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Westmont College
955 La Paz Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Office: (805) 565-6007
Fax: (805) 565-7006

Faculty Development at Westmont

The Goals of our Faculty Development Program

Faculty professional development at Westmont takes many forms, focusing on a range of concerns, from teaching to disciplinary research to more general intellectual growth.  The Provost’s Office provides resources and encouragement to faculty in the pursuit of these interests.  Some resources support scholarly research and participation in disciplinary guilds.  Other funds seek to foster conversations and collaborative projects with Westmont colleagues.  In all these activities, we seek to nurture a creative community of faculty, whose individual scholarship and teaching are enriched by engagement with one other.

Quick Links to Program Descriptions

Sabbaticals (due Oct. 1)  
Professional Development Grants (due Nov. 1) Professional Development Account
Teaching, Research, and Reading Groups (due Oct. 1)

Innovative Edges Grant (due Feb. 15)

Library Cubicles (due Sep. 1, Jan. 10) Interdisciplinary Conversations

Reimbursements To be reimbursed for expenses, submit receipts, an itemized expense list, and a reimbursement request to the Provost's Office. Please provide all documents in the form of 8.5x11-inch pdfs or paper. If submitting requests electronically, please emai them to Jaron Burdick (


Please email reports on sabbatical and professional development grants within three months of completing the sabbatical or grant period. Reports should briefly describe activities and summarize the goals achieved. Please email reports to Eileen McQuade (

Past reports are available here:

Sabbatical Reports

Professional Development Grant Reports

Program Descriptions

Teaching, Research, and Reading Groups (applications due October 1)

These groups consist of three to five faculty who meet together to support one another’s teaching, scholarship, and general intellectual growth.  A teaching group would explore or experiment with a pedagogical practice, perhaps seeking to make use of a “flipped” approach to the classroom or experimenting with a particular technological tool.  Members of a research group share works-in-progress with one another, providing feedback on a drafts, helping think through gaps in an argument, or suggesting questions or resources that might enhance the project.  Reading groups select one or more books of common interest and meet to discuss them. 

Each group will receive $1000 to spend on expenses related to its activities.  Groups may, for example, purchase books, share meals, travel to a nearby conference together, or organize a mini-retreat. They are encouraged to plan some means of sharing the results of t heir time together with the wider Westmont community. 

Groups are free to shape their own goals and the structure of the group’s meetings, but should commit to meeting at least four times.  Preference will be given to groups that draw faculty from more than one department.

To apply for funding, submit an application (.docx) to the Professional Development Committee via Eileen McQuade.

The committee will begin reviewing proposals October 1. Groups will be notified of approval within three weeks of submitting proposals.

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Sabbaticals (applications due October 1)

A sabbatical leave is an investment by the College in the quality of instruction and scholarship of the faculty.  It also provides a time of renewal for the faculty member.

Subject to approval of the Professional Development Committee, the Provost, the President, and the Board of Trustees, tenured faculty are eligible for a sabbatical after six years (or equivalent) of full-time service since initial appointment or the most recent sabbatical. Faculty on multi-year contracts are eligible for their first sabbatical during the ninth year of employment, after completing three consecutive multi-year contract periods. Thereafter, they are eligible subject to the conditions specified for tenured faculty. Faculty are eligible to apply for a semester-long sabbatical at full pay, or a year-long sabbatical at half pay.

Further information about the sabbatical policy is available in the Faculty Handbook in section

To apply, submit an application (docx) to the Professional Development Committee via Eileen McQuade.

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Professional Development Grants (applications due November 1)

Professional Development Grants support scholarly and curricular projects.  Categories for projects are described below.  Approximately 14 grants of $3600 each are made each year. Applicants will be notified of decisions by January 10. Funds from grants are available (as stipends or expense reimbursements) beginning May 15, and should be spent by May 30 of the following year, unless otherwise arranged through the Provost’s Office.

Application Form

Research Grants support faculty scholarship that leads to publications in peer-reviewed journals, monographs, and textbooks.  Grants can be used for direct research expenses, summer stipend, or, in certain cases, for release time. 

Artistic Production Grants enable faculty to pursue significant projects connected with their professional artistic work (visual arts, theater, music).  Typically, those projects would result in a public performance or exhibit.  Grants can be used for direct research expenses, summer stipend, or, in certain cases, for release time.

Faculty/Student Research Grants support research that involves a student apprentice in significant scholarly activity conducted collaboratively by the faculty member and the student. These grants are intended for students outside the sciences and cover a summer fellowship stipend for the student. In the application, faculty should identify the student and describe how the student's contribution will go beyond the work of a research assistant and involve the student in research that contributes significantly to her education.

Curricular Enhancement Innovation Grants  aid in the development of innovative new pedagogical approaches into existing or new courses and curricular innovations.   The innovations should be designed to lead to an enhanced learning experience for students with a focus on clear learning outcomes.  Funding may be used to provide access to hardware and software, summer stipends, opportunities to attend conferences or workshops related to the innovationenhancement, or, in certain cases, for release time.  New courses developed through these grants will be subject to the standard faculty approval process.  The financial and curricular impact of offering new courses will be reviewed by the department chair and the provost before new courses can be scheduled.

Grant-writing stipends support faculty in their pursuits of external funding.  These will primarily be used to support faculty summer stipends but also can be used toward faculty development, research, and the generation of preliminary data to strengthen the grant application.  In certain cases, release time may be considered.

Guidelines for Use of Grants for Release Time Grant proposals requesting that funding be used for release time should explain why the requested teaching reduction is appropriate for the proposed project, and explain why more intensive work over a semester is important (compared to the normal pace of regular scholarship expected of all faculty).  Include a work plan that provides evidence of your ability to complete the proposed project during the semester in which the release time is taken. 

To apply, submit an application to the Professional Development Committee via Eileen McQuade.

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Professional Development Account

Annual Allotments Full-time faculty receive $500 per year to use for memberships in professional organizations, journal subscriptions and travel to professional conferences.  Up to $1000 may be carried over to the next year. 

Supplementary Funds Up to $1000 per year of additional money is available to full-time faculty for travel expenses to conferences at which the faculty member is reading a paper, leading session, or participating as a member of an organizational ruling body.  Supplementary funds cannot be carried over to the next year.

Extraordinary Funds A limited amount of money is available for faculty who wish to take advantage of an extraordinary opportunity to participate in a professional activity and need funds beyond the amounts described above.  To apply, submit a one-page proposal to the Professional Development Committee (via the Vice Provost).  Include a brief description of the conference or activity, how you plan to participate, and an explanation of why this opportunity is extraordinary.  The proposal should also provide a brief account of how your annual allotment of professional development funds and your supplementary funds are being used.  Please indicate a date by which you must know whether extraordinary funds can be made available to you.

Reimbursements To draw on the funds, submit receipts, an itemized expense list, and a reimbursement request to the Provost's Office. Please provide all documents in the form of 8.5x11-inch pdfs or paper. Please do not tape or staple smaller receipts to 8.5x11-inch paper.

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Library Cubicles

Available on a semester-by-semester basis, cubicles provide a private study space in Voskuyl Library.  The Professional Development Committee reviews applications September 1 (fall), January 10 (spring), and May 9 (summer) and continues until cubicles are filled. Applicant Applications forms are available here:

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Innovative Edges Grant (applications due February 15)

All academic disciplines undergo continual change, as knowledge expands, new theories and methodologies emerge, and scholars venture across disciplinary boundaries. Liberal arts colleges face the challenge of sustaining majors that focus on the essential content and praxis of their academic fields, while remaining alert to the innovative edges in the disciplines. We do not want to let our curricula spiral into endless sub-specialties, even as we need to ensure that our students are aware of the disciplinary advances that they will encounter in graduate school and in professional endeavors.

The Innovative Edges grant provides some funds each year (up to $4000) to departments that will be committed to revising one or more of the required courses in the major to address innovations in the disciplines. The development of entirelynew courses that would replace current courses or fit within departmental teaching loads can also be considered. Grants can be used as stipends to support the time and effort needed for the revisions, and they can be used to support some of the activities related to the revision. For instance, a faculty member may choose to attend special workshops or conferences, audit courses, travel to consult with experts, or purchase reading materials or other resources. The proposed revisions can concentrate on the content of the curricula or on pedagogy. Some projects may undertake revisions based on their Six-year Reviews or the advice of external evaluators.

A grant proposal should be written by the chair and addressed to Eileen McQuade and the Professional Development Committee and should include the following:

  • A one-page summary of the project. What course or courses will be
    considered for refinement? What are the new dimensions or innovative
    edges that are being explored? Who will be the faculty engaged with the
  • A short budget, identifying how the funds will be spent. What activities will
    the grant support? How much (if any) will be taken as stipend (and by
  • A short (one-paragraph) timetable, identifying when the project will be
    completed and who is responsible for which parts of the project.
  • A copy of the current syllabus for any course being proposed for refinement.
    Upon completion of the project, the department will be required to submit a onepage
    summary of the work done and a copy of any revised syllabus. Expense
    reimbursements can be submitted to the Provost’s Office as they occur; stipends will
    be paid after submission of the final summary and syllabi.

Grant applications are due by February 15.

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Interdisciplinary Conversations

As we continue to look for ways to expose students to the richness of the liberal arts, we want to encourage some interdisciplinary dialogues in our existing courses.  As part of this effort, we invite you to find a colleague in another department who would spend at least two class sessions in your course conversing with you about a relevant topic and modeling for the students the ways that faculty who bring different perspectives to an issue talk together.

Faculty who engaged in these interdisciplinary conversations in spring 2016 included Don Patterson and Felicia Song who engaged the Computer Science senior seminar on questions about the different ways that sociologists and computer scientists approach the issues surrounding digital advertising. Chris Milner invited Mary Docter to join her Special Populations class, which included students who had studied with Mary in the Westmont in Mexico program. They considered how the concept of "locus of control"—common in American psychological discourse—is seen differently when viewed through a lens of cultural anthropology. Lisa DeBoer joined Caryn Reeder's Church in the New Testament class, and she brought along the recent Nairobi document on church and culture; that led into a conversation on church architecture, art, and worship, and how theology gets formed in the intersection of these areas.

We would like to sponsor five to ten collaborations this year.  The guest faculty member receives $200 stipend when the collaboration is complete.  To apply, the host faculty member should send a brief description of the conversation to Eileen McQuade.  Include:

  • The course in which the conversation will occur;
  • The faculty member you plan to partner with;
  • The topic of the conversation, including readings or other material on which it will be based;
  • The approximate dates of the conversation (e.g., late October).

At the conclusion, please send a brief report of the experience that includes the dates of the class visits, a summary of the topics covered, and a few highlights from the conversations.

The stipend to the guest faculty member will be issued upon submission of the report.

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