During a September walk along a riverside, the poet Theodore Roethke observed the “irregular stones” and “iridescent sandgrains” beneath the current. “My mind moves in more than one place,” he writes. “In a country half-land, half-water.”

Our minds are often in more than one place during the first days of September, as the projects of summer are engulfed by the rush of the new semester. We will salute some of the scholarly work done during the summer in the annual Celebration of Summer Research on Thursday, September 11, in Winter Hall from 3:30-5:00. Steve Contakes, Michael Everest, Frank Percival and their students will join Patti Hunter on a panel at 4:15 discussing their investigations and results. I'd also encourage you to take some time to survey the fruits of summer in a long list of your colleagues' scholarly and professional endeavors in the sidebar column.

During Orientation we welcomed one of the largest new classes in Westmont history (over 430). In their “First Lecture," Tom Knecht encouraged the new students to clarify and cling to their core convictions—the solid ground of their beliefs and values—but to let some partisan and provincial assumptions move to the periphery when the currents of new ideas come flowing in their collegiate studies. We do have a rich stream of speakers and forums this fall, and I am grateful for Aaron Sizer's efforts in the Gaede Institute to coordinate and promote several of them. This report accents a few of those events and opportunities that will occur in just the next thirty days. I hope they bring some moments of iridescence.

Mark Sargent


Angela D'Amour


The schedule this fall includes the piloting of several "First-Year Seminars." Each one-credit, seven-week seminar will focus on a unique set of readings, though there are shared goals and aspirations among the sections. The seminars are designed to introduce students to the core values of a Westmont education, to help students gain confidence in their own inquiries, to hone writing skills, and to provide opportunities to explore ideas within a small community of learners—a great way to get to know a professor and their peers during the early weeks at Westmont. The teachers and topics include: Ed Song on “The Good Life,” Holly Beers on “Faith and Work,” Beverly Chen on “Happiness,” Angela D’Amour (photo) on “Leadership,” and Mark Sargent on “Global Perspectives.”

Lauren Kelly Sarah Stanley


Over the summer we welcomed two new members to the staff of the library. Lauren Kelley (left) joins the team as the new outreach and instruction librarian, and will be in charge of displays and events for the library. She will work at the Research Help Desk and serve as a liaison to the Education, Political Science and Psychology Departments. After completing her master's degree in library and information science from San Jose State, Lauren has most recently worked as a reference librarian at her alma mater, CSU Channel Islands. Last November she participated in the National Novel Writing Month and completed a novel about cats in thirty days. Sarah Stanley is now the web services and instruction librarian. A graduate of Pepperdine, Regent, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she has worked previously at the Wade Center at Wheaton College, the Urbana Theological Union, and World Hope International. Sarah enjoys making ceramic mugs and, by her own account, can talk about the"joys of a well-formed handle for longer than anyone expects or desires.”

Jonathan Leech


Jonathan Leech, who has taught mathematics at Westmont since 1985, has chosen to retire from the full-time faculty in May. Over the course of the last three decades he has taught well over two hundred different sections of courses—geometry, linear algebra, calculus, and statistics, among others—and hundreds of students, not only at Westmont but also overseas. One of those students—Patti Hunter, the current department chair—recalls how he often came alongside them during long study sessions. "When I was a student in his Number Theory course," she observes, "Jonathan used to meet my friends and me at Carrow's downtown, and eat nachos with us while we worked on our problem sets." His colleague Russ Howell notes that Jonathan "has a quirky sense of humor and students love imitating his amusing sayings."

As a scholar, Jonathan has written some of the most essential articles on skew lattices, an algebraic structure. Nearly every single paper published in the field of skew lattices (and there are hundreds of them) cites one or more articles by Jonathan. His 1989 article "Skew lattices in rings," published in [continue reading]



A quick glance at some opportunities in the next thirty days or so:

World Christianity Lecture: The president of Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary, Azar Ajaj, explores how Christians should react to the unrest in the Middle East when he speaks on “Beauty for Ashes: The Mission of the Church in Israel/Palestine,” at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 9, in Hieronymus Lounge. The lecture is sponsored by the Robin Elizabeth Pascal World Christianity Series Endowment.

Erasmus Lecture: This year's Erasmus lecturer is Mark Noll (photo), the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. One of the most accomplished evangelical scholars in our time, Dr. Noll will speak on "The Challenges for Christian Learning: Looking Back, Looking Ahead" at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 24, in Hieronymous Lounge. Tal Howard, director of the Center for Faith and Inquiry at Gordon College, will be the respondent.

GPS Workshop: This fall Cynthia Toms and the Global Education Office are sponsoring "Global Perspectives in the Syllabus," a series of conversations among colleagues interested in integrating a wider array of global viewpoints and readings in their courses. There are stipends for participation. For more information, contact the Global Education Office.

cBooks: Once again we will have some faculty/staff reading groups focusing on the scholarship of colleagues. Each session provides a good meal and a chance to discuss a couple articles. This year we are featuring articles by Grey Brothers, Caryn Reeder, Steve Contakes and Wayne Iba. To sign up or get more information, contact Patti Hunter.

Brown Bag Conversations on Theological Topics: As an outgrowth of our appraisal of CUPA (Christian Understanding, Affections and Practices), Tatiana Nazarenko and the RS Department have organized a series of conversations about the Scriptures. Tremper Longman leads the first one (September 9, Alumni Gallery, 12:00) on "The Importance of the Old Testament for the People of God, or Creation, Sex and Violence in the Old Testament."



A rich line-up of Faculty Forum speakers begins on Thursday, September 11, with Michael Truong, the executive director of the Office of Innovative Teaching and Technology at Azusa Pacific. Formerly an administrator at the Center for Research on Teaching Excellence at UC Merced, Michael is currently the regional director of an association of educational technology specialists in higher education. He has written on blended courses, new media, and learning communities. Michael earned his Ph.D. in ethnic studies at UC San Diego, and has published on the Cambodian American experience. We asked Michael if he would give us a panorama of what he considers the most intriguing and successful uses of technology in learning—and to warn us about what doesn’t work. At the Forum we will issue an invitation for faculty to join a small reading group to explore innovations in the field and to consider possible experiments during the spring semester.

Bob Gundry


On Monday evening, October 6, Bob Gundry will be the speaker at a special Provost’s Lecture. The occasion allows us an opportunity to hear from our distinguished scholar-in-residence, and it will also enable us to commemorate a new festschrift published in Bob’s honor. The festschrift is entitled Reconsidering the Relationship between Biblical and Systematic Theology in the New Testament, edited by B. E. Reynolds, B. Lugioyo, and K. J. Vanhoozer (Mohr Siebeck, 2014). But if you worry that this will be a dull evening of predictable platitudes, be assured that Bob will stir things up with an address arguing that Matthew’s Gospel depicts Peter as a “false disciple” and an “apostate.” In what will definitely not be a home game for me, I have agreed to be the respondent.

Molly Riley


During this academic year the college is undertaking a pilot project with LiveText, an assessment management system. Tatiana Nazarenko is giving general oversight to the LiveText pilot, with Doug Conrad providing assistance with the implementation. LiveText should help faculty collect and store the results of program reviews in an electronic archive; it should also allow us to embed certain assessments within courses, and then to gather the results so that we can see aggregate scores. This fall, Molly Riley (photo) and her assessment team will use LiveText for the institutional appraisal of “Information Literacy” by focusing on assignments in various English composition courses and senior seminars. Three departments—Education, Modern Languages and Theatre Arts—will use LiveText as part of their program reviews. During the fall term, the General Education Committee will be getting ready to implement LiveText during the evaluation of two GE requirements (Understanding Society and Performing and Interpreting the Arts) in the spring.

Nathan Huff


When I was a very young kid, I had some sleepless nights staring at the spectres that emerged from the paisley shapes of my grandfather’s wallpaper, so I enjoyed learning how Nathan Huff has built a splendid new work based on the owls that he saw as apparitions trapped in the designs of his family’s furniture. “Fortunate Find," a monumental display of seven scrolls, reveals owls with spread wings emerging out of damask wallpaper patterns (click here for image). Until November, the work is part of a display on Domesticating Disturbances at the Culver Center of the Arts and Sweeney Art Gallery on the campus of the University of California at Riverside. Other selections in Nathan’s show take familiar images—boats, chairs, and animals—and reveal how they are at once atypical and archetypal within our intimate domestic world. Nathan has held two other recent shows: Teachers Break to Create at Casa Magazine Gallery in Santa Barbara and MAS Attack 6 at the Torrance Art Museum.

Russell Smelley


Russell Smelley (photo) has been elected to serve as the chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee for the coming year. Jim Taylor has been chosen as the vice chair of the Academic Senate; Michelle Hardley, as Registrar, will serve as secretary of the Senate. Both Jim and Michelle will play principal roles in setting the agenda of the Senate, so anyone with proposals for the Senate to consider can feel free to contact either of them. Deborah Dunn will head up the Academic Resources Committee. Alister Chapman was elected last spring to serve as the vice chair of the faculty and the leader of the Faculty Council. Helen Rhee and Marianne Robins will guide the Gender Studies minor while Cheri Larson Hoeckley is overseas this fall. Faculty stepping into department chair roles this fall are Dinora Cardoso (Modern Languages), Michael Everest (Chemistry), Michelle Hughes (Education), Christine Milner (Kinesiology), Steve Rogers (Psychology), Mitchell Thomas (Theatre Arts), Randy VanderMey (English), and Telford Work (Religious Studies).