Presidential Briefing

Fall 2017

Dr. Gayle D. Beebe

Westmont College

Classes began this week after a full summer and a season of important growth and progress. So many good friends of the college continue to support us with their time and resources and play significant and timely roles in advancing our mission. We’re deeply grateful for their faithfulness and for God’s blessing and mercies.

Global Leadership Center Opens
Energy and enthusiasm marked move-in day at the Global Leadership Center (GLC). As workers applied finishing touches to this new, 45,000-square-foot addition, students expressed their delight at the beauty and elegance of the entire project. Its sheer size and layout provide the perfect context for students returning from their semester or year abroad, and we’re delighted to provide a landing place for our global re-entry process. I invite you to the dedication of the new facility and the celebration of five new leadership initiatives tied to the center (Mosher Center for Moral and Ethical Leadership, Eaton Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Hughes Center for Neuroscience and Leadership, Goble Center for Global Learning, and the Montecito Institute for Executive Education). Please join us at 3 p.m. October 13 at the site. We’ll hold the first Mosher Center for Moral and Ethical Leadership at the GLC in November, and we’ll provide more information soon.

David Brooks

The Montecito Institute and 2018 Lead Where You Stand Conference
The Montecito Institute’s successful 2017 Lead Where You Stand Conference, held on campus June 1-3, featured David Brooks, the critically acclaimed New York Times columnist and best-selling author. He delivered three outstanding presentations as we continue to grapple with the variety of moral and cultural currents moving in our society. We just received confirmation that David will spend the first Thursday of June with us for the next few years and will anchor the conference, beginning June 6-8, 2018, when we hold the event in the GLC for the first time. Once again, the 2018 conference will include presentations similar to TED Talks by various members of our faculty, administration and board of trustees. Leading national figures will offer significant plenary sessions and penetrating analysis of our contemporary culture. We’ll announce all the speakers and a preliminary schedule soon.


Travel with the Westmont Family
Every three years, we invite alumni and parents to join us on an international trip. Teri Bradford-Rouse, senior director of alumni and parent relations, coordinates these adventures. In July, we toured the Holy Land in July. Despite the seasonal heat, we had an amazing time studying the life and teachings of Jesus during the day and learning about the contemporary challenges facing the Middle East at night.

Westmont in Singapore
In the summer of 2018, we’ll launch our global studies program in Singapore featuring an internship-based concentration in international finance at the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS). Paul Bradford, director of career development and calling and a clinical professor in the Economics and Business Department, will lead the program. I will join him both in teaching the initial classes on campus and helping to lead the travel and internship portions of the program in Singapore and Southeast Asia. As students work and study with a major international bank, they’ll undertake several extended weekend excursions to destinations throughout the region that have played a leading role in events shaping world history, such as the American War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Angor Wat, Hong Kong, Hanoi and Manila.

Rachel Winslow meeting with Westmont Downtown students

Westmont Downtown
Professor Rachel Winslow continues to expand the reach and influence of Westmont Downtown. Now in its third year, the program combines a focused internship with classroom instruction to teach students the process and design of starting social enterprises that address and respond to some of our most daunting problems. For-profit, non-profit and governmental agencies have joined in coordinated partnerships as our students and their sponsors work with faculty to craft innovative responses to some of society’s most vexing ills.

Augustinian Scholars in 2017

Augustinian Scholars
With great excitement, we welcomed the second group of Augustinians to Westmont. They will follow the path of last year’s inaugural group, who will continue their focused learning during their second year in a seminar with developmental psychology professor Andrea Gurney. The Augustinians participate in focused, concentrated learning while also taking classes in the general curriculum.

Capital Improvement Projects
Voskuyl Chapel, Kerr Student Center and Clark E underwent renovation during the summer. Career Development and Calling has found an appealing new home upstairs in Kerr Student Center, and students living in Clark E are enjoying the complete overhaul of this building. The photos depict the dramatic improvement but can’t convey the significant enhancement to students’ experience. Thanks to the buildings and grounds team for their incredible work and especially to Hugo Franco, who oversees all these projects and renovations.

Becky Collier, the most valuable athlete of the national track and field championship

Westmont Finishes in the Top Ten of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
A strong athletic year in 2016-2017 ended last June with the news that Westmont had finished in the top 10 of the NAIA Directors Cup for the first time in many years. Our eighth-place finish was the third-highest ever (our highest was seventh place in 1998-1999 and 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 our teams were recognized as NAIA Scholar-Athlete Teams, an honor given to clubs with 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. (From the August 2017 Provost’s Report)

Meet Our New Professors

  • Sandy Richter: Robert Gundry professor in biblical studies, who recently completed filming and writing study curriculum for the Old Testament
  • Rebecca McNamara: assistant professor of English
  • Maria van der Walt: assistant professor of mathematics
  • Katherine Bryant: one-year appointment in political science
  • Ho Jin: one-year appointment in chemistry
  • Kelsey Lahr ’11: one-year appointment in communications studies
  • Yi-Fan Lu: one-year appointment in biology

Selected Faculty Scholarship
As always, our professors continue to be incredibly productive in their research, writing and professional presentations. For a more complete overview, please see the Provost’s Report. I’ve included some of the news from the August 2017 Provost’s Report below.

  • Mary Docter joined with Laura Montgomery and Timothy Klinger of Wheaton College to present a paper, “The Ethic of Encounter: Teaching to Listen, to Learn and to Love,” at the North American Regional Conference of the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education (IAPCHE), hosted at Calvin College.
  • Russell Howell delivered a paper, “Revitalizing Complex Analysis,” at the 21st biennial conference of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences (ACMS) in Charleston, South Carolina. At that meeting the ACMS board selected Russ to edit their conference Proceedings, which has now become a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Carmen McCain gave a talk, “‘God has Exposed you’: Discourses of Judgment in Nigerian Hausa Film,” at Northwestern University in May. In July, she hosted two author panel discussions: “Against the Grain: Modern Literature in Hausa” and “Her Stories, Our Stories” at the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival in Kaduna, Nigeria.
  • Tremper Longman has published The Fear of the Lord is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom in Israel (Baker, 2017). I was thrilled to receive and begin reading this latest installment in Tremper’s prolific career. Although “retired,” he is more productive than ever in speaking and scholarship. I’m particularly enjoying the way he returns to some of his original and seminal work in Wisdom Literature, the area of expertise for which he initially gained acclaim.
  • Chandra Mallampalli has written A Muslim Conspiracy in British India? I mentioned this book in my last briefing, and I just finished it. This amazing exploration of the role of British rule in greater India illuminates how paranoia, whether real or imagined, played a leading role in activating people to engage in intrigue, conspiracy and ultimately violence, often on thinly linked evidence both within and between the competing powers.

New Academic Programs
We strive to capture the innovative edges in our new academic programs, and I’m excited about three initiatives: our data analytics major and minors in computer science and global studies. Professors in computer science, mathematics, and economics and business are working together to educate data analysts who study and accurately communicate the salient features of big data. Students may complete the computer science minor by taking most of the classes in three successive Mayterm sessions; they can focus on their core curriculum during the academic year while pursuing a cutting-edge minor in the summer. The global studies minor blends off-campus study, interdisciplinary analysis, language study, and advanced research to help our students learn to study and work in an interconnected world.

Trailhead 2017

Great 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.”

High school students who joined us for the inaugural two-week Trailhead program offered these closing reflections. 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 encouraged 30 high schoolers 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 participants 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. Students learned about spiritual practices for living with hope in the face of fear and heard perspectives from emergency-service professionals and counselors who work daily to help people in crisis.

Throughout 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 Kirsten Burdick. Lisa DeBoer, Mary Docter, Christen Foell, Troy Harris, Chris Hoeckley, Eric Nelson, Caryn Reeder, Aaron Sizer, Sameer Yadav, and me. Students in the program will return for a second year, and we will also bring in a new cohort of students, all supported by their local churches. A significant grant from the Lilly Endowment funds Trailhead. (From the August 2017 Provost’s Report)

Summer Reading
Every summer I catch up on reading I had hoped to finish during the academic year. Four books were especially meaningful to me this summer:

  • Churchill and Orwell by Thomas E. Ricks (2017). With creative interplay, the author focuses on two personalities who lived at the same time but never met. Yet they were both instrumental in giving voice, leadership, and literary output to promoting individual liberty and the necessity of robust modern democracies. The title alluringly suggests that these giants in their respective fields, seldom considered together, possessed overlapping and significant values that guided their efforts before, during and after World War II.
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011). This is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in a long time. Dr. Kahneman received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in behavioral economics. A psychologist and academic by training and profession, he identifies two ways of thinking: what he calls system 1 and system 2. Based on our intuitive thinking, system 1 reflects how we often work by instinct and feel. System 2 represents our deductive thinking, which is slower and more deliberate but also gives us a more accurate insight into our situation so we can craft a better response. He fills the book with both simple and complex examples of how the two systems work and how we can operate more effectively by understanding how each system contributes to our grasp of reality and how we can craft an appropriate response.
  • The New Koreans by Michael Breen (2017). A British immigrant to South Korea, Breen has lived there for more than 25 years and offers a wonderful overview of the culture and makeup of this fascinating country. Beginning with the extreme poverty and backwardness of South Korea following the Korean War in the early 1950s, Breen demonstrates how the meteoric rise, development, and almost unprecedented economic performance of South Korea has transpired against the backdrop of a hostile neighbor to the north and east and an indifferent ally to the west.
  • Inside the Middle East by Avi Melamed (2015). This book looks at the complexity of issues that define the Middle East, providing a fascinating and daunting portrait of the long arc of civil and military unrest in the region. Melamed’s multi-dimensional analysis draws on his literary skill and vast, impressive personal research. I recommend reading this important perspective on the Middle East alongside other compelling works from different viewpoints to get a more complete understanding of the region. The book left me slightly demoralized and wondering if a settled peace is possible or if peace is only a brief interlude marking the passage of time before the next war.

Orientaion 2017

Welcoming Our New Students
Student Life (led by Edee Schulze, vice president for student life) and Parent Relations (led by Teri Bradford-Rouse, senior director of alumni and parent relations) worked well together to plan another successful Orientation. From the International Student Orientation that opened the week to the Service of Commitment on Friday afternoon, the entire event was incredibly well organized, designed and executed. Many people play a key role in this enterprise in addition to Edee and Teri, and they are too numerous to mention.

Statement on Charlottesville
At the prompting of several people affiliated with the college and with the blessing of Peter Thorrington, who chairs our Board of Trustees, I worked with Nancy Phinney to craft a college statement on Charlottesville. With so many issues at play, no single statement can cover them all, nor should it try to. I attempted to assert our opposition to all forms of racism and anchor our perspective in the wider lens of our Community Life Statement. Largely crafted by Professor Greg Spencer and enhanced and updated through the years, it’s the best statement I’ve ever seen produced by a college or organization describing how faculty, staff and students aspire to live in community for the greater good of our educational enterprise and the wider benefit of our society. I conclude my Presidential Briefing with a posting of the statement.

Response to Charlottesville, VA
Dr. Gayle D. Beebe, President
Westmont College
August 21, 2017

A week ago Saturday, I was attending a wedding in Northern California when events in Charlottesville, Virginia, rocked the nation. As we returned home and news seeped in, I was startled by the purpose of the protest, the protection provided under the First Amendment, and the negligence that allowed the situation to escalate to the point that an individual was killed simply by being a counter-protestor. I know I speak for the entire Westmont community when I state that we stand against racism in all its forms and particularly the violent racism displayed a week ago in Charlottesville. Racism has many sources, including twisted theologies that destroy the very fabric of our society. These are not and never have been viewed as acceptable expressions or “rights” of free speech. Hate speech in any form is always wrong and is never acceptable.

At Westmont, we’re guided by a community life statement that calls us to love one another and to practice civility as a basic ingredient of a healthy community. We learn how to practice integrity, confession, and forgiveness as we attempt to live in reconciled relationships with one another. We embrace and follow the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr., who exclaimed, “… hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We believe community is only built when we set aside our own self-centeredness to cultivate other-centered practices that nurture a love of neighbor. We also believe that all humans are created in the image of God, which includes the responsibility to value human presence, celebrate human creativity, and promote relationships based on the ideals of trust, compassion, and forbearance that lie at the heart of all human communities.

If we take to heart any lessons from the events in Charlottesville, let us resolve to cultivate the love and respect that thrives at the center of every life-giving community.


Gayle D. Beebe
President, Westmont College