During autumn in New England Arlyne and I often drove by the pumpkin patches and cranberry bogs or took friends to Plymouth Rock, which is small enough to strike most visitors as, well, much ado about nothing.

By the way, I very much enjoyed Mitchell Thomas’s inventive staging of Shakespeare’s play (including Randy VanderMey as Leonato, Duke of Messina) during Westmont's 75th anniversary events. In this report I have highlighted some of the creative work done for the show and other events related to the anniversary. There are also some excerpts from the faculty panel held during the Provost's Installation in early October. Rereading those excerpts—and the accomplishments in the column on the right—reminds me how grateful I am for my new colleagues this Thankgiving.

For the first few days of November I will be in Texas for the Christian College Consortium meeting and then on a project for the CCCU in Oxford. I will save one day to meet up with Westmont's England Semester. I'll catch them in Norwich, home to the Pilgrims’ beloved pastor John Robinson. Although Robinson never boarded the Mayflower, he did send letters of spiritual counsel to those who stepped on Plymouth Rock. Or did they? The Rock and its quirky history are a prompt for some reflections on gratitude below.

Blessings for a wonderful season of Thanksgiving.

Mark Sargent


75th anniversary logo

Creativity at the 75th

Westmont's Diamond Jubilee was a wonderful celebration of the liberal arts—and the fine ones. During the past week I have talked with a few of the artists about the creative work that accompanied the anniversary. Asked to compose a new "Fanfare" for the Gala, Steve Butler sought to capture both the "joie de vivre" and a sense of the trials that have been a part of our history. There's an "exuberance" on campus, Steve claimed, as well as "scars on the trees from the fire." If the Fanfare was buoyant, it was also mindful of the "sobering level of prayer, steadfastness, and perseverance that has undergirded the existence of . . . [continue reading...]

Europe Semester

Europe Semester

Rick and Barb Pointer have just welcomed Bill Wright and Jane Higa, who have joined the Europe Semester for a few days. Together they are exploring how we can continue to craft the “residential plank” of our global programs. After weeks on the road, Rick reports that the group is still full of energy. He offers the following glimpse into their experiences in France and Itay: “Father Dominic and Silvano Agosti are two new friends our Europe Semester 2012 group have made during the first eight weeks of our learning adventure. [continue reading...]

Moral Imagination

Faculty Perspectives on the "Moral Imagination"

On October 3, after the Provost’s Installation ceremony in the morning, Westmont's Alum of the Year Stan Gaede joined several faculty for a discussion on how we might “awaken the moral imagination.” Nine different faculty members, representing three academic divisions, encouraged us to “think more boldly about how our faith equips us to bring imaginative solutions to contemporary and future ills.” You can read several excerpts of that conversation here.



On the night before they landed in Plymouth, the Pilgrims waited out a storm on Clark’s Island, guiding their shallop to a "place of sandy ground" between the "many rocks." I’ve never been out to the island, but you can survey its grassy dunes through the coin-operated telescopes near Plymouth Rock. To be honest, it's hard to imagine the settlers pulling their boat alongside a boulder during their famous landfall the next morning. None of the Pilgrims left any written record about the scrap of igneous rock that was, like the voyagers themselves, an immigrant. For geologists, the fabled steppingstone at Plymouth is a "glacial erratic," part of the rubble transported from the Canadian highlands by ice floes some 25,000 years ago. [continue reading...]