Rincon pointHenry James once said that "summer afternoons" are "the two most beautiful words in the English language." I might opt for a morning or afternoon in late May or early June, when it is not officially summer yet but the plans and journeys of summer are in motion. Mayterm is nearing the finish line, with 195 students enrolled in 16 classes (down slightly from last year’s record high of 21 classes). Another 40 students are taking Westmont’s courses off campus this summer in Cambodia, England or San Francisco. The women’s soccer team just returned from 16 days of service and “friendlies” in Nairobi, Kampala and the town of Gulu in northern Uganda. Right after Commencement 53 members of the College Choir and Chamber Singers took a road trip from Santa Barbara to the Rockies, singing in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Later this summer 24 members of the choir will perform in Pittsburgh at the National Conference of the North American Lutheran Church.

This summer there are 73 students, spread across 14 teams, who are on Emmaus Road. They are serving in Guatemala (aftercare for abuse & trafficking victims), Bolivia (medical), Spain (arts/theater), Israel (reconciliation), Uganda (community development), Nepal (education and agricultural development), China (orphan care and ESL), Japan (disaster relief), Indonesia (business), Madagascar (reforestation and public health), the Philippines (urban slums), and Taiwan/Korea (music and leadership).

I trust your summer months will be filled with some invigorating projects and some time for renewal.

Mark Sargent


Cynthia Toms Smedley


I am pleased to announce the appointment of Cynthia Toms Smedley as the new Director of Global Education. As Cynthia undertakes this new role, I also want to use this occasion to express appreciation to Bill Wright for his dedicated service as Director of Off-Campus Programs for many years.

Currently the Assistant Director of the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, Cynthia has been overseeing the international academic immersion courses for over 1000 graduate and undergraduate students annually. For three years she served as the Associate Director and a faculty member at the Uganda Studies Program (sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities), and has previously taught at Peking University and Huija Private College in China. A biology major at Messiah College, she completed an M.S. degree at Boston University in applied anatomy and physiology, and spent a year working for the United States Olympic Committee in a performance laboratory. [continue reading...]

Caryn Reeder


The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has selected Caryn Reeder to receive a prestigious Fulbright award for research in the West Bank of the Palestinian Territories. Caryn’s research will examine “women, children, and war in biblical and classical antiquity”; she will consider the “realities and rhetoric of violence,” both in ancient texts and the modern world. The Fulbright award will provide considerable support for Caryn’s plan to take a year-long sabbatical during 2013-2014. For her project, Caryn returns to a familiar region. She lived in Jerusalem when the Al-Aqsa Intifada broke out in 2000, and she recalls how she “witnessed some of the effects of the conflict in Bethlehem: bombed buildings, my Palestinian friends’ fears, news reports of injured adults and children, closed border crossings . . . ” Previously, she has taught at Bethlehem Bible College, and worked for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Commendations, Caryn, on this wonderful honor and opportunity.

Dave Odell


For the first time in the last two decades, Westmont has won the All-Sports Title for the Golden State Athletic Conference. Congratulations to Athletic Director Dave Odell and all of the coaches and staff for earning this award, which is given to the institution with the highest average finish in the conference standings in all of its sponsored sports. A strong spring season, with conference titles in men’s track and field and women’s tennis, pushed Westmont to the top, edging Concordia University. Nine of Westmont’s twelve teams finished in the top three of the conference (both cross country teams, both basketball teams, both track and field teams, both tennis teams, and women’s soccer). Along with their conference title, the women’s tennis team ended the year with the highest average grade point average among Westmont’s teams at 3.33, followed closely by men’s cross country (3.28), women’s soccer (3.23), and women’s cross country (3.21).

James Smith


For the week of May 20-24 numerous faculty met in a seminar with Calvin College’s James ("Jamie") K. A. Smith (photo), author of Desiring the Kingdom, Imagining the Kingdom, and Teaching and Christian Practices. The objective of the seminar was to help us think about what role Christian practices and worship could play in both our pedagogy and in the larger life of the college.  The seminar included faculty finishing their first year at Westmont sitting alongside faculty who have been here for decades; chemists, theologians, historians, English faculty, Communication Studies professors, philosophers, computer scientists, mathematicians, a resident director, a librarian, etc. Patti Hunter reports: “If getting through a particular syllabus were really important, then we would have been in trouble.  At the slightest provocation, any one of us could be counted on to ask a question, raise a concern, or push back on someone's argument, carrying the whole conversation down some unmarked trail.  Jamie seemed to be enjoying the jaunt as much as any of us.”

Westmont entrance


I am delighted that several colleagues will be continuing next year in one-year appointments. Holly Beers will serve again as an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies while Caryn Reeder is away on sabbatical and her Fulbright assignment. Two searches—in Sociology and Kinesiology—are continuing next year, and two of our colleagues will fill one-year appointments while those searches proceed. Rachel Winslow, who taught in an adjunct role last year, will step in as an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department for the coming year, while Tom Walters will continue to teach in Kinesiology. Economics and Business will also be also be continuing searches; our coverage plan for next year in the department is still awaiting some final touches.