Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Students backpacking

Wyoming Catholic College (WCC), only recently founded in 2005, is for pioneers. Nestled in a small town near the Wind River Mountain Range and the Pope Agie River, the Great Books college is perfect for nature and outdoor enthusiasts as well as those who want to stretch themselves intellectually in ways they never dreamed possible.

The founders’ statement, “Born in Wonder, Brought to Wisdom: The Philosophical Vision Statement of Wyoming Catholic College,” explains that WCC intends to educate the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—emphasizing seven key objectives: Catholic community, spiritual formation, liberal arts education, integrated curriculum, Great Books, immersion in the outdoors, and excellent teaching.

Students study a prescribed four-year program. This includes eight Catholic theology courses and five philosophy courses, as well as logic and rhetoric. Graduates all receive the same Bachelor of Arts degree.

StudentsThe College eschews the excessive use of technology in order to foster direct human contact and communication between students and faculty. One of the College’s trademarks is its Freshman Leadership Program, a three-week backpacking trip in the pristine Wyoming wilderness in August and a one-week winter adventure in January.

The lay-run, independent college has a strong connection to the local bishop, who ex officio will always be a member of the Board of Directors. The bishop appoints two of the members of the board of directors and can veto any move away from the College’s educational mission. The corporate structure requires that at least two-thirds of the board members be practicing Catholics, and at least two-thirds of the faculty and administrators be practicing Catholics. In reality, the portion is 100 percent.

There are a total of 14 full-time faculty members and two part-time instructors. In June 2013, Dr. Kevin Roberts assumed the mantle of president, succeeding founding president Father Robert Cook.  Roberts, a historian by training, founded and led a Cardinal Newman Society-awarded "Top 50 Catholic High School" before returning to his professional "home" of higher education.

Until the College is able to begin a permanent campus capital campaign, it uses buildings in downtown Lander, Wyoming, for classes, library, computer lab space, and student dining. An old hunting lodge adjacent to Lander City Park serves as the administration building, and the College uses Holy Rosary Catholic Church and parish for daily Mass and temporary residence halls.

The College has received pre-accreditation from the American Association for Liberal Education and is also pursuing accreditation with its regional accrediting agency.

Tuition, room and board, and books and materials are priced at $26,150 for 2013-14. However, the average student actually pays much less due to generous financial aid packages. Total enrollment is approximately 112 students, with a goal of 400 at the future permanent campus.


In addition to the theology and philosophy courses, students take nine courses in humanities; eight in trivium or grammar, logic, and written and oral rhetoric; four in Latin; two in art history and two in music; and three each in science and mathematics. Uniquely, students also take two courses in horsemanship. Honors courses in outdoor leadership and in Latin are also available.

StudyingThe goal is a classical education. According to Dr. Roberts, "Most important to us is that our students learn how to live a balanced life. By that, I mean that we want our students to graduate being able to find joy in learning, to think critically, and to present their thoughts clearly in speech and writing, all the while sustaining a robust list of pursuits that help build up God's Kingdom."

The added outdoor component offers hands-on leadership skills that build self-confidence. “Students learn how to choose a goal, plot how to get there, the food and equipment needed, resolving conflicts, teamwork, and handling things you never dreamed would happen, such as coming to a creek that’s too big to cross,” explained President Roberts. “Learning all of this is different from the theoretical study of leadership in a classroom.”

The 21-day orientation involves all incoming freshmen, split into two male and two female sections with their own chaplain, student leader, and two instructors from Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries (SROM) . SROM also works with students in risk-management training. All freshmen take a two-and-a-half day wilderness medical training course to learn how to manage injuries in the wild.

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are expected to go on at least two of four week-long outdoor courses that are offered each year. These consist of everything from white-water rafting and kayaking to canyoneering, to backpacking and mountain climbing and are built into the academic calendar so they do not conflict with class.

Another unique component of the Wyoming Catholic curriculum is a field-based science course during the sophomore year that includes botany, wildlife, astronomy, and geology.

Wyoming Catholic has a distinct conversational Latin program that uses an immersion style of teaching where only Latin is spoken in the classroom. It also offers a Great Books curriculum in which courses are a combination of lecture and Socratic discussion.

All faculty members must agree not to undermine Church teaching or Vatican authority and to support WCC’s spiritual vision. At the Convocation Mass each fall, Catholic faculty as well as the president, dean of students, and chaplains profess their faith and recite an Oath of Fidelity in the presence of the Bishop or his delegate. In addition, any faculty who teach theology are required to obtain the canon law mandatum.

Spiritual Life

MassHoly Rosary parish Mass is said at 8 a.m. daily. The College chaplaincy Masses are at noon and 9:15 p.m. An Ordinary Form Mass is celebrated in English with Gregorian chant at noon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. The Extraordinary Form is celebrated on Wednesday at noon, Saturday at 11 a.m., and Sunday at 8 a.m. (a sung High Mass). Occasionally, visiting clergy celebrate a fully-sung Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

Approximately 60 percent of students attend daily Mass, and all attend Sunday Mass. A sizeable number of students have expressed interest in a priestly or religious vocation.

The campus is served by two full-time chaplains, who celebrate Mass and hear confessions daily, and are available for spiritual direction throughout the week.

Eucharistic adoration is held at the parish Church every weekday afternoon. There are also a number of prayer groups, such as Rosary and Compline, as well as spirituality practicums – small groups of students that meet and discuss various spiritual classics.

Residential Life

Until the permanent campus is built, there are three women’s residences and three men’s residences located next door to Holy Rosary. In addition, there are two apartment buildings–one male, one female. On weeknights there is a 10:30 p.m. curfew; weekend curfew is midnight. Opposite-sex visitation is prohibited, as are drugs and alcohol. Complimentary laundry facilities are provided in the residence halls.

Because Wyoming Catholic is small, meal service is mandatory. In the dining hall, students get whatever is made that day, with options for allergen-sensitive individuals. A soup and salad bar is available.

The College has a unique technology policy. Cell phones and smart phones are prohibited. If students own cell phones, they are locked up with the prefect. Students traveling long distances are free to check out their phones. Every four students in the residence hall share their own cordless phone and answering machine. Students may not have personal televisions. Electronic devices are not permitted during class. Outside of public spaces, such as the library and computer lab, there is no personal use of the Internet. A number of computers are available for student use in the library and in the mail room.

Frassati Hall houses a student lounge, student-staffed coffee shop, mail room, general assembly hall used primarily as the cafeteria, and dedicated storage space for the College’s Outdoor Leadership Program.

The College has a three-tier dress code: formal, classroom, and casual dress. Classroom dress for men means a collared shirt with slacks or dress jeans. For women it means modest skirts or pants. Formal dress is for Sunday Masses and formal lectures: for men, a jacket and tie; for women, a dress or skirt. Appropriate casual dress is permitted at other times.

Lander is a thriving mid-size town with a population of 8,000. There are a number of hotels, banks and credit unions, restaurants, cafés, a hardware store, theater, Alco, Shopko, and grocery stores all located along the main thoroughfare.

The crime rate is well below the national average and reflects property, rather than violent, crime. However, one statistic that is well above the norm is snowfall; Wyoming winters provide for an abundance of outdoor sports, including skiing.

The town has an 81-bed Lander Valley Medical Center that is supplemented by the Riverton Memorial Hospital, about a half-hour away.

Access to Lander isn’t easy. Students typically fly into Salt Lake City or Denver. Riverton, only slightly larger than Lander, has a regional airport with daily flights into and out of Denver International Airport. Salt Lake City International Airport is five hours away. A reasonably priced shuttle service is offered to students at the beginning and end of the academic year.

Student Activities

KyakingStudent activities are developing, with significant emphasis on outdoor pursuits.

Students can join the Wyoming Catholic College Choir. Classic movie nights, dances, intramural sports, and informal social activities round out the free-time opportunities. There are four dances each year – in October, at Christmas, at Candlemas, and in the spring. There is a special day of prayer and festivity in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary as well as a special celebration of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, patroness of the College, in early February.

A variety of clubs have already sprung up on campus, including an Opera Society that makes an annual excursion to a live opera. On Sunday evenings, swing dancing is popular. There are also Latin immersion weekends and backpacking trips.

Students can use a high school gym for basketball and also participate in intramural or pickup games of volleyball, indoor soccer, football, rugby, softball, and ultimate Frisbee. They can also access a swimming pool, a rock climbing gym, and recreational facilities in town.

Students have been involved in various social projects: roadside ditch clean-up work, fasting during lunch on Friday to donate the meal money to Food for the Poor, traveling to a small parish church in Hudson once a month to provide music, and teaching classes to local fifth-graders.

Students participate annually in the March for Life in Cheyenne.

The Bottom Line

The motto of Wyoming Catholic College is “Wisdom in God’s Country.”

“We intend to do everything we can so that upon graduation, the students will leave stronger in the faith than when they came,” said Dr. Roberts.

This College is likely to appeal to students seeking a different kind of undergraduate experience. With its outdoor leadership and equestrian component, its unique immersion Latin program, its four-year double focus on humanities and sacred theology, and its strong emphasis on written and oral rhetoric, there’s no other Catholic college quite like it.

In the words of one faculty member, “The students who come now and in the next few years are going to be the co-creators, actively involved in something that is going to make a significant contribution to Catholic colleges in America.”

Quick Facts

Students: 112
Location: Lander, Wyoming
Founded: 2005
Majors: 1
Med. SAT: 1160
% Catholic: 98%
Med. H.S. GPA:
How Much? $25,500
tuition, room and board
For admitted & enrolled traditional undergrads


Join Wyoming Catholic Online:

Phone: 307-332-2930  Address: P.O. Box 750, Lander, WY 82520
Email: Send Admissions a question or comment
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President's Letter
Dear Parents and Prospective Students:

In a culture filled with despair and disorder, the students and faculty members of Wyoming Catholic College stand out as beacons of hope and authenticity.  The supernatural joy that pervades our community is palpable and infectious.  Many factors create it—such as living and studying in the midst of the stunning Wind River Mountains—but the foundation is, of course, our collective love for Jesus Christ, His Church, and His Truth.  This is the context in which we cultivate our passion for the three great transcendentals—truth, beauty, and goodness.

Truth is nurtured by our unique approach to the Catholic liberal arts tradition.  Using a “Great Books” approach that has formed some of the best minds and leaders in Western Civilization, WCC is unparalleled in the degree to which its academic programs are truly integrated, not only with each other, but also with our spiritual formation and outdoor leadership programs.  A vibrant, ongoing engagement with the “Great Conversation” ensues, resulting in our students’ impressive intellectual breadth and depth. 

Facilitating students’ quest for Truth is accentuated by WCC’s unique approach to forming their minds—by first immersing them in God’s “First Book,” nature.  Beauty captivates our students from their first day on campus, when they prepare for a three-week-long backcountry expedition, where they learn outdoor skills, deepen their faith, and hone their leadership ability.  Subsequent trips, both organized by the College and by students themselves, nurture our college community’s love for the beauty of Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West.   This is further cultivated by our required freshman course in horsemanship, and by our plans to do our own, tangible cultivation of crops and meat for our own consumption. 

Goodness, therefore, permeates every aspect of the WCC community.  Rooted in the Holy Eucharist, the most important aspect of our community’s goodness is its people.  Quite simply, if you are looking for a college experience that will spur your quest to know His Truth, enliven your desire to experience His beauty, and foster in you a goodness that can only be supernatural, then WCC would be an excellent fit.  

The formation you receive at Wyoming Catholic College will not only form you intellectually and spiritually, but will also enrich your life by cultivating a deep passion for the wonderment of God’s creation.  In short, to study at WCC is to know what it means to be fully alive and truly free!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Dr. Kevin D. Roberts

Information from Career Services Office
Graduate School Seminar (for Juniors and Seniors) - Each year members of the faculty and administration address upperclassmen on the value of graduate school, how to apply, and how to choose the right for them.  Breakout sessions afford students the opportunity to seek more detailed information in various fields of study.

Wyoming Career Fair - State industry leaders visit the campus each year to meet and visit with students interested in business-related careers, especially within the state of Wyoming.

Resume Workshop - Each year the College provides a workshop to help students craft a strong resume.

Individual career counseling is provided by the Dean of Student Life to each student to talk about post graduation plans. 

Information from Financial Aid Office
Wyoming Catholic College is committed to keeping our tuition and room and board costs affordable and making our program available to all qualified students. In this mission, our costs are significantly lower than most colleges.   WCC endeavors to meet the financial requirements of  each student through need-based scholarships, work study, and loans. Loan debt is kept to a minimum: the maximum student indebtedness after four years is $19,000.  Our most recent class average is $15,750.

Financial aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and all students are encouraged to apply early. Work study arrangements, as well as our merit-based Benedict XVI Fellowship Grants and Presidential Scholarships, further assist some students.  Over 80% of our students receive financial aid.

Students are strongly urged to apply for as many outside scholarships as possible. A wide range of opportunities exist for outside aid offered by businesses, service clubs, benevolent organizations, high schools, unions, and other groups.

At many colleges, outside scholarships simply reduce the amount of college financial aid offered to the student. Thus, it is often perceived that outside scholarships provide no cost-reduction to the student and his family. At WCC, the student’s financial aid is determined prior to the inclusion of outside scholarships. WCC then shares half of all such aid with students and their families to directly reduce their cost.  

For more information visit our website at, or call 877.332.2930.

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