I've not generally sent out an August Provost's Report, but this year there was plenty to tell you about new colleagues and summer highlights.

The summer began with the happy news that we have been awarded a major grant from the Keck Foundation for the development of laboratory curriculum in the Biology and Chemistry Departments. The project (described below) was a fruitful collaboration between the two academic departments, associate dean Eileen McMahon McQuade, and the Office of College Advancement. Let me give special thanks to Dan Thomas and wish him well in his new venture with the Santa Barbara County Food Bank.

If you have been checking The Washington Post for the latest political tempest, you may have run across a recent article citing Helen Rhee. The Post conducted a survey of Americans’ perspectives on poverty, and then turned to Helen for some historical and theological context on the distinctive views of Christians. If you have been reveling in the Dodgers' remarkable season, you may have encountered Steve Julio's letter in Sports Illustrated on nostalgia in baseball. Whatever your literary choices, I hope your summer reading has been invigorating.

The first movement of the Fall semester starts very soon now. Consider this the overture.

Mark Sargent signaure

 

Updates

Westmont chemistryKECK FOUNDATION GRANT FOR LABORATORY CURRICULUM

In June, Westmont was awarded $225,000 from the Keck Foundation for the redesign of our laboratory curriculum. The project is entitled “Turning students into practicing scientists: integrating research throughout the science curriculum.” There are four primary objectives: 1) incorporating more inquiry-based laboratory exercises that require students to think and act like professional scientists; 2) increasing the rigor of the statistics and analysis students do in laboratories; 3) improving and maintaining laboratory instrumentation to ensure students gain independence and competence with the latest technology; and 4) restructuring a senior capstone course around a student-hosted research seminar series.

Over the last five years, the Biology and Chemistry Departments have incorporated more inquiry-based learning methods into lecture courses; this proposal will bring those into the labs as well. While traditional lab exercises often ask students simply to EPR“verify” what they already know by following structured protocols, inquiry-based methods have them start with a question, develop their methodology, and discover the answers for themselves. The grant also funds instrumentation required for the fifteen new modules. The Chemistry Department will acquire an electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) machine (photo above), while Biology will purchase a real-time, quantitative PCR machine, hand-held GPS devices, a new Sorvall ultra-centrifuge, and a research-grade Scope imagefluorescence microscope and imaging system (photo: an image from the microscope). We will gain some more laboratory computers with advanced statistics and graphing software. Along with funds for faculty development, the grant allows us to host three workshops on campus over the next three years, all open to undergraduate faculty locally and regionally. During the coming fall, the first workshop will focus on the best interdisciplinary practices for teaching statistics. The other two workshops will be on inquiry-based methods, and the final one will feature the good work faculty have completed as part of the project.

Finally, the grant will enable the Biology Department to start a yearlong research seminar series and to restructure a senior capstone course to support it.  Each semester, a scientist will be brought in for a research talk, and the students, not the faculty, will serve as the planners and hosts.  Through this unique experience, our biology seniors will nurture the skills of a professional scientist, most specifically the ability to discuss their research and ideas with other scholars.   

 

Mary Logue WestmontNEW LIBRARY DIRECTOR MARY LOGUE

After leading the library for a year as the interim director, Mary Logue stepped into the role as the director of Voskuyl Library on August 1. A veteran of seventeen years in the library, Mary joined the staff shortly after her graduation from Westmont, and went on to complete a master's degree in library and information science from San José State University. Active locally as the chair and as the vice chair of the Gold Coast Library Network, Mary has worked diligently to build networks among regional librarians in the Tri-Counties. She is also the co-founder of the Central Coast Disaster Preparedness and Response Network. I asked her for some reflections on her goals and plans.

What is your vision for the library in the next five years?

My vision falls under the general theme of integrating the library more fully into the academic and co-curricular life of the college. I foresee focusing more of the library service and space on helping students succeed. I would like the library to partner more directly with faculty and staff on campus initiatives and events, academic and co-curricular.

This begins by making the library a center of scholarship on campus. Due to needing less space for books than in the past, more of the space can be used for collaboration and interaction, along with quiet and contemplative space for individual learning. A full evaluation of the use of space in the library should be conducted to determine how to effectively provide group study rooms, quiet areas, and places for students to interact with ideas.

Elaborate on this idea of the library as a "center of scholarship."

Voskuyl libraryBeing a center of scholarship on campus isn't just about the library as a physical space, although that is important, but also as a center where scholarship, learning, and engaging with ideas occur. To accomplish this goal, we will need to move away from some of the more traditional library tasks and toward a more active role in assisting the learning of our students at a higher level. We must continue to evolve our instruction program. We have already begun to move away from focusing on teaching how to use our resources and how to find . . .

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Yi Fan LuTWO NEW SCIENCE COLLEAGUES

I am very pleased that two new colleagues will be serving in one-year appointments in the Natural and Behavioral Sciences Division.

Yi-Fan Lu joins our Biology Department. He comes to us from the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University, where he has been a postdoctoral scholar. While there, he contributed to Zika antiviral drug development by identifying a new mechanism of protein translation in infected cells, and has published his results in a top virology journal. His research focuses on neuroscience and cell culture, genome editing, biostatistics, data analysis, and infectious diseases. A graduate of National Taiwan University, he completed his doctorate in molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University. An active member of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, he is an acoustic guitar player and previously co-founded and led a large Bible study fellowship for students from Duke and UNC Chapel Hill.

Ho JinThe Chemistry Department will welcome Ho Jin, who has been a postdoctoral research associate at Texas A&M University. Dr. Jin finished both his undergraduate work and his doctorate in physical chemistry at Pohang University of Science and Technology in Korea. He has studied the photophysical property of colloidal nanomaterials and their assembly, and has applied them in nanosensor and photovoltaic devices. The recipient of a teaching award for his work at Pohang, he will teach numerous chemistry labs for us in the coming year to help us while two professors in the department are on yearlong sabbaticals.

 

Becky CollierWESTMONT FINISHES IN THE TOP TEN OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS

A strong athletic year in 2016-2017 came to an end last June with the news that Westmont had finished in the top ten of the NAIA Directors' Cup for the first time in many years. Our eighth-place finish was the third-highest ever (our highest finish has been seventh place in 1998-1999 and in 2001-2002). The Directors' Cup measures athletic accomplishments in all sports, including advancement in national tournaments. Six teams (both the men's and women's track and field teams, women's basketball, men's soccer, men's tennis, and volleyball) claimed conference titles last year, and one athlete—Becky Collier—was the most valuable athlete of the national track and field championships after finishing first in both the high jump and the pentathlon (photo).

Ten of Westmont's athletic teams were also recognized as NAIA Scholar-Athlete Teams, an honor given to clubs that have an average GPA of 3.0 or higher. Women's cross country had the highest mark (3.32), while volleyball finished second (3.21). Other programs honored were men's tennis, track and field, cross country, baseball, and soccer as well as women's basketball, soccer, and track and field. Patti Cook, who led the volleyball team to a 31-0 regular season mark, was also named the Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable Coach of the Year for all sports and all collegiate and high school levels in town.

Congratulations to Athletic Director Dave Odell and his coaches for a stellar year on the track, the courts, and the fields as well as in the classroom.

 

Katherine BryantTWO ONE-YEAR APPOINTMENTS

We are delighted to welcome two colleagues who are already quite familiar with Westmont as they begin new one-year appointments.

Katherine Bryant, who has been teaching part-time in the Political Science Department, will come aboard full-time for one year to help cover for a leave of absence. She specializes in international relations, and has done considerable research about the impact of foreign aid on a nation's economic growth and health policies. She is a graduate of USC, where she was a standout in track and field, and then she went on to complete a doctorate in political science from Texas A&M University. She also studies international law, human rights, and international security issues.

Kelsey LahrKelsey Lahr, a 2011 graduate, will be joining the Westmont community on a two-thirds appointments in the Communication Studies Department to help cover for a sabbatical leave. She recently received her master's degree in communication from the University of Utah, and has spent several years in Yosemite as a park ranger. The national parks—and other environmental themes—have been focal points of her research. In fact, she just received a top paper award at the National Communication Association's 2017 conference in the Rhetoric and Public Address Division. Her paper was entitled "'Rapid and Dramatic Change': Precautionary Rhetoric and Climate Change Communication in Yosemite National Park."

 

Trailhead at WestmontGREAT START FOR TRAILHEAD: SEEKING GOD'S CALL

"My relationship with God changed during the Lectio Divina exercise and after the Fear and Hope reflection."

"I will put all the effort I have to make sure that my church's youth ministry thrives."

"During this program I have found a new love for reading God's word. I have found joy and peace in the Spirit-inspired scripture, and have committed to listening to God daily."

These were just some of the closing reflections by the high school students who joined us for the inaugural Trailhead program during two weeks in June and July. Led by the staff of the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts, with major contributions from faculty, staff, alums, current students, and community partners, Trailhead offered 30 high schoolers the opportunity to explore what living in response to God's call can mean for them. The program examined biblical teaching from Genesis to Revelation on the call to care for non-human creation, and experienced the Santa Barbara Channel from land and water. It explored how welcoming migrants is a theme throughout Scripture, and allowed students to hear personal stories of immigrants living in Santa Barbara. It explored spiritual practices for living with hope in the face of fear, and offered perspectives from emergency-service professionals and counselors who work daily to help people in crisis.

Trailhead at WestmontThroughout the two weeks the group reflected, prayed, worshipped, wrote, painted, laughed and played together in a close community of new friends. Westmont faculty and staff who contributed to the program included President Beebe, Kirsten Burdick. Lisa DeBoer, Mary Docter, Christen Foell, Troy Harris, Chris Hoeckley, Eric Nelson, Caryn Reeder, Aaron Sizer, and Sameer Yadav. Students in the program will be back for a second year, and we will also bring in a new cohort of students, all of whom are supported by their local churches. Trailhead has been made possible by a significant grant from the Lilly Endowment.

 

Oak CreekSCHOLARS' RETREAT

Thanks to generous support from the Martin Institute, eleven members of the Westmont community once again gathered in June at Oak Creek Ranch (photo) near Santa Margarita for a week of scholarly and creative endeavor. The purpose of this year's retreat, as in previous years, was to give participants a chance to jump start their summer research projects and to enjoy fellowship and spiritual refreshment in a peaceful, secluded setting. Participants came from seven different departments.

Coordinator Mark Nelson reports, "Apart from shared meals and daily devotions, people were left to their own devices and quickly arrived at schedules that worked for them. I was impressed by how much everyone accomplished, but delighted that they still made time for swimming, or bocce ball, or board games after dinner. We hope to have a similar retreat next year."

 

Winston McGee ChantelHOW MODERNISM CAME TO SANTA BARBARA: SUMMER "POP-UP" EXHIBIT

During July and early August the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art offered a "pop-up" summer exhibition on "How Modernism Came to Santa Barbara, 1945-1990." The exhibition featured 25 artists, including our own John Carlander and Tony Askew. The inspiration for the exhibition came from gifts the museum has received in the last five years by local artists or their families.

At a time when Santa Barbara was known for traditional landscape painting and idealized portraits, these avant-garde artists brought experimentation, emotional expression, and directness to their sculptures, paintings, drawings, collage, and assemblage. (The image above is "Chantel," a 1962 painting by Winston McGee.) The museum published a small catalogue for the exhibition with biographies of each artist. Over the summer Judy Larson and Katherine Christensen interviewed dozens of artists and students, collectors, and family members of these artists to records these biographies.

Richard III westmontSHAKESPEARE IN EASTERN EUROPE

John Blondell, Mitchell Thomas, Victoria Finlayson, and Jonathan Hicks spent much of the summer in Europe working on Shakespearean plays with the Lit Moon Theatre Company. Lit Moon's Hamlet, adapted and directed by John, was performed at the Puppets Metamorphosis Festival in Bialystok, Poland, in June. Mitchell and Victoria both acted in the play; it was the only American production at the festival, which also featured theatre companies from Poland, Lithuania, France, Hungary, and Spain. Later that month, Lit Moon's newest show—an all-female version of Richard III—was performed at the Bitola Shakespeare Festival in Macedonia, as Victoria, along with Westmont alums Paige Tautz and Marie Ponce-De Leon, played key roles (photo). We will get our own chance to see Richard III when it comes to Westmont on August 31 and September 2.

Jonathan served as the lighting designer for both productions, a role he found "quite rewarding" despite the brisk schedule. "In both instances," he observes, "we have a couple of days to rehearse, and then on the day of the performance we set up the performance space, hang and focus the lighting fixtures, do a mark-through of the show to set the lighting cues, go through a final dress, and then we open. The whole experience is energizing, challenging, and one of the most rewarding collaborative experiences of staging a theatrical production."

John's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was also performed in Bitola in late July and early August for the Ohrid Summer Festival. It will continue for the Bitola National Theatre's repertoire for the 2017-2018 season.

 

Santa Barbara beachA FEW QUICK TAKES

Gregg Afman has been elected to serve as the chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee for 2017-2018.

Telford Work will join with Jim Taylor to teach one of the first-year courses for the Augustinian Scholars. The other course will be taught by Jesse Covington and Sarah Skripsky.

The Westmont in Northern Europe program will not run during the fall 2018 semester. Chris Hoeckley and Cheri Larsen Hoeckley will lead the trip once again in the fall of 2019. We do plan to offer the England Semester, the Europe Semester, Westmont in Uganda, and Westmont in Mexico programs during the fall of 2018, as well as the Westmont in Jerusalem program in the spring of 2019. Westmont Downtown and Westmont in San Francisco will run both semesters.

Welcome back to Trish Beaudin, who will be assuming the role of assistant athletic director for operations.

Anna VandeBunte, a graduate of 2017, will serve as the new lab coordinator in the Psychology Department. She completed a major honors project last spring, and will assist in the set-up and operation of laboratory sections.

Kim Work will join the Office of Disability Services in a part-time role, supporting the complex process of testing and providing accommodations for students.

"Reel Talk" begins this year with the showing of a documentary on three individuals who have intervened to stop violence in Chicago. "The Interrupters" will be shown on September 7 in Adams 216, and it was chosen to complement the selection of Tattoos on the Heart as the "Westmont Reads" book for the year. Tattoos was written by Father Gregory Boyle and describes his efforts to address gang violence in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Angela D'Amour is organizing the "Westmont Reads" activities this year.

 

 

 

 

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