I hope the first weeks after Commencement have already provided you an occasion to enjoy the evening sun over the Pacific or the I Madonnari chalk drawings in front of the mission. For some, I realize, the pace of work actually accelerates after graduation, as summer projects begin. A special thanks to everyone who is working diligently this summer to ensure that the renovated labs in Whittier will be ready by fall.

Before the sun fully sets on the academic year I am delighted to announce a couple more faculty appointments. This report also salutes the individuals who were selected this month for our annual teaching and research awards, and offers a glimpse of a few upcoming events.

The Provost's Report will be on vacation this summer, but should return in time to cover the next rainstorm in Santa Barbara, the start of the Fall Faculty Retreat, or FIFA's receipt of the Nobel Prize, whatever comes first.

Mark Sargent


Amanda silberstein


In the fall Amanda Silberstein will assume a post as an assistant professor in the Chemistry Department. After finishing her undergraduate work at Cal Tech, Amanda earned her doctorate at UCLA, and has spent the current year at Cal Tech as a postdoctoral scholar. Her present project examines the effectiveness and toxicity of polyamides targeting liver cancer in cell culture. It is a project that she has pursued in collaboration with Stiles Lab of USC. Amanda has won numerous fellowships during her graduate studies, and served as an intern at Genentech, Inc. in San Francisco and worked as a lab scientist for Advion Biosciences, Inc. in Ithaca, New York. "I grew up in an extended family of scientists and have always possessed a sense of wonder about the world around me," she writes. "It is the great privilege of research to do something new every day, to push the boundaries of human knowledge, capability and understanding just a little further. Rarely do we know how a particular line of reason advances the kingdom of God, but we do know that God consecrates it all . . . research is also an exercise in trust—trusting that God will use what we have discovered or made, while also knowing that the success or failure of the next reaction is not the point."

Martin Asher


Martin Asher, currently a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, will be joining Westmont’s Economics and Business Department in January of 2016. Raised in Santa Barbara, he completed his undergraduate degree at Stanford and his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Pennsylvania; he has taught at Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Villanova. At Wharton, he has been the director of the Research and Scholars program, and has taught the honors sections of both microeconomics and macroeconomics. He has also been recognized six times as the recipient of the William G. Whitney Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching. Formerly the vice president and principal of the Econsult Corporation in Philadelphia, he is currently the principal economist with Nathan Associates, Inc, a consulting firm. His most recent articles focus on unsuccessful settlement negotiations, antitrust policies, state and county incarceration rates, and earnings inequalities. He has often provided expert testimony on the economic implications of antitrust and discrimination cases.

Ed Song


The Provost's Office is pleased that Ed Song will serve as the Director of the Westmont NetVUE Initiative for 2015-16. The Lilly Foundation and the Council of Independent Colleges have funded this grant as part of their Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education. The project will enhance our ongoing efforts to prepare students for a successful launch from Westmont. As director, Ed will organize a series of workshops and symposia for students. Several of these events will feature some grant-sponsored chapel speakers, including Lauren Winner and Brittany Stringfellow. He will also oversee our pre-law advising, and will be expanding our support for students pursuing competitive post-baccalaureate fellowships such as Fulbrights. Serving on one of the strategic planning task forces, Ed will be working closely with Career Development & Calling and Internships, the Willard Center, Alumni and Parent Relations, and the Campus Pastor’s Office.

John Wilder


For the second year we have recognized a select few of our adjunct faculty for their teaching and service to the institution with the Adjunct Teaching Awards. All four of them were announced at the annual Employee Brunch. This year’s recipients include Melissa Blackford Ewart, a graduate of 1995, who has been an integral part of our Education Department, and is a respected local junior high teacher, a Common Core consultant, and an inspiring adjunct professor in our Secondary Curriculum and Planning course. John Tynan teaches finance and marketing for Westmont. He is the president and founder of his own company in town and has worked previously as vice president for planning and construction for Hyatt. Laura Walter, a flute instructor, has taught at Westmont for 20 years, and plays with the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra and Opera Santa Barbara. And finally, John Wilder (photo), an acclaimed Hollywood writer, has been teaching screenwriting at Westmont for 20 years. Congratulations to all four on their awards.



The first week of June will bring scores of guests to campus for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities' 2015 Commission on Technology Conference. Topics will explore the tension between academic tradition and technological innovation, digital fluency, information security, and "reappraising general education amidst the technological wipeout." Reed Sheard, Debra Quast, and Troy Harris will be among the presenters. I have been asked to host panels on two of the most thought provoking and innovative recent films about technology and human relationships: "Her" and "WALL-E."

Despite reducing our price per unit, Mayterm saw another decline in enrollment. The 1024 student credit hours ran 60 hours lower than last year—and 600 lower than our peak year in 2012. We will be taking a close look next fall at incentives, marketing and offerings to see if we can reverse that trend.

June and July will see the final revisions of our institutional report for WASC, which is due in late August. Our evaluation team will hold an off-site discussion in the fall and identify some further questions or themes that they want us to address, and then the team will conduct its site visit on campus on March 1-3, 2016.

The annual Gaede Institute "Conversation on the Liberal Arts" in the spring will focus on social entrepreneurship—a theme that highlights the opening of our downtown center and the Student Life Department's year-long focus on "Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement." The conversation will address the ways in which a liberal arts education equips students for positive social impact locally and globally through social entrepreneurship, political engagement and work in non-profit organizations. The title of the conference will be "From Inquiry to Impact: Social Transformation through Liberal Learning." Faculty who would like their fall or spring courses to connect with the theme and activities of the conference should get in touch with Chris Hoeckley.