College News

Endowing an Institute

Liberal Arts conferenceFletcher Jones Foundation provides crucial support for the institute for the liberal arts

The Fletcher Jones Foundation has given $500,000 to endow the Institute for the Liberal Arts at Westmont, the lead grant toward a $2 million goal.

Founded in 2000, the institute promotes the continued vitality of the liberal arts tradition in American higher education. Annual Conversations on the Liberal Arts bring together educators from colleges and universities nationwide.

“We are deeply grateful to the Fletcher Jones Foundation for supporting our commitment to the liberal arts,” President Stan D. Gaede said. “The institute fills a gap in American higher education by providing a forum for discussing the most fundamental questions facing the liberal arts tradition. Westmont seeks to create a hospitable place where participants can address these foundational issues with substance and meaning.”

“Through the work of the institute, Westmont has an opportunity to serve the larger world of higher education while sharpening our own educational vision,” Provost Shirley Mullen said.

“Given that it is fairly rare for foundations to provide funds for endowment, this gift from Fletcher Jones represents a vote of confidence in both Westmont and the institute,” she added. “We are well on our way toward building an endowment that will permanently fund the institute.”

The institute’s annual Conversations on the Liberal Arts have featured topics such as “Educating for Justice,” “Vocation, Vocationalism and the Liberal Arts” and “The Sciences as Liberal Arts.” Speakers have included leading scholars: liberal arts education champion Robert Erburu; historian of education Bruce Kimball; Cambridge literary scholar Dame Gillian Beer; Carnegie Foundation senior scholar William Sullivan; and Yale philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff. Participants have represented premier colleges and universities, including Yale, Georgetown, Emory, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, Pomona, Claremont McKenna and Occidental.

In 2002, the Fletcher Jones Foundation gave Westmont a $500,000 lead grant for state-of-the-art science equipment for the future David K. Winter Hall for the Sciences. Other gifts supported a student loan fund and provided science equipment and technology-related upgrades. Fletcher Jones, the co-founder of Computer Services Corp., established the foundation in 1969.

Sending Out the Class of 2005

Commencement speakers photographThe bagpipes, which have been growing louder, suddenly stop. The crowd quiets and looks toward the stairs, where 326 seniors have paused in their last walk from Kerrwood Hall to Carr Field. Children playing in the grass stop to watch them march to their seats, and parents line up to take photos. The 68th graduating class has arrived for Commencement in the morning sun, and the May 7 ceremony begins.

Class banners, faculty in academic gowns and graduates with flowers and decorated hats make the celebration colorful. The 35 Golden Warriors from the class of 1955 who join the procession represent the college’s heritage.

Graduates photographPhilosophy professor Robert Wennberg gives the address. Telling graduates they have been sent out into the world, he notes, “The quality of your life is to reflect the character of the One who has sent you.” He also suggests, “Connect with at least one organization outside the church that is doing good things.”

Ardis Higgins, who has committed her life to music and to education, receives the Westmont Medal for her volunteer activities.

The college also recognizes outstanding students and faculty. Joshua Cox (economics and business and communication studies), and Michelle Wolff (art history and religious studies), accept the prestigious Kenneth Monroe Award for academic achievement and leadership.

Graduate photographSarah Ledbetter (neuroscience and biology) wins the Faculty Scholarship Award for the highest GPA. Mike Yankoski (computer science) receives the Dave Dolan Award for his service to others. Kyle Bechler, a mathematics major and basketball player, and Katie Cates, a kinesiology major and soccer player, capture the Dean’s Award for the top scholar-athletes.

Bruce and Adaline Bare Outstanding Teacher Award recipients are Mary Docter (Spanish), Jeff Schloss (biology), and Karen Andrews-Jaffe (urban studies and English).

Citadel is Book of the Year

Westmont yearbook wins prestigious award

Naomi Shihab Nye photographThe 2004 Citadel, Westmont’s yearbook, won a Gold Crown Award for collegiate publications from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association at the 27th annual College Media Convention in March.

Of the 1,238 magazines, newspapers and yearbooks submitted for the contest, 11 newspapers, four magazines and four yearbooks received Gold Crown Awards. Publications were judged on writing and editing, design, concept, photography, art and graphics. The Gold Crown award represents the top 2 percent of college media.

Under the direction of co-editors Megan Gierhart ’05 of Palo Alto, Calif., and Julia Hoerauf ’05 of Villa Park, Calif., the entire Citadel staff worked countless hours to create and produce this outstanding book. Section editors were: Gloria Tebelman ’07 of Vista, Calif (features); Cassandra Lea ’06 of Port Ludlow, Wash. (people); Emilee Hurlbert ’06 of Bakersfield, Calif. (activities); Rachel Wolfshorndl ’07 of Chowchilla, Calif. (dedications); and Meredith Bagdazian ’05 of Poway, Calif. (copy). Chris Humphreys ’04 of Carpinteria, Calif., contributed extraordinary photos. Gierhart and Hoerauf also edited the 2005 Citadel.

“We wanted to produce a book that had a classic feel — something that could sit on a coffee table for years,” Gierhart said. “We wanted to cover everything from student activities to world events. This way, when we look back on 2004, we will remember Westmont activities as well as local and global events such as the Vons’ strike and the war in Iraq.”

Yearbooks from Kansas State University, Harding University in Arkansas and the University of Miami, Coral Gables, also won Gold Crown awards.

The Citadel also won Best of Show for yearbooks under 299 pages from the annual Associated College Press Convention in Nashville, Tenn., in November 2004.

Visible Help for the Invisible

About 100 students fast and pray for children in Sudan and Uganda

As she watched the documentary “Invisible Children,” Danae Jacobson ’06 felt compelled to do something about the abuse and enslavement of children in Sudan and Uganda. So did Sara Truppo ’06. In fact, both students came up with the same idea: call the Westmont community to fast and pray for the tragedy in Africa.

Through the Leadership II class, the women created the ministry Invisible Children and organized a 40-hour fast during the spring. “Danae and I wanted to see Westmont united in prayer and fasting for the children, leaders, rebels and aid organizations involved,” Sara says.

About 100 students joined them, wearing purple strings and encouraging and supporting each other. A passage from Isaiah 58: 6-9 became their theme: “Is this not the fast that I chose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke?”

“At first, I wondered what a fast would accomplish since we wouldn’t be raising money,” Danae says. “But I have been learning a lot about the incalculable worth of prayer. I wanted to see what God would do when some of his people gathered together, gave up eating a few meals and prayed.

“I believe the fast changed things in Uganda, although we may never know that,” she says. “I also think it changed the people who participated. A lot of us haven’t had much experience with fasting and praying in our churches. Most people I talked to learned to depend on God in new ways and to deeper capacities. I know I realized so many ways that I depend on other things (aside from God) for satisfaction throughout each day.

“I am excited to see how God continues working in our lives when we obey Him and sacrifice a bit,” Danae says. “I think it helped a lot of people be more aware of what we can do for those who suffer.”

Team Westmont

I Madonnari photograph Instructor Scott Anderson and the students from his Mayterm drawing class created a chalk painting for Santa Barbara’s annual I Madonnari festival at the mission in May. Ben Caldwell, Katie Robison, Paula Berry and Molly Magnuson joined him in portraying Pablo Picasso standing in front of one of his paintings, “Jeune fille devant un miroir.” Pitts & Bachman sponsored the square.

In Brief

Students stage polite sit-in

When the faculty personnel committee declined to renew the contract of a Westmont sociology professor, a group of students actively expressed their disappointment. They circulated a petition, asked friends to wear green shirts in support of the teacher and conducted a two-hour sit-in in Kerrwood Hall in April. The Santa Barbara News-Press and the local television station covered the event. Rather than chanting slogans or disrupting business, the students read or worked quietly on their laptops. They used their presence and a thoughtfully written statement to make their point with faculty and administrators.

Until they receive tenure, faculty remain on probation and undergo regular reviews by their peers. Professors with tenure enjoy significant job security, so the faculty personnel committee considers tenure decisions carefully and deliberately.

The sociology professor is one of seven faculty of color on campus, and some students, faculty and staff expressed concern about the loss of diversity. While Westmont is attracting an increasing number of students and staff of color, efforts to recruit a more diverse faculty have been less successful. Last year, the college made offers to three candidates of color, but two accepted positions at research universities. This year, one of the six new professors is a person of color.

Faculty search committees will continue to recruit candidates of color and seek ways to increase the diversity of the faculty.

Warrior Sports Notes

For up-to-date news about the Westmont Warriors, see the Web site: www.westmont.edu/sports.

Italian street photoRoman Holiday

Two Westmont professors share their love of Italy during an alumni tour

They represented every decade of Westmont alumni since 1950. One hasn’t finished college yet; a number are grandparents. The 35 alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends who visited Italy in May included a surpris-ing variety of ages, backgrounds and interests.

View of VeniceBut the group agreed on one thing: the value of traveling with Provost Shirley Mullen and Professor Bob Wennberg. The duo has led 10 tours, mostly with students. This, their tenth, was also their last together due to Bob’s retirement. In addition to providing historical background, they raised provocative issues for discussion and contemplation.

Staci Phillips Wiemelt '92 and Amy Meyer '96 photo“One of our lasting memories will be the wonderful sense of camaraderie and fellowship.”

Landing in Rome, the travelers explored the ancient city and moved on to Tuscany and San Gimignano, Pisa and Florence. Then came Venice and a hotel on the Grand Canal. The tour ended on Lake Como in the lovely towns of Varenna and Bellagio.

Italian group photo“One of our lasting memories of our Italian adventure will be the wonderful sense of camaraderie and fellowship we experienced with our fellow travelers,” Nancy Hewitt says. She and her husband, Carey, live in Fort Collins, Colo., and are the parents of two Westmont graduates. “I loved the diversity of age, interests, backgrounds and education — and the bond we found in our Christian faith,” she adds. “We got a glimpse of the Body of Christ, celebrating our commonality and wonderful differences and truly enjoying them. The discussions each day were deep and meaningful — we’re still wondering whether all the money used in building St. Peter’s should have been given to the poor! Shirley and Bob brought so much to our group through sharing their knowledge and passions."

The Right Chemistry

For the past six years, gifted high school chemistry students have come to Westmont to compete in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad. The American Chemical Society sponsors the annual exam. Westmont Professor Allan Nishimura belongs to the California Los Padres section and facilitates the olympiad.

During the first round, close to 200 students from 11 local high schools took a qualifying test. The top 10 traveled to Westmont April 16 for a five-hour exam that included multiple-choice questions, a written response and a lab question. For the latter, students had to devise an experiment to solve the problem. The Los Padres section awarded $500 to the chemistry teacher whose student scored the highest in the national exam. An anonymous Westmont donor has also given prize money. The top student received $250, the next highest, $150, and the third-place finisher took home $100.

A panel at the ACS DivCHED Examination Institute graded the exam and selected 20 students for a study camp at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado in June. The top four compete with finalists from 60 countries in Taiwan in July.

Print | E-mail to a Friend