The fall semester is off and running . . . though we will hang on to a little of summer by celebrating students’ summer research on Thursday (Winter Hall, 4-6 p.m.). Biology prof Amanda Sparkman will offer the keynote and we will see an array of student projects, ranging from a study of the influence of marriage on memory to an experiment on resonance energy transfer. Since we are celebrating undergraduate research, I decided to open this report with a brief story about Allan Nishimura, who has such a strong legacy of scholarship with our students. I’ve also checked-in with our new Registrar, Michelle Hardley, provided a few updates, and included an abridged text of my comments at the Faculty Retreat.

Last Friday the men’s and women’s soccer teams won their home openers, and the volleyball team has raced to an 8-1 start, their best in years. Hope your semester also has a few victories already.

Mark Sargent


Allan Nishimura

Allan Nishimura's Work with Students

I've seen plenty of New England winters in recent years, so it was not hard to track with Allan Nishimura’s image of snowflakes falling on the hard ground. That’s how he began to explain to me his work examining naphthalene molecules on the surface of sapphire. Anyone who has walked across an icy driveway in February knows what it is like when snowflakes melt in the sun and then congeal during the cold night. The irony is that I needed the imagery of winter to understand research relevant for solar power.

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Michelle Hardley

Keeping Pace with Michelle Hardley

It’s been just over one month since we welcomed Michelle Hardley as the Registrar, so I decided to catch up on her first 30 days . . . or, as she reports, her first 1,129 emails, 57 notes of congratulations, 48 cups of tea, 11 requests for room changes, 9 committees, and two calls from angry parents. There’s also one country music recording—apparently a gift that has been wryly passed from one Westmont Registrar to another.

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Fall Enrollment Exceeds Expectations

Another successful year of new-student recruitment coupled with record-breaking retention has translated into full enrollment. Working with a goal of 1214 students on campus, we spent much of the summer wondering why we would likely land on the high side of the target. One reason: an exceptionally high retention rate of 96%. Classes began with a campus enrollment of 1235. And let’s not forget there are an additional 117 Westmont students studying around the world this fall. We have much to be thankful for as the year begins, with full enrollment being near the top of the list. Thanks to Silvio Vazquez and his team for their recruitment work, and Bill Wright, as usual, who helped us arrive under the enrollment "cap." The upcoming challenge will be to manage the spring enrollment so that the 5-year average does not exceed 1200.

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Remarks at Faculty Retreat


A slightly revised version of my comments at the Faculty Retreat on August 21:

I’ve nearly unpacked all of my books now and made a home in my Kerrwood office. It’s a wonderful place, with views over the dark oaks in the formal gardens and Santa Cruz Island in the distance. And it’s “our office.” Committees and groups frequently use this space for meetings—about as often, actually, as students hit the window with errant Frisbees. I’ve put up some personal things on the shelves and cabinets, including a few gifts from my final days back east. Since you may be staring at some of these items during our shared meetings, let me tell you the story of two of them.

One gift is an abstract painting by my friend Bruce Herman, an artist known to the Westmont community because of the recent exhibit here of his Mary murals. The painting is entitled “Canyon" (see detail in photo) from the “Great Ledge Series,” an aesthetic response to the landscape of Cape Ann in northeastern Massachusetts, where Bruce and I met often over breakfast to reflect on our families, our institution, and our sense of calling. Like most all of Bruce’s work, the painting consists of layers; the surface has been scraped and sanded, washed with acids, and covered many times with new brush strokes. When I look at his works, even the figurative studies, my eye is almost always drawn to its textures.

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