ShakespeareThis April marks the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth and baptism, so I am borrowing some of his words to make a few sections of this report more lustrous. Or perhaps more foolish. The word “lustrous,” after all, first appears in a speech by the fool of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. There's plenty of luster in the work of our colleagues and students, including the 367 graduates in the Class of 2014. Thinking of the stage, I am delighted to congratulate Elizabeth Pazaski for winning second place in the Kennedy Center's national collegiate competition for theatre criticism; she received the honor for an essay on an Italian production of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Congratulations as well to alum Stephen Lee, who has just been awarded a Fulbright scholarship for research in Korea. In this report I have highlighted several other achievements by our students, and I hope you take time to commend them.

As usual, there are also a few updates from our halls of academe (yes, also coined by Shakespeare, in Love’s Labour Lost). With the semester winding down, let me say "thank you" to Russ Howell, who has completed two fine years as chair of the Academic Senate, and who always approached his work with Westmont's curriculum as a labor of love.

Mark Sargent


Holly Beers


Holly Beers, who is returning next year to teach in the Religious Studies Department, will also serve as the director of the Catalyst Program. Catalyst—which has been led by Telford Work in recent years—is not a typical collegiate honors program, with elite students cloistered in separate sections or schools. Instead, honors students are invited to special events that serve as catalysts to move them into an array of learning and leadership opportunities at Westmont, such as honors in the major, the Potter’s Clay core team, and teaching assistantships, etc. As learners, we know what we are, but know not what we may be; the Catalyst Program strives to support students in their process of becoming. I'm looking forward to the innovations that Holly will bring. For a fuller description of Catalyst, click here.



This year the annual dinner for Major Honors students will not be a case of we few, we happy few: the Class of 2014 has more than twice as many students who completed Major Honors projects than we saw last year. The Chemistry and Biology Departments accounted for seven of the thirteen projects. Brittany McHarque worked on multiple Bordetella bronchiseptica strains, while Jacob West did research on immune mechanisms regulating clinical disease in mice. Elizabeth Grossman studied the adsorption of charged molecules into a surface modified by various chemical gradients. One biology student, Stephanie Brooks, pursued an interdisciplinary endeavor on the language of the “cancer war." Among Humanities projects, Tanner Lowe examined the Semitic influences on the language of the book of Revelation, while Annie Kyle looked at the intersection of Catholic and Protestant ideas in the poetry of John Donne. For a summary of all thirteen projects, click here.

Timothy VanHaitsma


Timothy VanHaitsma, currently on the faculty of Georgetown College in Kentucky, will join the Kinesiology Department next fall. A graduate of Calvin College, Timothy finished his M.S. in kinesiology from Indiana University and is completing his doctorate this spring at the University of Utah in exercise and sports science. His research focuses on the sensation of fatigue in cyclists, on multiple sclerosis, and on chronic fatigue syndrome. Vince Lombardi once famously said that “fatigue makes cowards of us all,” though researchers claim that coaches often should interpret their athletes' weariness with more conscience and care. VanHaitsma studies how the sensation of fatigue actually protects the body from irreparable harm. He has worked with colleagues and students on several articles and poster presentations, and will help bolster the student research program in the Kinesiology Department.

Molly Riley


Next year’s general assessment theme will be “information literacy,” one of the five “outcomes” that WASC requires us to appraise. Molly Riley, our Instructional Research Services Librarian, has agreed to serve as the “Lead Assessment Specialist.” She will work with the Program Review Committee to examine how thoughtfully our students can engage information in our technology-saturated world, as well as how wisely they can cipher what is writ in learned books. Congratulations also to the Voskuyl Library staff for receiving the Program Review Committee’s award for a high-caliber six-year program review report. Information literacy will follow this year’s emphasis on critical thinking, led by Jim Taylor.

Charlie Farhadian


Next fall Charlie Farhadian will take a semester-long leave of absence to serve as the Underwood Professor of Divinity at Yonsei University. Located close to metropolitan Seoul, Yonsei is the oldest private university in Korea, and it now enrolls nearly 30,000 students. The professorship is named for Horace G. Underwood, who in 1885 founded Joseon Christian College, the precursor of Yonsei University. The brother of John Underwood (famous for the typewriter company), Horace started Korea's first organized Christian church (the Saemoonan Church), the Korean YMCA, and the Korean Bible Society. Often at large universities the liberal arts are more honored in the breach than in the observance, but Yonsei has a vigorous liberal arts program in its international college. Charlie will be teaching courses in missiology in the College of Theology and the United Graduate School at the university. He will be the youngest person ever to hold the Underwood chair.

Toya Cooper


This spring Toya Cooper (photo) and Mariah Valasquez have hosted a film series for staff members, focusing on cinematic works about racial and cultural divisions. Eight staff members have gathered for conversations about seven films—and, yes, some food at Toya’s place. The series started with the documentary Race: The Power of an Illusion, and concluded with a visit to the theatre for the new biopic of Cesar Chavez. Through films, the series has sought to create greater awareness around race relations in society and on campus. All of us are susceptible to the disease of not listening, the malady of not marking the concerns of others, and those in the group have seen the series as a valuable springboard for more self-reflection and more empathetic and transparent discussion. In addition to Toya and Mariah, participants have included Juan Angel, Peter Hansen, Robin Lang, Leif Nunneley, Nicolasa Vargas, Joan Wimberly and Diane Ziliotto . The series is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Administration and Planing and the Office of the Provost. A second group is being launched in May.

student research


If you were not able to attend the Academic Convocation or the 18th Annual Student Research Symposium, you can still get a glimpse of the events—at least in your mind’s eye—by reading the programs. In the last two years tributes to department award recipients have been printed in the Convocation program, allowing students to share these words with their families and others unable to attend click here. Coordinated by Warren Rogers, the Symposium featured 35 posters, prepared by 50 students (click here). Thanks to Barb Kennedy and Heidi Henes-Van Bergen, who synthesized all of these materials into the booklets.

Jenny Martinez


For the 20th consecutive year the Athletic Department celebrated its student-athletes at the Golden Eagle Awards Dinner. The Golden Eagle is given to the top student in each of the varsity sports. Since the women’s soccer club had two unusually strong students this year, there were co-winners of the team’s award. Here’s a quick summary of the recipients, with comments by their coaches:

Women’s Soccer: Jenny Martinez, a senior Kinesiology and Communication Studies major, carries a 3.91 GPA and was named an NAIA Scholar-Athlete. Coach Kiely proclaims that Jenny was “a dream to coach . . . She has taught us what a fiercely committed competitor looks like, reminded us of the importance of service, and brought us alongside her as she strives for excellence.” [continue reading]

Lisa Deboer


Earlier this month Lisa DeBoer gave the concluding plenary address at the annual conference of the Abraham Kuyper Center at Princeton Theological Seminary. She spoke on “Worlds of Art in Art Worlds.” The center honors the legacy of Dutch theologian, pastor and politician Abraham Kuyper, whose Stone Lectures at Princeton in 1898 helped reinvigorate Calvinism as an intellectual force in the modern era. Shortly after her return to Westmont, Lisa offered a Faculty Forum presentation on a series of Rembrandt prints that have been given to Westmont by Howard and Fran Berger of Beverly Hills. Judy Larson and Lisa worked to secure the gift, which was granted in part because of Westmont’s identity as a faith-based institution. Her presentation, “Rembrandt’s Jews in Context,” stressed some of the cultural and social factors behind the creation and the collection of the prints. Lisa also surveyed recent scholarly efforts to reappraise Rembrandt, an artist often obscured by his own towering reputation—for some an idle and most false imposition and for others the immortal part of his legacy.

Shakespearean Footnotes: [click here]