T. S. Eliot famously described April as the "cruelest month." He was thinking of the stubborn grip of winter, the frozen soil that barely lets the lilacs free. Here, in our Mediterranean climate, April is more glorious than cruel, though I often wish it was the longest month. We can always use a little extra time to finish that to-do list before Commencement and to celebrate all of the good work of our seniors.

I've saluted a few outstanding student achievements below. Next month's to-do list includes the selection of new directors for the library and global education as well as an associate dean of the faculty. I am excited that we can announce a couple new faculty appointments this month.

Congratulations to Steve Julio, who was re-elected vice chair of the faculty at the last faculty meeting. Knowing that Steve is a big baseball fan, I thought we could celebrate together by watching Rob Ruiz's Westmont team (now ranked sixth in the nation). Afterwards, we can walk over to see the senior art show ("Primed," opening on April 7), take in part of the Fringe Festival, or catch one of the many distinctive lectures this month. I've highlighted a few of those lectures in the final section of the report.

Mark Sargent



Aria HamannJarett Catlin


Two seniors, both of them Monroe Scholars, have just been awarded Fulbright Scholarships for next year. Aria Hamann will conduct hydrology research at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. She will be working with Dutch professor Dr. Boris van Breukelen, and will undertake an independent research project to simulate Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR)—a promising method of securing a consistent freshwater supply. The result of the project will be the capacity to build efficient and accurate computer models of MAR, allowing for greater complexity and flexibility in simulations.

Jarrett Catlin, who finished coursework in December and is currently serving as an assistant with the Westmont in Istanbul Program, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Turkey. He is waiting on the specific location of his assignment in the country. Congratulations to both young scholars—and thanks to Ray Rosentrater and Ed Song for guiding them through the application process. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides rich opportunities for new graduates to be involved in global study, teaching, and service. If you know strong juniors who would be good candidates for such awards, please let Ray or Ed know. I'd love to see a cadre of Westmont students secure the awards each year.

Serah Shani


I am pleased to announce the appointment of Serah Shani as a new faculty colleague in anthropology. Currently a visiting professor at Eastern University, Serah completed her doctorate from Columbia University. She holds three master's degrees: one in the sociology of health and medicine from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, one in international and transcultural studies from Columbia, and another in anthropology and education, also from Columbia. A native of Kenya, she completed her undergraduate degree at Daystar University, concentrating on community development and music. She speaks five languages: English, Swahili, Maasai, Kisii, and Kikuyu. At present, Serah is conducting research on African immigrant parents and schooling in the United States, focusing on Ghanaians in New York City. That research will be the subject of her forthcoming book from the University of Minnesota Press.

Serah has lectured and taught at Yale, Southern Connecticut State, Cornell, and Columbia. Her presentations have explored many topics, including Islam, parenting, the African Diaspora, and water, sanitation and health concerns. "My research interests," she states, "lie broadly in exploring the social life of cities, and more particularly the informal and innovative strategies by which different ethnic and racial urban residents claim their rights to the city. My current research looks at urban migration, transnational movements, identities and the sociocultural economic adaptation for recent African immigrants to the United States."


eliz gardner


I am also glad to announce the appointment of Elizabeth Gardner as our new colleague in the Department of Communication Studies. A graduate of Houghton College, Elizabeth has earned her M.A. and her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, where she has also taught several classes in public speaking, rhetorical theory, argumentation, and oral communication. In 2014 Elizabeth received the National Communication Association's Bensen-Campbell Dissertation Research Award. She has been the managing director of the Oral Communication Program at the University of Maryland since 2013.

During the spring of 2015 Elizabeth was a consultant for the American Studies Program that is sponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities—a program that she attended during her undergraduate years. Her recent research has focused on social change and the rhetorical construction of childhood. Her dissertation examines the use of "argument in the night messenger service reform, a campaign in the anti-child labor movement of the early 1900s aimed at raising the minimum age for telegraph company messengers."


Tappy madeleineAaron wilk


Once again we have four students who will share the title of "First Senior." All four of them currently have 4.0 grade-point averages. As we did last year, all four of them will share a brief word of reflection at the annual Academic Awards Convocation on April 11. This is a time to honor many students—departmental award winners, Golden Eagle recipients, and others—for their excellence. At the Convocation, we will also formally recognize the founding of Westmont's latest honor society—a chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, the national honor society for music.

Two of the "First Seniors"—Madeleine Tappy and Aaron Wilk (photos)—were also chosen to be the student speakers at Baccalaureate. Madeleine is completing a distinctive major in Middle Eastern Studies. As part of those studies, she completed the Westmont in Istanbul Program. Aaron is a Chemistry/Physics/Music triple major. In addition to doing excellent scientific research and being accepted for graduate studies at Stanford, he is well known as an outstanding concert pianist. Along with Madeleine and Aaron, there are two transfer students who joined Westmont a little later in their academic careers but still kept up a 4.0 average during their studies with us. Dillon Montag is a Mathematics and Computer Science major, while Paul Wintz is majoring in Physics. Congratulations to all four 4.0's.

Westmont library


The Academic Senate has recently refined the policies related to academic integrity. Previously, there were multiple statements in different locations about academic dishonesty and varying procedures for reporting violations. For instance, faculty often had to use the "Plagiarism" form to report any form of academic dishonesty, even if the error was not technically plagiarism.

Thus, we have endeavored to blend all the relevant information into a common webpage. That page begins, not with suspicion, but aspiration—with a statement about the principles of integrity and respect that we value. When the site does address dishonesty, it distinguishes among three types—cheating, falsification, and plagiarism. You will also find there the essential procedures for both reporting and appealing violations. Faculty are entrusted with considerable discretion in determining the consequences for dishonesty, and encouraged to "use an infraction as an opportunity to help the student learn how to avoid such errors in the future." The webpage also contains the boilerplate statement on academic integrity that should be referenced or cited in all syllabi, along with some helpful information for students about avoiding plagiarism in their work. Regular adherence to these policies—including reporting violations—will ensure greater consistency in how we handle disciplinary cases and help nourish an academic culture of ethics and honor.



Next fall we are envisioning the launch of a new Global Studies Fellows Program—an opportunity for students returning from overseas studies to sustain their exploration of global issues. The heart of the program will be a Global Studies Seminar, taught by Cynthia Toms, for a cohort of 12-15 students. The course will be interdisciplinary in scope, revised annually, and help students develop research goals and ponder further study, service, and career opportunities related to global themes.

Reflecting the emerging field of "global studies," the seminar will focus on the reading and discussion of articles and books from a variety of disciplines. The course is also envisioned as a forum that brings together faculty who are engaged in thinking about global issues. Faculty from many fields—such as religious studies, political science, sociology, economics, biology, and history—will be invited to join the conversation to share their perspectives and expertise. The discussions will help students think in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary ways about contemporary challenges. Any faculty members with an interest in participating should contact Cynthia for more information.

The course will also explore methodologies for sound and ethical community-based research. Students will have an opportunity to complete an advanced research course or incorporate some global themes in their senior research projects within their majors. One of our other goals for this program is to help students who are returning from abroad find new ways of connecting to service and leadership opportunities at Westmont in their senior year, as we hope their maturation and growth during their global study will help enrich the conversations and initiatives within the community of learners in Montecito.


Winter Hall


Last month I listed the recipients of the first four Innovative Edges grants; we can now add two more departments to the roster. The grants support efforts to refine existing curricula to accommodate changes in the discipline and innovations in the workplace. The latest grant recipients are:

The Kinesiology Department will be updating its Fitness for Life course, developing new curriculum on mental health and integrating recent research on health and fitness. Faculty who teach the course will be exploring new models for the course structure, perhaps combining sections for guest lectures and incorporating the support of upper-level Kinesiology majors as teaching assistants.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology will use the grant for three projects. First, the department plans to reconfigure its sequence of research methods courses to more clearly delineate instruction in quantitative and qualitative methods. Faculty will also devote some energy to redesigning the senior capstone experience with an eye toward enhancing the focus on research and attention to post-graduation opportunities. Finally, the topic of a current anthropology course on Gender and Sex Roles in Cross-Cultural Perspective will be merged with a course that brings a sociological understanding of how gender functions as a key component of social stratification.




Westmont junior Becky Collier was recently named the NAIA West Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Twice Becky has finished in the top six in the heptathlon at the NAIA outdoor championships, and has earned as high as second place in the high jump. She is the school record holder in the high jump, and is among the top-10 all-time Westmont performers in seven events: the 60- and 100-meter hurdles, the long jump, triple jump, high jump, heptathlon and pentathlon. She recently finished third in the NAIA indoor nationals in the pentathlon, and has won All-American recognition nine times in her career.

Westmont head coach Russell Smelley was also recognized as the NAIA West Region Men’s Track & Field Coach of the Year, while assistant coach Josh Priester was named the NAIA West Region Women’s Track & Field Assistant Coach of the Year. Priester coaches Collier, as he oversees multi-event athletes and high jumpers.

Stan Rosenberg


April has a rich array of lectures on campus, several in the late afternoon. Here are some reminders of what is forthcoming:

In a year when we have selected several Augustinian Scholars for next fall, the annual Pascal Society lecture will have an Augustinian theme. Stan Rosenberg (photo), who directs the Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford program (which sponsors the Oxford Honors Semester for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities), will speak on "Augustine's Discovery of the Natural World and View of Natural Law" at 3:30 on April 11 (Winter 210). I have enjoyed working with Stan for many years, most recently on a Templeton-funded grant on faith and science. Both Jeff Schloss and Steve Contakes will be involved with the project this July when they are part of a workshop in Oxford. One day after Stan's address the Templeton Foundation is helping sponsor the performance at Westmont of Mr. Darwin's Tree, a one-man play about Darwin's intellectual journey.

On April 8 (3:30, Winter 210), Heejun Kim, one of Carmel Saad's mentors and a faculty member in brain sciences at UCSB, will speak on the role of culture and genetics in shaping social behaviors in a lecture entitled "Oxytocin, Culture, and Prosociality." One day earlier, on April 7, Bruce Fisk and Caryn Reeder will deliver the Westmont Downtown lecture (5:30, University Club) on "Violence in the Holy Land, Then and Now." And on April 13, Juraj Mao, a professor at Comenius University in Slovakia and a close associate of the Westmont in Northern Europe Program, will address "Cultures and Societies Shaped by Fear? Central Europe's Response to Recent Migration Flows" (3:30, Winter 210).

One final note. Some of the most compelling teaching experiences in my life took place in the federal prison in Jackson, Michigan, where I taught some literature classes to inmates. Those sessions truly impressed upon me the power of the liberal arts to develop a sense of purpose and dignity, even in the most restricted contexts. I am intrigued, then, by the final Reel Talk event of the year—a showing of "Prison State" on April 14, a documentary about mass incarceration in the United States. It will take place at 7:00 (Adams 216).