September's report slips in just before the end of the month—closer to Columbus Day than to the opening day of the semester. Four weeks into his voyage Columbus had already faced a mutiny and was keeping two logs, largely to deceive the crew about the length of the journey. I hope your first four weeks have been smoother sailing.

In so many ways, the year is off to a good start. As of this moment, our soccer and volleyball teams collectively are 22-2-1, and many cross country runners have exceeded expectations at invitationals. The faculty's opening chamber concert received a laudatory review from the journal CASA, with special notice for new colleague Han Soo Kim's "maturity of interpretation" and "irresistably dynamic and colorful" work on violin. Similarly, the Santa Barbara Independent praised the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art's current show, including the "intriguing gauntlet" in the entryway that juxtaposes the "rugged" Stations of the Cross with the "deeply poetic" and "radiant still life paintings" of Sue Savage.

Mindful of good starts, I have summarized below some of the work done by our colleagues to insure that our new students and colleagues embark well. And, if the interval between the Dodgers' leap into the Diamondbacks' pool and their Series showdown with the Red Sox has gotten dull, you can enjoy some baseball at the first "Reel Talk" event of the semester—a showing and discussion of the Jackie Robinson biopic "42" at 7:30 on Thursday, September 26, in Page.

Mark Sargent




Jesse and Holly Covington have now arrived in Rome, after opening the Europe Semester in Athens. They offer some early glimpses into their journey: "Europe Semester 2013 started out with several weeks in Greece, followed by four days of independent student travel in Budapest, Berlin, Barcelona and Stockholm. Our stay in Athens was packed full of good things. Students called attention to several themes:

'Our time in Athens was characterized by connecting the past with the present . . .' (Ashley Ward). While a sense of historical depth pervaded many of the site visits and classroom discussions, the links between the past and present of Greece were perhaps most poignant during a symposium that we attended with faculty and students from the University of Athens. Here Aristotle's political writings served as a touchstone for discussions of democracy and inclusion in the contemporary world. The concerns about democratic control were quite personal for our hosts. . . ." [continue reading]

Jason ChaOmedi


The Provost's Office is endorsing an initiative entitled the Faculty-Staff Diversity Network. The FSDN exists for faculty and staff of color to gather formally for dialogue about issues of diversity in higher education and to help one another thrive at Westmont. The new group will have a staff member and a faculty member serve as co-chairs, and Jason Cha and Omedi Ochieng have agreed to fill those roles in the coming year. The FSDN is focused on providing a support network for faculty and staff of color, and it will also seek to offer support to students of color at Westmont. A fall meeting is planned. Feel free to contact either Omedi or Jason if you have questions.

Stu Cleek Lyndsay Grimm


On September 17, Stu Cleek and Lyndsay Grimm from our Student Life Office delivered the first-ever national webinar for the Association for Christians in Student Development (ACSD). The topic of the webinar was "The E.P.I.C. Journey," which is Westmont's new and innovative approach to addressing student conduct issues. This approach uses the student conduct meeting to identify areas for potential growth. The result is that students are given individualized and sequenced sanctions that are designed to expose them to experiences that will enhance their educational success. Stu and Lyndsay were asked to create the ACSD webinar as a result of the high popularity of a similar program they presented at the ACSD annual conference held in Boise, Idaho, this past summer. Stu and Lyndsay will be discussing the E.P.I.C. approach in an upcoming Faculty Forum.

Angela D'Amour Deborah Dunn


Westmont has long sought to be hospitable to new members of the community, and this summer we gave some further thought to how we might help our first-year students and new faculty flourish, even in the midst of all of their challenges of relocation and adjustment to a new community. Angela D'Amour (photo) has been identifying and synthesizing our programs and services for first-year students. As part of that work, she has developed a website that describes for students and parents the various activities and programs designed for the first-year experience. Among the new options for students, there is a "clustered course" offered by Chris Hoeckley and Chandra Mallampalli—a pairing of "Philosophical Perspectives on Truth and Value" and "Perspectives on World History." Students are enrolled in both classes, which have overlapping themes, and the professors occasionally join the students between class sessions for lunch. For new faculty, Deborah Dunn (photo) has overseen the assignment of mentors and has assisted with the development a seminar entitled "Wayfinding at Westmont" . . .[continue reading]

Russ Howell


The installation of Russell Howell in the Kathleen Smith Chair of Natural and Behavioral Sciences will take place on October 18. In addition to the full-regalia installation ceremony during the Chapel hour, there will be a lecture and a faculty panel in the afternoon from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Russ's address will probe the questions "Does Mathematics Require Faith? Does Faith Require Mathematics?" The panel will explore "The Role of Christians in the Academy: Secular and Faith-Based Institutions." Panelists include Francis Su (Harvey Mudd College) and Robert Brabenec (Wheaton), along with two Westmont colleagues. A member of the Westmont faculty since 1978, Russ is the co-author of a popular textbook, entitled Complex Analysis for Mathematics and Engineering, as well as the co-editor of Mathematics Through the Eyes of Faith and Mathematics in a Postmodern Age: A Christian Perspective.

Bill Wright


A new season in institutional research (IR) begins at Westmont as Bill Wright has more time to focus on collecting and interpreting data. Of course, there will be continuity with the past. As usual, Bill will be gathering information about enrollment, credit-hour ratios, and trends in majors and minors, etc. The National Survey of Student Engagement will be administered again this year, and we anticipate participating even more fully in the surveys and programs sponsored by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. But we also expect to broaden IR endeavors. For instance, we hope to identify greater means by which IR can support academic departments in their program review efforts, and we look forward to collaborating on alumni surveys. This year, the College is joining a national survey of "First Destinations," a study of where graduates go immediately after college. Before we venture off into too many new projects, one of our primary objectives will be to identify the data currently gathered by our offices, to synthesize it, and to insure that it is coherent and accessible. In recent weeks, Bill has been researching information to nourish the conversation about affordability and sustainability. He will also help us determine how IR can contribute more fully to the planning and decision-making processes of the college. Suggestions are welcome for how IR can support and complement your work.