishes at an event or at Homecoming 2022.
Celebrating 170 years and beyond—
Dr. Kathy B. Richardson
President of Westminster College