The word “diploma,” embraced in the seventeenth century to describe college attainment or state papers, has a relatively simple origin in Greek and Latin. It literally means a paper folded double. As those papers conferred more and more privileges, they eventually sparked a new French term: “diplomatie.” Colleges and universities don’t usually fold diplomas these days, but we do hope our students will display many diplomatic skills. About 300 graduates will receive Westmont diplomas this May. I trust that their lives will be notable for discernment, empathy, wisdom, and imagination—a will to find humane and honorable solutions to the challenges they encounter. The last weeks of the academic year are always a whirlwind of tasks, but preparations for the celebration and ritual of Commencement also remind me that it is truly a privilege to learn and to serve with those who pursue liberal arts diplomas. It is not a privilege we protect merely for ourselves but a compulsion to think more fully about how to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

As we celebrate the Class of 2016, this report highlights a few more student accomplishments, and as usual notes many of the achievements of faculty and staff. I hope there is some joy in the paperwork—and in the people it represents—in these final days of the academic year.

Mark Sargent signaure





Eileen McMahon McQuade has been appointed to the new role of Associate Dean of the Faculty. In this half-time position, she will join the Provost's Office, while continuing to teach half-time in the Biology Department. Among several duties, Eileen will manage the professional development program for faculty, give oversight to the orientation and development of new full-time and part-time faculty, design and guide several academic events, and serve as a liaison to various offices. Eileen holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been a member of the Westmont faculty for twelve years, serving as chair of the Biology Department and as Vice Chair of the Faculty. She has been a member of the WSCUC Steering Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, and the President's Futures Group. A scholar on rheumatoid arthritis, she received the Faculty Research Award in 2009 and was named the Outstanding Teacher of the Year for the Natural and Behavioral Sciences in 2012. I very much look forward to Eileen joining our team on June 1. She will assume several of the duties performed in recent years by Patti Hunter, who is moving into a full-time role as Vice Provost after the departure of Bill Wright this summer.

Christopher Sue


Each year a few top students choose to undertake "Major Honors" projects, resulting in substantial theses or research endeavors under the guidance of faculty members. We were able recently to celebrate the six students who will receive this honor at graduation. Alexandra Airy (Political Science) studied issues of statelessness and gender discrimination perpetuated by Lebanon's citizenship laws that prevent women from passing their citizenship to their children. Hannah Early (Political Science) explored the impact of U.S. aid on the legal systems of Israel-Palestine. Through his study of a genetically modified strain of mice, Tyler Paras (Biology) focused on determining the role of intestinal bacteria on disease onset and severity. Annmarie Rodriguez (English) analyzed John Steinbeck's East of Eden and Alice Walker's The Color Purple, comparing the authors' rendering of freedom. Christopher Sue (photo, Chemistry) used a laser to study the interaction of dissolved molecules with the surface of glass. Researching the Bordetella bacteria, Aaron Wilk (Biology) discovered a significantly updated paradigm for understanding the processes by which the bacteria cause infection, respond to signals in the lungs, and evade an immune response.


Don Patterson


Don Patterson has released an online course on making games on iOS devices called "Games, Sensors and Media" through the Coursera online learning system. The course—which includes 40 lectures, 4 projects, and 1 exam—covers topics from geofences and device orientation sensors to playing sound and making particle emitters and to running the physics engine and interfacing with Game Center.

This is the fourth course in an online series of six mini-courses that are being prototyped for a Westmont Mayterm course this year. As Don observes, "the last part of the course uses as a running example a version of BreakOut that I affectionately call 'Deep Space Jail Break.' My family is sick of play testing it." You can check out the course here.



Ogechi Nwaokelemeh, who joined us in a part-time role last spring, will assume a one-year, full-time post in the Kinesiology Department in the fall. In 2015 she finished her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, after completing an M.S. from Howard University and a B.S. from the University of Texas, Austin. She has studied and worked extensively with exercise for preschoolers, and has been a lab technician in the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor University.

Ogechi has also just been accepted into the American College of Sports Medicine's Leadership and Diversity Training Program. The program is designed to increase diversity within ACSM leadership. As a Level 3 participant, Ogechi will receive registration and travel expenses to the ACSM’s annual meeting in May. She will be assigned a mentor (an ACSM Fellow) to aid in publication and research efforts as well as participate in service and committee work with her mentor.



One of the most impressive events of each spring semester is the annual Research Symposium—and this year it was an especially robust exhibit of student posters, theses, and projects. Sixty-one students, participating in forty-one projects, displayed their work in Winter Hall. As always, there was a rich array of projects from the Natural Sciences, yet it was also encouraging to see so many other disciplines contribute exhibits, inluding numerous selections from Sociology, Psychology, and Communication Studies. Thanks to Allan Nishimura and Heidi Henes-Van Bergen for their considerable work in organizing the event this year.

This semester the Provost's Office also invited several faculty members to be a part of an initiative to encourage more interdisciplinary conversation. We thought it would be intriguing for students to see professors engaging one another within a classroom setting. Six faculty members shared their experiences with the project during the last Faculty Forum of the year. Don Patterson invited Felicia Song into his Computer Science senior seminar to discuss the book Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest. They considered how sociologists approach the problem of digital advertising as opposed to computer scientists, and explored various opinions about targeted advertising. From their different disciplinary vantage points, they examined strong and weak actors in obfuscation—including such topics as the moral high ground, retroactive justification, the state vs. the corporation, and criminals vs. freedom fighters. Along the way, they ventured onto such topics as digital profiles, Spotify, and Ashley Madison. Chris Milner invited Mary Docter to join her Special Populations class, which included students who had studied with Mary in the Westmont in Mexico program. They considered how the concept of "locus of control"—common in American psychological discourse—is seen differently when viewed through a lens of cultural anthropology. Lisa DeBoer joined Caryn Reeder's Church in the New Testament class, and she brought along the recent Nairobi document on church and culture; that led into a conversation on church architecture, art, and worship, and how theology gets formed in the intersection of these areas. An expanded version of this initiative—with more opportunities for visiting one another's classes—will be introduced in the fall.


Jesse Covington


The first class of Augustinian Scholars will have the opportunitiy to take a special seminar during their initial semester at Westmont. Designed and taught by Jesse Covington, the four-credit course is entitled "Augustine and the Christian Tradition I: Faith Seeking Understanding." The class will offer an introduction to the thought of St. Augustine and a variety of key thinkers in the broader Christian tradition, particularly as they bear on the educational endeavor and the Christian life. In this respect, the seminar will seek to welcome students into a Christian liberal arts education, and help them appreciate its breadth, unity, communal nature, and relation to practices and affections. Students will be invited to see the Christian life (including their collegiate years) as a pilgrimage or journey, as the class examines spiritual practices, the cultivation of virtues, and life in community. Jesse will often be tapping Westmont faculty members to join the class discussions as guest lecturers or commentators.

The Augustinians will also be encouraged to complete a spring semester sequel to the course, entitled "Augustine and the Christian Tradition II: Pilgrim Citizens." This course will probe the nature, limits, and interrelation of the church, societal institutions, and government. Such inquries will explore basic concepts such as citizenship, justice, love, responsibility, and free will. It will probe the notions of calling, vocation and faithfulness, and offer both an invitation and a challenge for students to know, love, and serve the world. A vital goal of this first year for the Augustinian Scholars will be to help the students identify various ways of becoming integrated into the Westmont community and to ensure that they take advantage of the rich array of opportunities of working and serving with faculty, staff and peers.

Jennifer Taylor


Jennifer Taylor will be taking on new responsibilities as a Student Support Counselor. Devoting equal time to the Records Office and the Office of Disability Services, Jennifer will bring her considerable knowledge of Westmont and her commitment to student success to several roles supporting students in these areas. Her work in the Records Office will focus on advising and counseling transfer students, making sure that their transition into the academic program goes smoothly. She will support the Office of Disability Services by assisting with exam proctoring, training, and accommodation provision. Jennifer earned a B.A. from UC Davis and her master's degree from UCSB. She has worked at Westmont since 1998, serving in the areas of institutional research, the Records Office, and for the last 12 years as the director of internships and practica.



In April Westmont held its twenty-second annual Golden Eagle banquet to honor the top student in each of the varsity athletic programs.

Heading the list was Haley Strandness (photo), who was also named Westmont's Scholar-Athlete of the Year at the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table. A member of the women's tennis team, Strandness is a Biology major with a 3.89 GPA, an inductee into the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society, and a volunteer at the Ty Warner Sea Center. She was recently victorious playing in the number two doubles spot at the GSAC tournament. The following students also were Golden Eagle recipients for 2015-2016:

Albert Gastalso, Men's Track and Field (Economics, 3.25); Melissa McCormick, Women's Track and Field (Liberal Studies, 3.78); Tommy Nightingale, Men's Tennis (English and Religious Studies, 3.60); Sydney Striff, Women's Volleyball (Kinesiology, 3.48); Nathan Evans, Men's Cross Country (Economics and Business, 3.67); Alisa Johnson, Women's Cross Country (Kinesiology, 3.74); Michael Rishwain, Baseball (Kinesiology, 3.20); Stefan Inouye, Men's Basketball (Kinesiology, 3.83); Lauren McCoy, Women's Basketball (Political Science, 3.63); Carly Richardson, Women's Soccer (Kinesiology, 3.87); Nate Ruble, Men's Soccer (Chemistry, 3.50).


Robert Ruiz


It's been two strong months for Westmont's teams, as the Warriors came ever so close to claiming Golden State Athletic Conference titles in all spring sports. For the first time since 1989, Westmont's baseball team became the sole possessor of the GSAC regular season crown. Coach Rob Ruiz (photo) took over a baseball team in 2009 that had gone 9-34 and 16-31 in its previous two seasons; his team has now won more than 40 games during the past two years. They earned the regular season title and the right to host the conference tournament with a 12-3 victory over Menlo on April 29. It was the team's eleventh straight conference win. Westmont will also host the NAIA regional baseball tournament.

Both tennis teams claimed a share of the regular season conference crown. The women's team, coached by Kendyll McManigal, shared the regular season title with Arizona Christian, and then swept Arizona Christian 5-0 in the finals of the conference tournament. Lauren Stratman won the number one singles match and was part of the number one doubles victory. The men's team, coached by Mark Basham, shared the regular season title with San Diego Christian, but fell to Lewis and Clark in the finals of the conference tournament. In track and field, the men's team earned their second-straight title quite decisively, winning five of eight field events and the decathlon. The women's team was just narrowly edged by Biola in the conference meet (286 to 284.5 points). One of the highlights for Russell Smelley's team was the total of 38 points from Madison Herrera, who won the long jump, the 200-meter dash, the 100-meter hurdles, and was part of the winning 4x400 relay team. She also finished second in the 100-meter dash and the 4x100 relay. Herrera (long jump), Becky Collier (high jump), and Jack Nemitz (decathlon) all met the "A standard" in qualifying for national competition.


Kyle Wells


Congratulations to Kyle Wells—adjunct faculty member at Westmont and pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara—for receiving the 2016 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise from Heidelberg University's Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology. The award honors doctoral dissertations or first postdoctoral monographs selected from around the world. Kyle, whose doctoral work has been at the University of Durham, was recognized for his book Grace and Agency in Paul and Second Temple Judaism: Interpreting the Transformation of the Heart (Leiden: Brill, 2015). His book explores how convictions about God’s grace relate to conceptions of human agency in Paul's thought and that of his Jewish contemporaries.