This month’s scholarly highlights will take us around the world: Thomas Jaywardene in Italy and Sri Lanka, Marianne Robins in France, Mitchell Thomas and John Blondell in China, Michael Shasberger in Russia, Jeff Schloss in the Netherlands, Greg Orfalea in Turkey, Tom Walters in Norway, Warren Rogers in Hawai’i, and Bill Wright in Oxnard.

"Oxnard," at least in the Provost’s shop, is code for staying put for a while to do some diligent work in the office. For Bill recently that includes gathering data and compiling reports for the WASC self-study. He has harnessed a wide array of comments from several committees about our performance on each of WASC’s four standards, and is preparing a summary of strengths and concerns that will soon be vetted with those committees once again. On that theme, we are pleased to host our WASC liaison, Maureen Maloney, during a campus visit on November 11. She will be advising us about preparations for our institutional evaluation in 2015-2016.

On October 30, I will be off for a few days to Singapore, where President Beebe and I will explore some possibilities for educational partnerships and collaboration. Reports from our current global programs have been encouraging, and I have included below a short glimpse into the new Westmont in Northern Europe program led by Chris Hoeckley and Cheri Larsen Hoeckley.

No need to travel far to celebrate the installation of Edee Schulze. I'm looking forward to a rich academic and co-curricular partnership in the years ahead.

Mark Sargent

Updates

Rachel-Winslow

NEW SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM

The Westmont faculty have approved a new study program to be set in downtown Santa Barbara. The Center for Social Entrepreneurship, to be led by Rachel Winslow, is a semester-long program designed to cultivate the skills of social innovatation and to help students envision ways of contributing to the local and global good. Interdisciplinary in nature, the Center will strive to draw upon the city’s high number of non-profit organizations as well its business sector.

Starting in the fall of 2015, the program will seek to enroll at least ten students each term, and will provide a community of study, worship and experiential learning. All students in the program will complete a core seminar and a practicum, and will select from other electives. We anticipate that the Center will not only be the site for the semester program, but also a vibrant place for Westmont’s engagement with the Santa Barbara community. It is our hope that the program helps students discover a range of callings, careers and further study that can contribute to the flourishing of individuals and communities.

Paul Morgan

PAUL MORGAN

After 35 years of teaching and service at Westmont, Paul Morgan will be retiring from his role as professor of economics and business in May. Edd Noell, who has long shared the economics courses with Paul, praises him as a "splendid colleague" and "a valuable dialogue partner for ruminating about and implementing ways to continually upgrade pedagogy and curriculum in the expanding discipline of economics."

Jeannine Morgan, his wife of 46 years, recalls his "hours and hours of research, preparation and updating." "He is quick witted," she remarks, "with a subtle (borderline sarcastic) sense of humor, that, when understood by his students, makes economics quite delightful and not nearly as dismal as one would suppose."

A graduate of Greenville College, Paul finished his master's degree from Northern Illinois University and his doctorate from Illinois State University. He returned to Greenville to teach for eight years, until he joined the Westmont faculty in 1979. That was the year when Rick Ifland . . . [continue reading]

Edee Schulze

GENDER DYNAMICS ON CHRISTIAN COLLEGE CAMPUSES

Edee Schulze, our new vice president for student life, delivered the first of this semester’s Gender Studies Lectures, also co-sponsored by the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts. A full house in Winter Hall’s lecture hall heard about her research on “Gender Dynamics at Two Christian Liberal Arts Colleges,” based on her previous studies at Bethel and Wheaton. The goal of the project was to “understand how female students experienced the learning environment and the effects of gender role attitudes and assumptions present in the evangelical Christian environment.” She assesses whether there is a “chilly climate" for women on campus, or the "subtle ambiance in which small inequities can create a negative atmosphere for learning, for teaching, and for fulfilling professional roles.” As a qualitative study, her project relied on substantial interviews with male and female students, as well as with a diverse group of faculty. While she identifies many aspects of a chilly climate at the two institutions and notes that many women felt limited in their roles, she did stress that students in her study had a generally positive collegiate experience. I especially appreciated her list of several recommendations—about both principles and practice—for our efforts in the classroom and in the workplace.

Berlin Wall

WESTMONT IN NORTHERN EUROPE

The inaugural Westmont in Northern Europe program has been exploring the theme of "conflict and peacemaking." They are in Germany now, awaiting the 25th anniversary of the day (November 9, 1989) when the Berlin Wall came down.

As that landmark date nears, the Westmont students have encountered multiple events and sites made famous by the struggle for peace in Germany during World War II and the Cold War. Students and faculty have made some videos examining the program themes. Here's one brief reflective video from Chris Hoeckley, as well as another short promotional sequence that gives you glimpses of their experience.

Chris also shares some thoughts on their recent times of worship in churches at the center of this story of conflict and resolution: “On October 9, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the big Monday prayer for peace and demonstration in Leipzig that was the beginning of the end of the East German regime. The line to get into the peace prayer service at the Nikolaikirche was at least a thousand people long, and after the service we were on the streets with 200,000 people. Recently we took part in a beautiful vespers service at the Church of the Holy Cross (Kreuzkirche) in Dresden, less well-known than the Frauenkirche, but in its own way, equally important. . . . [continue reading

Michael Shasberger

FROM NORTHERN EUROPE TO NORTHERN ASIA: RUSSIA, KOREA, AND CHINA

After last spring’s choir tour to Russia, Michael Shasberger was invited to return to offer a master class for the choir at the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory. He has been there for the last week, reporting weather of 22 degrees and memorable wind chill, as well as splendid concerts with Russian film composers and an Offenbach opera. Michael led the Russian choir as it prepared to perform “an anthology of American choral music.”

The first Westmont in Asia semester is scheduled for fall 2016, as Edd Noell and Helen Rhee are set to co-lead the trip. Their program will devote several weeks to both Korea and China, and include a final wrap-up week in Singapore. This year in Korea Westmont alum Stephen Lee ('13) is serving as a Fulbright student scholar at Seoul National University, where he is conducting genetic research, concentrating on problems that can arise when stem cells are used to treat diseases (see story).

John Blondell and Mitchell Thomas have recently travelled to Beijing, where John directed plays at National Theatre of China's International Shakespeare Festival. Mitchell performed multiple roles—Polonius, Laertes, and the gravedigger—in Hamlet. In addition to Hamlet, John directed the Bitola National Theatre (from Macedonia) in their performance of Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 3.

Kelly Collins

ATHLETIC NEWS, ON AND OFF THE COURSE

As the postseason lingers just around the corner, here's a quick glance at some highlights from our athletic year to date. At the outset, let me salute Russell Smelley for being selected as the nation's sole recipient of the “Coach of Character” award from the NAIA. The award honors integrity and "teaching character through sport." Congratulations as well to one of his athletes, Kelly Collins (photo), who was named the NAIA's national cross-country athlete of the week after winning the Vanguard Invitational. By winning the large invitational, the women's cross-country team rose to fifth in the national rankings.

In the past several months the Athletic Department went through a review of its programs and an assessment of its athletes, led by Kirsten Moore. There were a few intriguing results. First, we have noted that grade point averages for athletes have been rising, while graduation rates have not, possibly a challenge with transfer credits. The review revealed that the range of religious experience and perspective is more varied among athletes than in the student body as whole, and the survey gave insights into challenges and opportunities for spiritual formation. Furthermore, the studies did indicate that student-athletes—both women and men—tend to graduate with higher levels of intellectual and social self-confidence than their Westmont peers in general. Coaches speculate that the sense of belonging, the constant effort to overcome disappointments and failures, and the experience of shared achievement with teammates are all key contributors to that confidence.

brain gears

CRITICAL THINKING

As part of our mandatory expectation for assessment, each year Westmont conducts an evaluation of one of its seven “institutional learning outcomes" (ILOs). During the 2013-2014 academic year, the focus was on "critical thinking," most specifically the ability of Westmont graduates to "accurately evaluate the strength of evidence in support of a claim." The effort was led by Jim Taylor as our "Lead Assessment Specialist," along with a team of Steve Contakes, Angela D'Amour, Rick Pointer, Randy VanderMey and Jane Wilson, under the guidance of Tatiana Nazarenko. The team chose to administer the "Critical Thinking Assessment Test," which enables us to compare our own results against peer institutions. A number of faculty—Andrea Gurney, Wayne Iba, Paul Morgan, Mark Nelson, Helen Rhee, Rachel Winslow, and Telford Work—participated as evaluators.

In comparison with our peers, Westmont students did well at identifying "how strongly correlational-type data supports a hypothesis" and evaluating whether an argument rests on "spurious information." They did less well identifying "the additional information needed to support a hypothesis" or "using and applying relevant information to solve a real-world problem." For more specific results, see Jim's full report. Admittedly, such tests are only a snapshot of our students' abilities, and need to be balanced with other analysis and exams. But the process does prompt valuable conversation about how we cultivate critical thinking skills. The Academic Senate is supporting some future sessions to nurture that conversation and acquaint faculty with some of the academy's best practices.