Sunset over Thorrington Field is a stirring valediction, especially in the late spring when the evenings grow longer and the possibilities of summer emerge. On May 6, just up the hill on Russ Carr Field, more than 300 students walked across the Commencement stage and began to chase new possibilities of their own. As the rain burst, trustee Carol Houston challenged graduates not to "settle" but to "set roots deeper" in the faith. Westmont Medalist Patrick Enthoven—a South African citizen and former leader of Direct Relief—admitted that unsettling the status quo and worrying less about preserving privilege are at the heart of justice.

Russ Carr Field was also the scene recently when Daniel Butler became the winningest pitcher in Westmont's history. He can now look back on a career that includes a no-hitter and a win in the conference title-clinching game of 2014. One week before Commencement, Thorrington Field was the site of the Golden State Athletic Conference track and field championships. For the second time in three years, Westmont's men's and women's teams both claimed titles, this time quite convincingly (see below).

Westmont's musicians had their own victories recently as well when our instrumentalists swept the top three places at the Santa Barbara Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation competition. Erik Fauss (viola) took the top prize, followed by Lalia Mangione (violin) and Tim Beccue (cello). The competition not only features musicians from Santa Barbara, but also draws undergraduate and graduate performers from around Southern California. This month the Westmont Choir is in Italy and Austria, singing in Naples, Venice, Verona, Vienna, and Salzburg.

When I attended the Claremont Graduate University Commencement with my family recently, I also had the privilege of seeing Melinda Harriman receive her doctorate in Education. Now that she has reached that milestone, I hope there is a long, renewing walk for her—actually, for all of us—along the sandstone bluffs and eucalyptus, preferably just about sunset.

Mark Sargent signaure




Based on the approval of the faculty and the trustees, Westmont will launch a new major in Data Analytics in the fall. The Mathematics, Computer Science, and Economics faculty collaborated on the program, which blends classes from their three disciplines. This interdisciplinary (or cross-disciplinary) program has been designed to prepare students for the world of “big data.” 

Ray Rosentrater, Don Patterson, and Enrico Manlapig were the prime movers in shaping the proposal. They write, “Data is changing the way that decisions are being made. The ability to apply mathematical techniques and understanding to large sets of data is becoming ever more important . . . leaders of large corporations and policy makers are heavily dependent on analysts who can make sense of the massive amounts of information that are available and who can clearly communicate the salient features of that data.”  While many students have previously blended economic and mathematical knowledge in the study of “econometrics,” it is becoming increasingly apparent that the "theories and techniques of computer science are essential to understanding how massive data sets can be manipulated and interpreted."

The curriculum begins with a foundation in calculus, statistics, research and forecasting, microeconomics or accounting, computational problems, and concrete systems, and then moves into classes on database design, machine learning, management science, and game theory. A senior seminar in computer science caps it off.

It is a timely addition to our curricula. In a recent column, the editors of The Economist call data the "oil of the digital era." The five most valuable listed firms in the world—Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft—deal in data. "Whether you are going for a run, watching TV or even just sitting in traffic," The Economist observes, "virtually every activity creates a digital trace—more raw material for data distilleries." We see considerable value in placing this emerging interdisciplinary field in the context of a liberal arts education, where questions about data and meaning are continually surrounded by ethical, spiritual, and humanitarian contexts.



In addition to Data Analytics, the faculty and the trustees have approved a new minor in Global Studies. The minor brings together three different dimensions: an off-campus study semester, the new Global Studies Fellows Seminar (GSFS), and additional study in a foreign language. 

The GSFS began last fall; it is a yearlong program for students returning from off-campus study who wish to continue readings and research on global issues. The interdisciplinary seminar will draw in Westmont scholars from multiple fields with interests in diverse regions of the world. Students will also undertake a research project designed to stress the connections between the “global and the local”—a project that engages them in considering how worldwide economic, ideological, and cultural issues inform local communities and citizens. Cynthia Toms and I will co-teach the seminar in the fall.

This year's Global Fellows did some intriguing projects. For instance, Jenna Haring wrote a paper—"Contemporary Visual Art and Islamic Feminism"—which explores the work of Shirin Neshat, an Iranian contemporary artist and filmmaker, and which will be published in a journal of global studies. Amanda Sayre examined the motivations and spiritual development of young adults who undertake civic engagement, focusing on Westmont students volunteering on the East side through Urban Initiative. Bekah Beveridge, who audited the course in the fall, will be placed this summer with ANKURI (Agency for Non Konventional Urban Rural Initiatives), a group that seeks to empower rural women and children in the Uttrakhand society of northern India.


Congratulations to five Westmont faculty members who were granted promotions by the Board of Trustees at the May meeting.

Andrea Gurney and Tom Knecht will be full professors, starting in the fall semester. Andrea teaches clinical psychology, while Tom focuses on American politics. Three colleagues have advanced to associate professor: Kristi Lazar Cantrell teaches chemistry and leads the pre-med program; Sarah Jirek serves in the Sociology Department and oversees the clinical internship program; and Amanda Sparkman teaches evolutionary biology and studies environmental science. Be sure to commend all five of them for reaching these milestones.



Westmont is fortunate to have many high-caliber professionals who have been faithfully teaching as adjuncts for several years. At the annual Employee Brunch we recognized four of them with the Adjunct Teaching Awards for 2017. Below are some of the fine things said by those who nominated them for the honor:

John DouglasJohn Douglas (Music). From Michael Shasberger: "John has been our jazz instructor for the past ten years and also teaches jazz piano. John is an amazing creative force and a constantly buoyant spirit in our community. The Westmont Jazz Ensemble under his direction performs a major concert every semester and regardless of the odd mixture of instruments available, diverse levels of talent and experience, and facility and scheduling challenges, John always makes a great success of the event for our students. His piano students are highly appreciative of innovative approaches to style and repertoire." 

ann lippincottAnn Lippincott (Education and English). From her students: "I admire Ann’s community service coupled with her teaching. She has a wide sphere of influence and she lives out gratitude by serving others." "I would take an entire semester of just her classes if I could. 10/10." "Kind, thoughtful, and genuine, and I learned so much about teaching from her." "She relates the material in an engaging and applicable way, sharing its theoretical importance and concrete application in practice! She was personable and very accommodating."

marie schoefMarie Schoeff (Art). From Lisa DeBoer: "She gets high marks from students in helping them connect their faith to their work as artists. [Students commented] on how Marie's classes helped them understand how to cultivate virtues like patience and humility, how to connect doctrines like creation and incarnation to art, and how art-making could be aligned with lectio divina to become a way of prayer and communion with God. Truly impressive."

Ed SongEd Song (Philosophy, Political Science). From Jim Taylor: "Ed is an excellent classroom teacher. He consistently receives very high course evaluation numbers. I frequently see him talking animatedly to students during his office hours. Also, a number of our majors decided to major in philosophy because of his influence . . . He teaches courses for the Westmont Downtown program, he teaches the elective internship course, he works with pre-law students, and he helps faculty and students find out about scholarship, grant, and fellowship opportunities."



John Blondell (fall) and Alister Chapman (spring) have been elected to serve as vice chair of the Senate next year. Thanks to Lisa DeBoer for a good year of leadership in the role during the past two terms.

Mayterm currently features 16 courses that reached sufficient enrollments to be run, up slightly from the ten-year average of 15 and from the low mark of 11 in 2015. Online options continue to be major competition. According to the latest CIRP survey (the Cooperative Institutional Research Program), over a quarter of the students in our entering class of fall 2016 anticipate completing an online course during college.

The CIRP also reveals that three quarters of our new students anticipate completing a graduate degree. A fair share (39%) envision earning a doctorate or a professional degree (e.g., M.D., J.D.). That compares favorably to liberal arts colleges nationally.

Many of our students in the sciences who go on to advanced degrees spend a summer in the lab, working closely with faculty on research. This summer we have twenty-two students from all six departments of the Natural and Behavioral Sciences Division doing research in the field and in our own labs.



During the coming fall semester, Kim Notehelfer will fill the role of Interim Global Education Administrator. She will assume most of the duties carried by Barb Pointer, who will be away in the fall to co-lead the Europe Semester with Rick Pointer. Kim will be reporting to Patti Hunter, who will once again be the Co-Director of Global Education.

For the past seven months Kim has been serving as a part-time assistant to Barb in the Global Education Office, and has done work on campus as an ESL writing tutor. Sixteen years earlier she was an assistant for former Vice President of Student Life Jane Higa, and during the intervening years she and her husband Tim worked with Santa Barbara's International Students Incorporated, a ministry to students at UCSB, SBCC, and various language schools. Kim is a graduate of UC Davis, and spent several years in Japan with the Evangelical Covenant denomination as an English conversation instructor.



Every semester, Westmont Downtown students are asked to respond to challenges in our community. Local organizations present a problem that they are facing and the students have three weeks, working in groups, to come up with solutions which they then pitch back to the organizations’ stakeholders.

Fall 2016: Two physicians and a project coordinator from Sansum Diabetes Research Center invited the students to help them better publicize their smartphone app for mothers at risk for having children with gestational diabetes, getting it into the hands of those who could really use it. Three seniors—Holli Morrow (English), Bryce Cohen (Economics and Business), and Katie Skiff (Spanish; Economics and Business)—won the challenge with the photo and social media campaign Mas De Nueve Meses (“More than Nine Months”). Sansum began incorporating the students' campaign right away, using the slogan with donors at a November event.

Spring 2017: Staff from Uffizi Order asked the students to devise a way to make their non-profit financially sustainable in the communities that they serve. The winning group included Jordan Baldridge (History), Erin Erickson (Economics & Business), Daniel Kohl (Economics & Business), and Annaliese Yukawa (Political Science). They proposed an event space, called Unidos, that brings non-profits and social businesses together to rent space on the Westside while also providing a community hub for the neighborhood. Uffizi loved the idea and is currently working with the Free Methodist Conference to locate an appropriate site. They plan to launch Unidos in partnership with several other participating organizations by Fall 2018.


Ed Song has been helping us promote students' postbaccalaureate opportunities, and he reports a couple exciting options for two students. Sam Arrigo, who just graduated, will be joining the Peace Corps., doing Youth and HIV/AIDS capacity-building work in Botswana. He will be there for just over two years. Also, Samuel Muthiah won a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Award. His program, “Algebraic Methods of Computational Biology,” is at Texas A&M University.

Aria Hamann, class of 2016, has been awarded a prestigious graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation to support her Ph.D. studies in physics at Harvard University.

David Hunter's research students from last summer presented their work at the Southern California-Nevada Section Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) at CSU Northridge. McKalie Drown gave a talk entitled "Smoothing Binned Data by Recursive Subdivision: Estimating Income Inequality." Emma Donelson and Bethany Le presented a poster on "Using Quaternions to Improve Statistical Analysis in SO(3): A New Two-Sample Hypothesis Test for Orientation Data." These research projects were funded in part by the MAA's Tensor Foundation Women in Mathematics Grant. In addition, Russ Howell's student David Kyle gave a talk on his complex analysis research entitled "The Count of Monte Disco," while Kyle Hansen, Olivia Hughes, and Samuel Muthiah presented posters on their work in this semester's Problem Solving seminar.



In June, Sonya Welch will join the Records Office as the new Coordinator of Academic Support Services. She will focus much of her energy on coordinating academic advising. For the last eleven years Sonya has worked in the Admissions Office of Azusa Pacific University, primarily assisting students applying to the nursing programs. She earned a B.S. in Organizational Leadership and an M.A. in College Counseling and Student Development, both from APU. She has written for NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators), and has been the co-chair of the Spirituality and Religion Knowledge Community for NASPA. She loves traveling, sporting events, and live theatre.



Scoring 265 points, the men’s track and field team earned their fifth GSAC championship in a row, topping Vanguard by 56 points. The women’s track and field team also won the conference crown. While Westmont's women won 15 of the 22 events, the team defied predictions for a close meet because athletes at all levels did well. "It wasn't just a bunch of first places that won it," senior Becky Collier stated. "We had a lot of seventh and eighth place finishers and those points really racked up." Westmont's women piled up 89 points more than second-place Biola.

Westmont’s stars did put in some strong performances. Madison Herrera (photo) led the way by compiling 46 points, including victories in the long jump, 100-meter hurdles, 100-meter dash, and 200-meter dash. In 2016, Herrera placed third in the long jump at the national championship. Her jump to win the GSAC Championship this year was better than that third-place jump at the national championship last year. Collier, who is the defending national champion in the heptathlon, won the high jump and the triple jump. Taryn Phipps finished first in the 400-meter run and second in the 200. Other event winners included Brianna Stoppa (heptathlon), Chena Underhill (pole vault), Emily Parks (800), Kelly Collins (5000), and Emily Williams (10,000). One key to the convincing victory for the women was a clean sweep of the three relays.

On the men's side, Jackson Nemitz took the decathlon for the second-straight year. Eric Wong, defending GSAC Champion in the hammer throw, won again and improved his mark by 4.55 meters. Pedro Perez Espino claimed the 400-meter title, and then returned to finish second in the 400-meter hurdles. Michael Conant took second in both events of a tough double: 800 meters and 1500 meters. Jack Dickinson won the shot put, and then scored in the discus and hammer. Congratulations to Coach Russell Smelley and the athletes on their dual victory.


El puenteBRIDGES

Each May, the postscript to the spring semester is the Faith-Learning Seminar, organized this year by Eileen McMahon McQuade. Just over 20 faculty and staff devoted a week to examining homelessness, human trafficking, clean water, habitat restoration, language learning, and immigration in Santa Barbara.

One evening was spent at “El Puente”—or “The Bridge”—a workshop led by Immigrant Hope, an organization sponsored by Shoreline Community and Christ Presbyterian Churches. The course helps immigrants learn about health and nutrition, job opportunities, and the city's history. A principal goal is creating a sense of belonging—the promise of Romans 10:12 that those in Christ are neither Jew nor Greek. On our night, we simply listened to participants tell their stories, translated for us from Spanish, and recount their fears, struggles, and aspirations. High on that list of longings was their wish that we, as college professionals, would see them as hard-working residents and longtime neighbors.

During the summer we will be exploring more about how we can work with civic organizations and churches to become better neighbors with the most vulnerable in our community. Are there more imaginative ways of structuring classes and programs to promote not only learning for our students but also human flourishing in our community? Can we do so in ways that partner with others, and not simply project our own frameworks? Building curriculum, like building bridges, takes many hands, and the best architects often find inspiration in the vernacular.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]