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The March report comes during Spring Break, when over 200 students have made their way to Ensenada to serve with Potter's Clay—a Westmont tradition since 1977. This year I have appreciated working with Student Life on refining our "Serving Society" policies and programs; we hope to enhance the ways that service and study can be mutually enriching. As we have conferred about the academic and co-curricular partnership, Edee Schulze shared with me a statement of the values that guide Student Life. I am pleased that she has chosen to offer that statement—drafted as a letter to the faculty—as the final, reflective piece in this report. Here's a shout out as well to our Student Life colleagues Stu Cleek and Peter Hansen for finishing their doctorates at USC.

During this Spring Break week we have—for the third straight year—sent both of our basketball teams to the NAIA national tournament. Congratulations to Kirsten Moore and the women's team on their second-consecutive GSAC title. With an eye on athletics, let me also salute Becky Collier for finishing second in the nation in the pentathlon at the NAIA indoor championships. She pulled out the high finish by winning the final event of the competition, the 800-meter run. Becky has now achieved All-American status more often than any athlete in Westmont's history.

On Presidents' Day last month, I had the privilege of hearing the Westmont orchestra perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, part of the "Capital Orchestra Festival." The final selection in their repertoire was Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade," a symphonic suite based on the tales of the Arabian Nights. Often grand and sweeping, the composition is equally famous for its intimate solos for violin, viola, woodwinds, and harp. TKennedy Center WEstmonthose measures allowed several Westmont students to add personal, emotive touches to the larger drama of the orchestration. Rimsky-Korsakov called his piece a "kaleidoscope" full of musical motifs from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia—all told, a compelling global array for our national holiday. The orchestra opened its performance with a nineteenth-century American composition—"How Can I Keep From Singing." An old Baptist song, eventually embraced by Quakers, the hymn was recently set anew by Dan Goeller, a composer known for his work with underprivileged youth in South Dakota. Other directors at the event, unfamiliar with the hymn, were struck by the beauty of its melody. That gave Michael Shasberger a chance to explain that Westmont always begins its concerts with a hymn.

During this season of Lent, I trust that there will be some woodwind moments—still, pensive, prayerful—and some irrepressible song.

Mark Sargent signaure

 

Updates

RitcherSANDRA RICHTER TO FILL GUNDRY CHAIR AS PROFESSOR OF OLD TESTAMENT

Sandra Richter, currently professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, has been selected to fill the Robert H. Gundry Chair at Westmont and to serve as a professor of Old Testament. She is the author of the widely praised book The Epic of Eden, which offers readers a lucid introduction to the Old Testament. In that text, she states that her goal is to help readers overcome the "chasm" of "linguistic, cultural and historical changes" that can separate us from the past and keep us from seeing continuities. "It is my heart's cry," she writes, "that the Old Testament will come alive to you such that you will recognize your own story in the sweeping epic of redemption. More important, my hope is that you will come to know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who has delivered the children of Abraham from the slavery of Egypt and has delivered you as well." That study has been the basis for numerous workshops at churches and colleges around the country.

Sandy has also written on Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and archeology, and she has a special interest in the Bible and American environmental practice. She has described, for instance, how Deuteronomy offers "a concrete illustration of the role of the redeemed community as regards creation care in the midst of this fallen order," and contends that the values of Israel stress that "neither economic expansion, national security, or even personal economic viability" could justify "abuse of the land, abuse of the poor, or abuse of the domestic or wild creature."

I am excited about the scope of intellectual interests that Sandy will bring to the post, and admire her ability to engage both the academy and the church. After completing her M.A. at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Sandy finished her doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization and the Hebrew Bible at Harvard University, and has served on the faculties of Wesley Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary before joining the faculty at Wheaton. For eight years she served as a minister with the Assemblies of God, and remains an advisor to the Translation and Scholarship Committee of the American Bible Society. She will join us on July 1.

 

RbeccaNEW ENGLISH COLLEAGUE

Next fall we will welcome Rebecca McNamara to our English faculty. Currently a visiting lecturer at UCLA, Rebecca brings expertise in medieval literature and linguistics; her recent scholarship focuses on the emotions in Middle English literature. A graduate of Baylor University, she completed her master's degree and doctorate at the University of Oxford, and served as a tutor for students at Oriel, Hertford, and Magdalen Colleges of the University. During those years at Oxford she also served at Exeter College as a junior dean, a role that covers many duties familiar to a resident director. Following her time in England, Rebecca was a postdoctoral research associate at the Medieval and Early Modern Centre of the University of Sydney in Austrailia. "I took up a postdoctoral fellowship," she writes, "in part because the topic, emotions related to suicide in the medieval world, appealed to my interest in the practice of compassion and empathy in difficult circumstances. This was a research topic in which I saw opportunity to shed light on one small area of how past cultures have dealt with the aching history of human suffering." While in Sydney, she continued her work on the history of emotions in Europe, and taught courses on Chaucer, composition, and medieval narrative.

 

Bridge at WestmontTENURE RECIPIENTS

Commendations are in order for four of our colleagues who have been granted tenure by the Board of Trustees. Based on the recommendations of the Faculty Personnel Committee, the trustees voted to approve Kristi Lazar Cantrell (Chemistry), Heather Keaney (History), Felicia Song (Sociology), and Amanda Sparkman (Biology) for tenure. The four colleagues will join the ranks of the tenured faculty at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year. Be sure to congratulate them on this milestone in their careers.

Bonnett parkMAY FAITH-LEARNING SEMINAR WILL EXPLORE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Every May, a group of faculty members participate in a weeklong faith-learning seminar, which is broadly aimed at helping connect issues of faith to scholarly work and teaching. The seminar this year will be held from May 15 to 19; the theme is "Loving our Neighbor: Engaging the Community." The hope is that this year’s seminar will 1) enrich the faith of faculty as we serve together and reflect on Jesus' command to love our neighbors; 2) educate faculty about some of the local needs of the community and the good work various groups are doing to meet these needs; 3) inspire faculty to incorporate more community engagement in their classes and department curricula, and 4) help faculty network with local individuals and non-profits working on issues they care about.

Inspired by the successful Border Immersion experience last year, seminar participants will be broken into smaller groups, with each going into the community to engage a different issue with one or more community partners. On Monday morning, we will gather together for a devotional, some context setting, a walk through some neighborhoods of Santa Barbara, and a primer on “best practices” for community-based learning. The activities from Tuesday through Thursday will be the group immersion experiences. On Friday morning we will gather again for group reports and reflection. 

While some details are still being finalized, the topics explored by the faculty groups will include: 1) vulnerable youth, led by Jeff Shaffer from the Uffizi Order; 2) community public health, led by Dr. Fred Kass; 3) creation care, led by longtime Westmont friend and partner Karen Taleen-Lawton; 4) immigration, led by Diane Martinez of Immigrant Hope. Some groups will be a more focused immersion with one topic; others will be like a "tour" that looks at an issue from different angles. Agendas and schedules will be finalized in April so there will be plenty of time for participating faculty to select a group that fits their interests and availability. If you are interested in signing up, look for a follow-up email from Eileen McMahon McQuade.

 

Steve JulioMAJOR NIH GRANT FOR STEVE JULIO

Congratulations to Steve Julio, who has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health as part of a collaboration with scholars at the University of North Carolina. While most of the $1.6 million grant (over five years) will go to the R1 institution, the grant will be exploring a bacterial regulatory control system that was discovered at Westmont several years ago. Steve will be the co-principal investigator. The title of the grant is "PlrSR-dependent signal transduction in Bordetella virulence"; Steve and his collaborators will be trying to decipher how the regulatory system controls bacterial virulence, with the practical goal of identifying new therapeutic targets for whooping cough. In February, Steve was also one of the co-authors on an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Entitled "The Bordetella PlrSR Two-Component System Controls BvgAS Activity and Virulence in the Lower Respiratory Tract," the article also features Westmont alum Aaron Wilk ('16) as a co-author.

OgechiSOME QUICK NOTES: GLOBAL

I am pleased that Ogechi Nwaokelemeh (photo) will teach the opening class next August in our new Westmont in Uganda program. She will join the seven Westmont students in August to offer a class in nutrition—the first course in the students' study of global health at Uganda Christian University.

I am also excited that Jesse and Holly Covington, who led Europe Semester in the fall of 2013, have agreed to direct the program again in the fall of 2018.

Largely for purposes of fiscal restraint, Patti Hunter and I have agreed to serve one more year as the interim global education directors. As we have undertaken this task during the year, Barb Pointer has continued her role as assistant director, shouldering additional responsibilities even as we have launched new programs in Uganda and Asia. She has provided logistical support for all off-campus programs, and we are grateful for her extra efforts this year—and for the contributions of Kim Notehelfer as an administrative assistant in the office.

The Westmont in Jerusalem program will be undergoing a review during April, as an evaluation team from Westmont will be conducting a site visit.

 

Wisteria at WestmontSOME QUICK NOTES: LOCAL

Many thanks to Lesa Stern, who has agreed to serve as the lead assessment specialist for our Oral Communication ILO assessment next year. She will soon be outlining her plan, with hopes that the enterprises will kindle some robust conversations about how we use our classes and co-curricular programs to strengthen students' oral communication skills.

The Sixteenth Annual Conversation on the Liberal Arts—sponsored by the Gaede Institute—takes place on March 23-25. This year's meeting focuses on "Liberal Arts for a Fragile Planet," and will feature speakers from Princeton University, Hope College, Boston College, and Oil Change International. The sessions will explore how the "tools of the liberal arts" can help us engage the natural world during a "time of ecological threat and climate crisis."

There appear to be a growing number of websites that purchase or download student papers and notes and resell them to other students looking to plagiarize. One website—Course Hero—even provides a bank of essays that were written for specific professors and courses at Westmont. In light of this trend, the Academic Senate has added some language to our Academic Integrity Statement. We recognize that sharing ideas and models of excellent essays can be healthy practices in an academic community, and we understand that some students have been innocent victims of these third-party schemes. So, we want to be cautious in assigning blame, yet also hope to signal that intentionally giving and selling work to third-party sources to enable plagiarism is a violation of our standards of integrity.

 

reflection

Edee SchulzeEIGHT CORE BELIEFS OF STUDENT LIFE

Dear Faculty,

I thought you might be interested in getting an inside look at the principles of Student Life that are core to my work and the work of Student Life colleagues here at Westmont. I will be expanding on each of these with the Student Life staff over the coming months as part of a series of professional development discussions. I offer them to you as information (in brief form). Feel free to let me know if you would like more information on any of these or if you have questions.

Student Affairs work (also known as Student Life, Student Development, or Student Services) has the goal of creating and contributing to environments on college and university campuses where students can thrive, develop, and achieve their higher education goals. The field is built upon an amalgamation of principles, theories, and perspectives from many areas of study, such as sociology, psychology, organizational behavior, and legal studies. Yet none is as important to me as the theological and philosophical foundations. Below are eight key statements representing core beliefs and priorites that guide our Student Life work and ministry.

1. We believe that each student is wonderfully created in the image of God, deeply cherished, uniquely gifted, and intimately known by God, even before their birth.

2. The Holy Spirit is the change agent that transforms the heart and life of a student. Sometimes we get to be involved as a conduit for that transformation.

3. The most important redemptive experience in the life of a student occurs when they encounter Jesus Christ and His reconciling work on the cross through His death and resurrection.

4. Other restorative and developmental growth experiences occur for students over the span of their lives in all areas of their personhood. Student Life work creates environments and experiences for this holistic growth of students—spiritual, relational, emotional, physical, racial and ethnic, recreational and vocational.

5. Relationships are central to our work and ministry with students. We live and relate authentically with students, life touching life.

6. We believe the developmental growth of students, over time, is often precipitated by events in which we can provide challenge and/or support to facilitate that growth.

7. Faculty are key collaborative partners as we strive together to accomplish the mission of the institution and the development of our students.

8. We strive to be excellent in our work, pursuing and using the best practices of Student Affairs in our programs and services, including protecting students' privacy, advocating for students' needs, striving to provide equal access and opportunity for all, and abiding by the laws impacting higher education.

To do this work well, I pray we will have genuine affection and love for the students who are entrusted to our care.

Edee Schulze

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