College Opens Academic Year with New President; Same Extraordinary Vision
For the past sixteen years, Wyoming Catholic College has launched her students into the Fall semester with a Convocation Mass and a formal Matriculation Ceremony. This year, the day was marked by many of the same traditions that have marked it since the College’s opening in 2007. But there was a distinctly new flavor to the proceedings as well: At the afternoon’s Matriculation, Professor Kyle Washut formally accepted the role of President, becoming the fourth in the College’s history.
Washut, a Wyoming native who has been with the College since its inception, was named to the position earlier this month. Growing up in Casper, Wyoming, he worked in nuclear missile silos and coal mines during his teenage years, receiving an AA in Political Science and a second in Spanish from Casper College in 2003. While in Casper, he studied under two of WCC’s eventual founders, Dr. Robert Carlson and Fr. Robert Cook, and began his journey toward Wyoming Catholic by serving as a dishwasher at the annual Wyoming School for Catholic Thought, where the idea for the College was first proposed. He served as the College’s the inaugural Assistant Dean for Student Life until departing in the Fall of 2009 to pursue a graduate degree in Sacred Theology, eventually returning as a full-time professor in early 2012. Washut has taught across the curriculum since his return, and was named Academic Dean in 2019—a position which he held for the four years leading up to his selection as President.
His accepting of the presidential reins took place in a brief ceremony at the beginning of Matriculation itself, when the College’s third President, Dr. Glenn Arbery, entrusted the formal matricula—the registry book that every student must sign when becoming a student at Wyoming Catholic—to Professor Washut. “For the past seven years,” he said, “I have been privileged to serve as president of this unique institution and to speak and write on its behalf. Today, as I step down from the Presidency of Wyoming Catholic College and return to the ranks of her professors, I entrust the register to my successor. It is the physical representation of all those who call her alma mater and a manifestation of the great and enduring good that is being done within her halls of learning. President Washut will draw strength from its pages, as these names remind him of the important work God has begun here and which God will surely bring to completion.”
In his remarks, delivered immediately after Dr. Arbery spoke, President Washut called upon the students of the College to embrace the challenges before them as a vital part of the Wyoming Catholic experience. “God has drawn you to these mountains for the same reason that He has always gathered His people in the wilderness,” Washut said. “God calls His people to the desert mountain to receive a radically-liberating education.”
Detailing just how radical (and how liberating) their time in Lander will be, President Washut drew a parallel between the Israelites in Egypt and the young men and women before him. “This education will demand that we give up certain attachments. The Israelites had to endure the loss of the flesh pots of Egypt before they could see how attached they were to pagan habits. They had to turn off the habits of the culture that had infiltrated their minds, before they could be freed not just exteriorly, but interiorly from Egypt. So, too, we need to break from the noise and cultural habits that hide our own ignorance from us. The inundating drone of ubiquitous screens fills our lives with such busy-ness and distraction that we are not even able to hear the still small voice, whispering to us in the wilderness.”
A particularly striking example of the College’s unique poetic character occurred halfway through Washut’s speech, when he intoned the opening line of William Wordsworth’s “The World Is Too Much With Us” and the entire audience of students took it up, reciting it loudly and enthusiastically through to its conclusion.
“Be transformed,” Washut closed his exhortation, “so that you may come to perceive the glory of God’s truth, beauty, and goodness reflected in His creation and His revelation, and carried in your own minds. But, like the great wandering cowboys of the Westerns, you’re not here to stay; you’re just ‘passin’ through.’ These four years at Wyoming Catholic College are part sanctuary and part retreat, but they are also part outpost, a stopping place on your journey back to the towns, back to radiate the light that has transfigured your mind into a world that desperately needs it.”
The ceremony concluded with the forty-seven members of the Class of 2027 inscribing their names in the matricula and being welcomed into the Wyoming Catholic College community by their fellow students, along with the College’s professors, staff, and their families. This class brings the College’s student body to 193, the largest in its history.