champsWhat a wonderful story about Kirsten Moore and the women's basketball team on the front page of the L.A. Times for Easter Sunday! And such a fine tribute to all those who supported her through this challenging year. I was in Uganda during the first part of the NAIA tournament. On a few nights I cracked my door open to catch the wireless link, remembering to pull the mosquito netting around the bed. That enabled me to keep at least a red eye on the Live Stats from Frankfort, Kentucky. I got home in time to join the crowd in El Tejado and to watch the team lift the trophy. It was an extraordinary moment: not only did the team thrive in the tight moments, but Kirsten and her players also responded with such graciousness and dignity in every press conference. Congratulations.

In this report I've saluted some other student-athletes—the Golden Eagle recipients. There are also some quick updates on various academic decisions and ongoing projects as well as a few reflections on my time in Uganda, where I was helping with a program review. I trust that your Easter was a time of reverence and blessing.

Mark Sargent


Alison Hensley


On April 3 Westmont will once again host a banquet honoring recipients of the “Golden Eagle” awards. These are given to the student-athlete in each sport with the highest level of academic accomplishment. Here’s this year’s line-up, with comments by their coaches:

Women’s Soccer: Alison Hensley (photo), a mathematics and Spanish major, 3.96 gpa. Coach Kiely: “Alison is one of the most talented human beings I know. She’s demanding yet gracious, confident yet humble, coachable, hardworking, and the ideal student-athlete.”

Men’s Soccer: Daniel Johnsen, an undeclared major, 3.72 gpa. Coach Wolf: “Daniel’s determination and work ethic set him apart. He has thrown himself headlong into each Westmont endeavor and continues to thrive and experience success in all areas of life.” [continue reading...]

Sharon Tang-Quan


I am pleased to announce that Sharon Tang-Quan has accepted a position in the Department of English. After concluding her undergraduate work at UC Berkeley, Sharon finished her master’s degree at UCSB. She will earn her doctorate at UCSB this summer, completing a dissertation entitled "Transpacific Utopias: The Making of New Chinese-American Immigrant Literature, 1945-2010." To help introduce her to the community, we asked her a few questions.

What led you to pursue a doctorate in English? "I learned to love literature at an early age. My parents read frequently when I was young; our trips to the library were always a treat. I love how literature enables me to enter into the imaginative world of authors as I try on new perspectives . . ." [continue reading...]

Steve Cook


After 32 years, Steve Cook is retiring this spring from his post in the English Department. His interests as a scholar and a teacher have covered a wide scope, ranging from the novels of John Steinbeck to the literature of the Holocaust to contemporary film. On four occasions, Steve led the England Semester, and he has remained highly active in literary societies and colloquia. Since his greatest love has been working with students, we asked a few recent students to share some memories of his classes.

Akela Amada ('12): "He was my favorite professor. Ever. Everyone told me stories about him before I took a class from him, and they would say that he was the scariest, strictest professor ever. But on the first day of class, when professors usually ask mundane questions like "what is your favorite book," he asked us what our least favorite book was and why. . ." [continue reading...]

Alister Chapman


With just over a month remaining until Commencement, I thought I would offer some quick updates and brief summaries of the projects that have been launched and will remain in motion.

At their latest meeting the faculty elected Alister Chapman (photo) to serve as the Vice Chair of the Faculty for 2013-14. Congratulations to Alister on this affirmation from his peers.

At the same meeting the faculty also approved a new Northern European semester-abroad program, which will be offered as a pilot by Chris Hoeckley and Cheri Larsen Hoeckley during the 2014-16 fall semesters. The program will focus on Berlin, Birmingham, and Northern Ireland, as well as on themes of conflict and peacemaking.

The Provost's Office is sponsoring a faith/learning seminar in the mornings on May 20-24, featuring James K. A. Smith, author of Desiring the Kingdom. The seminar is entitled "From Christian Scholarship to Christian Pedagogy: A New Conversation in Christian Higher Education." It will explore new ways of thinking about just what makes a college or university "Christian," focusing not just on content but also on the ends of education and the pedagogical practices we employ. If you are interested in attending, please contact Patti Hunter. [continue reading...]

Easter in Uganda

UCUEntebbe International Airport spreads over a peninsula that juts into Lake Victoria. Near the U.N. runway several old planes—retired from service—filled a grassy field. Along Kampala Road, posters on palm trees announced an Easter sunrise service. We would be gone by Easter, but I could imagine standing along Entebbe's thin strand and watching the day break over the small islands to the east. Unless the mist gathers over the lake, Easter celebrants can always turn southward and look over the equator, or what Ugandans often call "the Line."

Three weeks ago the Catholic cardinals crossed that line by electing the first pope from the southern hemisphere. I heard about the white smoke at the Vatican from Elly Twineo Kamuguisha, a policy analyst from Kampala. During a guest lecture at Uganda Christian University, Kamuguisha mentioned the breaking news about the Argentine pontiff, even as he argued that Africa needed economic development before it could pursue democratic reforms. He wanted to bolster African banks and initiative, drawing investors from the African diaspora rather than relying on Western aid or charity. Yet it was Kamuguisha—with all his qualms about philanthropy—who told me that the first Jesuit pope in modern times had taken the name Francis, largely because of his empathy with the poor.

[continue reading...]