Strengthening the Residential Experience at Westmont
In April 2016, the Westmont Board of Trustees authorized construction of a new residence hall and Leadership Center scheduled to open for the fall 2017 semester. For the past five years, President Beebe and others have worked hard to raise money for this new facility, funded entirely by donations. Preliminary work began in April with groundbreaking in May to complete construction by August 2017.
Westmont will finally house nearly all students on campus. Since 1976, Westmont’s Conditional Use Permit has limited the number of students living off campus because of increased traffic from the many round-trips commuting students make to the college each day.
The new facility, part of the Westmont Institute for Global Learning and Leadership, will house 140 students, primarily seniors who are leaders, scholars and former participants in off-campus study programs. Westmont will join leading liberal arts colleges in providing a four-year residential experience for all students. Nearly three-fourths of the top 25 liberal arts colleges nationwide require students to live on campus through their senior year.
Decades ago, when Westmont began planning a final residence hall, student life staff thought only of eliminating triple rooms. But feedback from students and alumni expressed surprising support for triples. Research also emerged about the benefits of the four-year residential experience. The college then decided to strengthen its commitment as a residential college and connective community by requiring students to live on campus for four years.
Westmont’s strong, caring, residential program includes students from a diversity of backgrounds who learn from each other. This faith-shaping culture creates enduring friendships, helps students thrive and contribute to society, and points to infinite possibilities. Extending its impact to four years will better prepare students for living and leading lives of significance after they graduate.
The Benefits of Living on Campus
- Significantly more interactions with peers, especially more diverse peers
- More frequent interactions with faculty and staff mentors
- Varied leadership opportunities for juniors and seniors as they get more involved in campus activities and mentor younger students
- Better grades and higher graduation rates
- Greater self-esteem
- Stronger sense of belonging
- Greater safety and security
- Quicker and more effective assistance and advocacy for students who experience emotional, physical and/or academic concerns
Mixed-Class Residential Communities
Implementing the four-year residential experience beginning in August 2017 also includes creating mixed-class residential communities. While Westmont’s traditional practice of housing first-year students exclusively in Page Hall or Clark Halls has built relationships among the incoming class, it has hampered students’ development later in their college career. The new approach, which integrates residence halls by class standing primarily in the first three years, will improve students’ overall residential experience by helping them form friendships with a broader student group.
Entering first-year students will become part of an established community and learn about navigating the college years from returning students. This mentoring can help new students better manage the challenges and difficulties they encounter in college.
Sophomores will no longer need to adjust to the completely different experience of a mixed-class hall. Student Life staff have discovered that sophomores may find it difficult to build relationships with people outside their class, which can affect all areas of their college life. Mixed-class halls will help them better build on the positive momentum and experience of their first year.
Juniors and seniors will encounter more formal and informal leadership opportunities, especially in mentoring younger students. They could live in the same residence hall for several years and develop and pass on meaningful traditions and hall-based activities. Those returning from off-campus programs will find an established residential community that welcomes them home.
For more information, see frequently asked questions.