Warm enough for you? At least the first week of class was cooler than the First Walk. The home opener for the women's volleyball team may have been muggy in the gym, but they cruised to win their sixth straight match. Perhaps you have read the story about the massive migration of red crabs, usually found in Mexican waters, up to the Channel Islands this summer—a sure sign, they say, of warmer ocean currents and the onset of another El Niño. Maybe we will soon enjoy the renewal of rain.
It has been an invigorating summer for many. Eight students went with Gregg Afman to England to conduct research at the University of Bath. Kirsten Moore and the women's basketball team played, served, and learned together in Uganda. Two of our First-Year Seminars fit in adventure trips during August, including Danny Clapp's canoeing trek on the Colorado River. Several of the students who stayed in town and devoted much of their summer to the lab will showcase their work at the annual Celebration of Summer Research (September 25, 3:30-4:30, Winter Hall).
In the middle of the summer I spent a few days in a South American winter, as I took my sons on a journey to Peru. Before we headed up into the Andes, Tito Paredes graciously hosted us at his graduate center in Lima. I have closed this report with some reflections on those days, in part as a glimpse into Tito’s good work there, and in part as another chance to ponder why the liberal arts matter.
Augustine speaks of the heart that is "unquiet" until it rests in God, but is joyful in the pursuit. I trust that both the disquiet and the joy will be renewing for you this semester.
WELCOME ROSEMARY MAIONE
All of us in the Provost’s Office are delighted that Rosemary Maione joined us as our executive assistant in June. On her very first day on the job, I discovered that Rosemary already had numerous friends at Westmont. And she is quickly making many more. To help the campus get to know her better, Rosemary has consented to let me ask her a few questions:
You and I share some connections to the North Shore of Boston, where you were raised and where I spent 16 years. What are your favorite memories about that region?
Every summer, we rented a house at the beach as did some of my large Sicilian extended family. I spent hours playing with my cousins at the beach or riding our bikes around the beach neighborhood. We had bonfires on the beach with clambakes and lobsters. It is a wonderful childhood memory for me. [continue reading]
THE WSCUC (THE GROUP FORMERLY KNOWN AS WASC) REPORT
As Bill Wright announced a couple weeks ago, we just submitted Westmont’s institutional report for our reaccreditation by the WASC Senior Commission of Universities and Colleges (WSCUC). The report represents a collaborative effort by many writers, full of echoes of advice from all over the campus. Much of the report covers the assessment work led by Tatiana Nazarenko, and it also features more philosophical reflections on the "meaning, quality, and integrity" of a Westmont degree. We owe Bill a debt of gratitude for pulling it all together. He harnessed thousands of editorial suggestions, built about one hundred hyperlinks, and listened patiently as Patti Hunter and I debated the merits of semi-colons, ellipses, and Oxford commas.
Here’s where the trail leads in the days ahead. Later next month the WSCUC evaluation team will hold an off-site discussion of our report, which ends with a conference call on October 29 with Gayle Beebe and selected Westmont colleagues. At that time, our evaluators will identify the principal “Lines of Inquiry” that they have chosen to pursue during their on-site review of Westmont on March 1-3. Most likely, these "Lines of Inquiry" will require us to produce additional narrative and supporting documents during the months of November, December, and January. So, if you are suffering from a little FOMO—fear of missing out on accreditation work—be assured that we may still come your way asking for help during the winter!
Two projects are underway this fall that have been funded by grants from the Lilly Endowment and the Council of Independent Colleges’ Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE). One grant enlarges our resources for speakers and workshops devoted to women’s leadership. As part of the NetVue series, four women will be speaking in chapel over the course of the year about their careers and callings. The first, alumna Brittany Stringfellow-Otey, will be on campus September 25. She teaches at Pepperdine's law school and directs the university's legal aid clinic, overseeing law students who support clients in the homeless shelters of Los Angeles. With the second NetVUE grant, Westmont will host a conference in November focused on promoting partnerships within institutions to provide comprehensive guidance to students as they prepare for a successful post-college launch. Andy Chan, vice president for personal and career development at Wake Forest University, will serve as the keynote speaker. To participate in either of these projects, contact Patti Hunter.
RICK POINTER REACHES 50 (REVIEWS, THAT IS)
Rick Pointer served as a co-editor for the current theme issue of the Christian Scholar's Review on "The Nuclear Age at 70." He also published a review of Emma Anderson's The Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs in Church History. Rick has now published fifty book reviews in seventeen different scholarly journals. The BBC recently consulted with him for a future episode of its television show Who Do You Think You Are?, a program that profiles the family history of well-known personalities.
WESTMONT IN MACEDONIA
No, it’s not a new semester-abroad program, but it has become a regular summer enterprise for Westmont’s theatre department. Once again, John Blondell directed Shakespeare on the Balkan Peninsula. He staged three plays in four different venues at Macedonian festivals. His Bitola National Theatre production of Antony and Cleopatra opened the Bitola Shakespeare Festival in late July, and played the Ohrid Summer Festival two days later. His local theatre troupe Lit Moon also performed their version of Hamlet at the Bitola Shakespeare Festival, and then staged Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at the so-called "Officers' House," a former Yugoslavian military mansion. Mitchell Thomas performed in both productions, while Jonathan Hicks handled the lighting design, making it a full department affair. In addition, Mitchell directed both American and Macedonian actors in a workshop aimed at generating new plays based on Shakespeare's sonnets, which will premiere in Bitola in the summer of 2016.
AWARD FOR CYNTHIA TOMS
Congratulations to Cynthia Toms, who was awarded the “2015 Dissertation of the Year” by the International Association for Research in Service Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE). The dissertation draws on her field research in Central America. This summer Cynthia presented "Women, Community Development and Global Service-Learning: A Story of Empowerment as Reciprocity" at the conference for the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education at Calvin College. She spoke as well at the Leading Change Institute: Ethical Global Partnerships, Learning, and Service at Kansas State University.
WESTMONT IN SAN FRANCISCO SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
Westmont in San Francisco, located at the historic Clunie House (photo) near the panhandle of Golden Gate Park, recently concluded its third summer session. This ten-week internship program again placed students in a wide range of sites throughout the Bay Area. Students were engaged with projects at Adobe Systems (computer software), HyTrust Inc. (cloud computing), Filld (mobile app start-up), Berrett-Koehler (book publishing) Wolves Create (film production), Global Ties (international relations) and The SOLD Project (human trafficking prevention).
Director Brad Berky comments, “The quality of our student interns and site supervisors has been a gift. I'm especially pleased about the new and successful inroads we made in the business, tech, and start-up sectors this summer. Our student-interns thrived and opened the doors for expanded placement opportunities in these and other innovative fields shaping the landscape of the Bay Area. In addition to their internship involvements, students also had opportunity to immerse themselves in San Francisco's diverse cultural context, and they explored issues of faith, ethics, and vocational identity in the Practicum Seminar."
PROVOST’S AND DOWNTOWN LECTURES
Last fall I hosted a special lecture by Robert Gundry, Westmont’s scholar-in-residence and professor emeritus of New Testament and Greek; we entitled the event a “Provost’s Lecture.” Bob’s thesis on that occasion—that Matthew portrays Peter as an apostate—is now developed into a new book, just published by Eerdmans (Peter: False Disciple and Apostate according to Saint Matthew).
That event prompted me to consider hosting more Provost’s Lectures this fall, and we have three of them lined up. Please consider encouraging students to attend:
Rafia Zakira, a reporter, human rights lawyer, and author of The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan (2015), will speak on Thursday, October 1, at 3:30 in Winter 210. Her book offers a feminist perspective that juxtaposes the history of Pakistan with her own family's story. The event is co-hosted with the Office of Global Education.
Brian Johnson (photo) will speak on "The Role of Higher Education in The Religious Transformation of W.E.B. Du Bois and Implications for the 21st Century Academy.” A friend and former colleague, Brian is the president of Tuskegee University, one of the nation’s foremost Historically Black Colleges and Universities, an institution founded by Booker T. Washington. The lecture is scheduled for October 21, 7:00, in Hieronymus.
Robert Emmons, professor of neuroscience at the University of California at Davis, is the recipient of the Martin Institute’s first annual book award on spiritual formation. He received the award for Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. It is a book that several of our colleagues have read in various groups. Westmont will recognize Dr. Emmons with this award in a chapel presentation, and he will deliver a lecture on Thursday, November 12, at 7:00 in Hieronymus.
This fall the Westmont Downtown lecture series at the University Club will feature Andrea Gurney, who will reprise her Faculty Retreat lecture on emotional connections (October 8), and Scott Anderson, who will speak on creativity (November 4).
This semester the Reel Talk Film Series will probe aspects of “Democracy and Civic Engagement”—the Student Life Division’s theme for the year. The series is sponsored by the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts; I have agreed to host the discussions. Here are the first couple films:
To help support the new Westmont in East Asia program, we have chosen Zhang Yimou’s To Live (1994) as our opening feature (photo). It will be shown on September 17 at 7:00. Probably the most acclaimed Chinese director in recent history, Zhang Yimou was a leader in the so-called "Fifth Generation" of Chinese filmmakers, whose rich cinematography, unconventional storytelling, and rejection of the socialist-realist tradition in Chinese cinema earned international attention. Based on a novel by Yu Hua, To Live won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It follows two generations in a rich southern Chinese family that loses its wealth and persists through the trauma of the Cultural Revolution. Helen Rhee will help me lead the post-film conversation.
Scheduled for October 15, Food Chains is a documentary exploring the life and work of migrant farm workers in Florida and the Napa Valley. It examines the struggles of farm workers to increase wages, and examines the tense but also vague relationships between farmers, farm workers, supermarkets, and consumers. Cynthia Toms, who is teaching a nutrition course this term, will help host the discussion.
QUICK COMMITTEE UPDATES
Russell Smelley has once again been elected to serve as the chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee, while Bruce Fisk has been chosen to chair the General Education Committee.
The Academic Senate will examine a series of topics and questions this fall. The list includes reviewing the information literacy ILO results, appraising the effectiveness of our general education review process, assessing the academic calendar, identifying possible innovative edges in the curriculum, examining workload pressures and faculty time, and considering how to cultivate more student research. Anyone with issues or topics that you would like the Senate to consider should address those to Michelle Hardley, who establishes the agendas for the meetings.
A VISIT WITH TITO PAREDES IN PERU
When we left the small courtyard of World Vision Peru, Tito Paredes pointed out the tall lattice tower of Latina, or Channel 2, the nation’s major television network. Hovering over the Jesus Maria district of central Lima, the station was the target of a car bomb planted by insurrectionists in 1992. That explosion left three employees dead and briefly halted transmissions. As we walked, Tito recounted how he taught his children to dive for cover during those years whenever they heard explosions or gunfire.
Most of the violence swept through the Peruvian Andes, where the Shining Path rebels—a Maoist insurgent movement—held their grip for more than a decade. But by the early 1990s the guerrilla strikes had infiltrated the capital. In May of 1991 the director of World Vision Peru and his guest were shot in front of the national office; two months later three World Vision employees and a Peruvian friend were abducted while travelling from Lima to Andahuaylas in the southeastern highlands. As a result, World Vision Peru shut down operations. At that time, the charity had been serving about 23,000 youth in South America’s poorest nation.
This was one of several stories I heard this summer about philanthropy in the face of peril. At the start of a personal trip to Peru, I was pleased to spend a few days with Tito at his graduate center, known as the Centro Evangélico de Misiología Andino Amazónica (CEMAA). As its title implies, the center engages the peoples in the three distinct regions of Peru, from the Hispanic coastal regions to the central Andes to the Amazon Basin in the east. Housed in a bright-blue, three-story structure, CEMAA is set in a quiet residential locale on the southeastern edge of Lima, a blend of middle-class and lower-middle-class streets punctuated by small plazas and parks. All the homes in the neighborhood flew the red and white stripes of the Peruvian flag—a government mandate in July. Founded in 1981, CEMAA began with the goal of fostering collaboration between the various Christian movements and churches in the Andes and Amazon, primarily among the indigenous Quechua-speaking peoples. The institute now cooperates with the Latin American Theological Fraternity, where Tito has been an officer. It provides a Christian lens on ethnic migration within the nation—and on the heritage of violence, restoration, and hope.
On my first morning in the city Tito had arranged the visit at World Vision so I could learn more about the nation's political and social landscape, especially its recent tumults. I also saw it as a chance to glean a few new ideas about how undergraduate research might be connected with the work of NGOs. World Vision’s director of strategic planning described how their ministry was restored in 1994, shortly after the imprisonment of Shining Path ringleader Abimael Guzmán. Following a couple decades of declining violence and relative stability, Peru is more prosperous now, rising above the median on the U.N. Development Index, surpassing Colombia, Ecuador and Paraguay. As we rode in a taxi over the crowded Avenida Javier Prado (one of the rare highways in the world named for a philosopher) we passed the grand new concert hall, national library, and renovated stadium. The latest novel by Mario Vargas Llosa—Peru’s Nobel laureate and one-time presidential candidate—portrays an ordinary businessman, a “discreet hero,” who refuses to cave in to terrorist blackmail; it intimates of greater public security and civic confidence. [continue reading]
Photo: The main cathedral of Cusco in the Andes