Want to try your hand at flying a drone? Want to see what a field ultrasound machine can teach us about the sex lives of snakes? Want to hear how the Myaamia Native Americans could eat a poisonous plant and survive? You can do all this and more on Friday, September 30, at the newly re-configured Celebration of Summer Research. Eileen McMahon McQuade has worked to bring some fun and intrigue into this annual event that will take place from 3:30-5:30 pm in the third-floor rotunda of Winter Hall (see more details below). Come enjoy—and see some of the most ambitious research done by our students.

Thinking of flying, you will be hard pressed to find anyone soaring higher right now than our women's volleyball team and women's soccer team. Both are ranked third in the nation. Collectively, the teams of Coach Patti Cook and Coach Chantel Cappuccilli reached last weekend (September 24) with an extraordinary record of 26-0-1. All this comes, in fact, along with some other noteworthy honors and milestones in the department (see below). Under Athletic Director Dave Odell, last spring Westmont won its fourth consecutive All Sports Award for the Golden State Athletic Conference, given to the college with the best overall athletic performance in the league.

Earlier this month the residents of Las Barrancas—past and present—gathered to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the housing community. The two decades have been marked by joy and loss, including the devastation of the 2008 Tea Fire. But the spirit of gratitude for the shared journey comes through in Kate Vander Laan's and Barb Pointer's litany of thanksgiving, written for the occasion. I thought it was an appropriate note upon which to end this report.

Mark Sargent signaure




The last few months have been a great run for Westmont athletics. Kirsten Moore had the exceptional honor of being the only NAIA coach to be selected to serve on the coaching staff for the national under-18 team. With a victory in extra time against Marymount University, Dave Wolf won his 300th soccer match at Westmont. During his career of over two decades as head coach, Dave has won over 65% of his matches. And Ron Smith (photo), who has done so much over the years to celebrate others, was named the recipient of the 2016 Clarence “Ike” Pearson Award, which is given annually to one person in the NAIA for outstanding service as a sports information director. Mark Patton, the lead sports columnist for the Santa Barbara News-Press, writes, “In my 38 years of sports writing, I have never met a more professional, caring, thorough, and responsible person in the communications industry.”


Winter Hall


As always, for those attending the annual Celebration of Summer Research (Friday, September 30, 3:30-5:30 pm in the third-floor rotunda of Winter Hall) the centerpiece will be our summer research students showcasing their work. Students from Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, Kinesiology, and Psychology will all present posters and many will have a table to display equipment, show computer models in action, or display results in a more interactive manner. In addition, faculty members have agreed to host laboratory demonstrations throughout the science buildings. These short presentations will run on the hour and half-hour starting at 4:00 pm. To encourage attendance, we will also have a “Science Bingo” game where students will earn stamps for talking to student researchers, attending the lab demonstrations, or completing science-related challenges (Would YOU lie on a bed of nails?). Students that get “Bingo” will then be entered into a drawing for an iPad Mini. If this all wasn’t enough, there will be a delicious spread of food and beverage—and the chance to fly that drone with Don Patterson!


On the day of our Celebration of Summer Research, we will also welcome approximately 100 prospective students and family members for our first ever STEM-focused Preview Days. One big goal will be to show why a Christian liberal arts college is a great choice for a science degree. The schedule is jam-packed with the very best of Westmont. The Celebration of Summer Research will show the high-caliber inquiry happening throughout the Division of Natural and Behavioral Sciences. A diverse faculty panel will talk about the importance of the general education, the distinctives of our science majors, and other opportunities like service-learning projects and study-abroad programs. A panel of alums will stress how their Westmont education prepared them well for their chosen careers in science, medicine, or public service. Finally, the prospective students will also enjoy a telescope viewing on Friday evening and a “Science Adventure in Santa Barbara” session on Saturday morning. These will include a guided tour of the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum Sea Center with Beth Horvath or going on a geocaching treasure hunt with Dave Hunter.



With Bill Wright's retirement, Chris Call (photo) will serve as our Accreditation Liaison Officer to the WASC Senior Commission of Universities and Colleges. This year Chris is also overseeing many of our institutional research endeavors. This year we have renewed our use of the first-year survey offered by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA (the CIRP survey) and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). That will enable us to compare ourselves against some national and regional benchmarks.

Several committees now have their appointed or selected chair in place. Those leading committees include Dinora Cardoso (Faculty Personnel Committee), Michael Everest (Academic Senate Resource Committee), and Bruce Fisk (General Education Committee).

Stu Cleek and Patti Hunter worked this summer to harmonize the ways of reporting academic dishonesty to the Provost's Office and the Student Life Office. The new process (link here) appears on the Provost's website.

Tori OBrienTatianaTori O'Brien has been hired to assist Tatiana Nazarenko with the coordination of our use of Live Text as an assessment tool. Previously employed at Duke, Tori earned a bachelor's degree from Boston University and a master's degree from Ohio University. Last July Tatiana conducted a workshop entitled "Assessing Student Learning in General Education Using Signature Assignments" at the 2016 LiveText Assessment Conference in Chicago. She is currently serving as assistant chair of the WSCUC accreditation team for Weimar Institute in California.


Westmont's new program in global health—a collaboration with the Uganda Studies Program of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities—began this fall. Ray Rosentrater joined with our seven students in August to teach a course in global health and statistics, and the students are now taking courses at Uganda Christian University in Mukano, about an hour east of the capital of Kampala. Ray observes: "It was a privilege to have the opportunity to teach the inaugural course in the new global health emphasis program. At the end of my course, the students presented their work to guests from the Uganda Studies Program, the School of Nursing, and the School of Social Work. I was pleased to see the way that our students rose to the occasion. I joined the students on the site visits to many of the places where their public health internships will take place and look forward to hearing what they have learned from working in these rich and varied contexts." Recently, the students have travelled to Rwanda together. Upon the day of his departure from Uganda, Ray and his wife Brenda were treated to a special pancake (see photo) in an expression of good will for the voyage home.


One of our tasks this year will be to refine our “learning outcomes” for the global dimension of our mission. This task brings together several streams. First, the WASC Commission has asked that we develop a clearer articulation of the global learning outcomes we wish to pursue for all students, whether they attend an off-campus study program or not. Second, we currently are in the process of assessing our Thinking Globally requirement in the General Education Committee (part of our effort to assess “global engagement” as one of our seven ILOs). Third, the Off-Campus Programs Committee has been working for several months to define the outcomes and learning goals for an off-campus semester, as well as the orientation and re-entry seminars that bookend it. Fourth, we will be developing programs for the new Global Leadership Center. Based on input from all of these endeavors, the Academic Senate will take up the task of synthesizing these outcomes and developing a description of what we expect all students to learn and what skills we expect them all to acquire, regardless of the program they attend—or even if they don’t attend an overseas program. Most likely, the Senate will undertake this work in mid-spring. The work of the Senate will be shared and discussed with the faculty.


Over the summer, Donald Patterson completed the final course in a six-course sequence on iOS programming through the Massive Open Online Courseware (MOOC) platform Coursera. The final course was to design a game like Pokémon GO! that leverages the physicality of the smartphone with game play. This was a capstone course in that it allowed students to use skills from several different prior assignments in a creative, summative way. The course was run simultaneously with a Westmont Mayterm course on iOS programming drawn from the same material, but taught in person. To date, 71,036 students have enrolled in the online version. (More details available here.) Don is currently exploring the development of a minor in Computer Science which can be earned during Mayterms.


Sameer Yadav has just received a grant from Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of Theology and the John Templeton Foundation for the development and implementation of a new course in analytic theology. Analytic theology, which is devoted to the rigorous analysis of metaphysical concepts, follows in the tradition of Anselm's "faith seeking understanding." Sameer was one of only five recipients of the award. His new course will be entitled "Divine Hiddenness."

Gary moonThe Martin Institute/Dallas Willard Center has been granted a $50,000 grant from the Duke Endowment for a project on "Christian Spiritual Formation: An Overlooked Approach to Pastoral Burnout Prevention and Congregational Engagement." Gary Moon, director of the MIDWC, spoke recently at a Duke Divinity School conference on "Flourishing: A New Vision for Spiritual Formation" and "Flourishing: Dusting Off Some Ancient Practices." Gary gave a similar talk at a spiritual formation conference in Atlanta, focusing on "Who Pastors the Pastor?"


Late summer and early fall were busy times for Westmont in the arts. The Lit Moon Company—the theatre troupe co-founded by John Blondell—celebrated its 25th anniversary with a performance of Tennessee Williams' "Glass Menagerie," featuring Victoria Finlayson, John's wife, in the lead role as Amanda. Vicki is also teaching one of our first-year seminars this fall, emphasizing Shakespeare and the art of production. Westmont alums Paige Tautz and Chris Wagstaffe also appeared in "Menagerie." Founded in 1991, Lit Moon is committed to aesthetic experimentation and re-imagining classics, and has performed in ten countries and welcomed artists from seven nations.

In a centenary celebration of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Paul Willis Paul willishas served as a poet-in-residence there for the months of August and September.

Once again, Michael Shasberger conducted the orchestra in concerts at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Garden for the July 4th celebrations, with almost 2,000 people in attendance. He also led the orchestra in the grand finale of Santa Barbara's Old Spanish Days Fiesta in August. The program featured a Spanish-themed repertoire that included Rimsky Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol" and highlights from Bizet's opera "Carmen." Under his direction the West Coast Chamber Orchestra performed a Bach-by-Candlelight concert on Memorial Day that featured four harpsichord concertos. Those soloists included Westmont music faculty keyboard artists Steve Hodson and Thomas Joyce. The orchestra celebrated its 50th annual presentation at the Fiesta celebrations, and also presented a private performance at the Four ShasbergerSeasons Biltmore in July, sharing a full program of orchestral concert adaptations of film scores. Collaborating in these performances were Westmont adjunct music faculty members Joanne Kim (clarinet), Paul Mori and Andy Radford (bassoon), Steve Gross (french horn), Tamsen Beseke (violin), Andrea Di Maggio (flute) and Jonathan Palmquist (percussion). Student interns also participated both in collaborative management activities and in performance capacities, including Daniel Fraats (trombone), Lalia Mangione and Andrea Larez (violin), Marissa Condie and Allysa Beccue (flute), Stephen Ziliotto (trumpet), Jacob Clark (trombone), Tim Beccue and Wynston Hamman (cello).

Inheritance SaarThe Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art featured an exhibit of women artists, including both three-dimensional works and prints by 20th and 21st century women renowned for their sculptures. The exhibit took inspiration from a Los Angeles show devoted to women sculptors since 1947, and it features many works from the museum's collections along with a variety of loans. On entrance to the museum, two of the first selections that you see are the work by Los Angeles artist Alison Saar, who explores many themes of the "African Diaspora." One selection, entitled "Inheritance," includes a ball of cotton strips and fuses African motifs with African-American history. Chris Rupp tells me that the ball was created, in part, by students from the Santa Barbara area.


For twenty years Las Barrancas has been home to many faculty members and their families. Past and present residents gathered in mid-September to celebrate the anniversary. They were joined by families from lower Westmont Road, members of the Friends of Westmont, and two former trustees, David Eldred and Gary Harris, who helped get the city’s approval for the development.

The anniversary was a time for the children of faculty members to share reminiscences. Hanna Willis Cullen, daughter of Paul and Sharon Willis, recalls: “Las Barrancas has been the home I will always call home. It is the place where my deepest and longest lasting friendships were founded and fostered. It is also the place where our family has had the most amazing community to lovingly support us through the Tea Fire—destruction and reconstruction.”

Memories of daily pleasures and enduring friendships emerge in this litany of thanksgiving, prepared for the occasion by Kate Vander Laan and Barb Pointer:

Psalm 136
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
To him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
Who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
Who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
Who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
The sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
The moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to Him who prepared this place for us,
His love endures forever.
A circle of neighbors—colleagues and friends,
His love endures forever.
A place among the owls and bobcats, the hummingbirds and California quail, the fence lizards and gopher snakes, and, yes, even the gophers.
His love endures forever.

We give you praise and thanks for all the blessings of this life. We thank you, Lord . . .

1) For the good world—for things great and small,
For roadrunner nests reverently revealed by landscapers,
for Montecito Peak—glowing pink at sunset;
for the bloom of color in the Jayawardenes’ garden,
for the graceful glide of the red-tailed hawk,
for frog and cricket song in the barranca,
Your love endures forever.

2) For the sights and sounds of morning, noon, and night in the neighborhood;
for skateboarders buzzing by;
for children with honeysuckle blossoms at their lips,
for late-night strolls with a friend and a well-groomed collie;
for trampoline noise and joys,
for drums, and violins and voices carried through the air,
Your love endures forever.

3) For work to do and strength to work,
for Paul with his tools on the trails;
for gardens lovingly hewn from claylike soil,
for the working out of the quieter virtues grading papers on the
for cheerful help from handyman Scott,
for the aroma of home cooked meals at sunset;
for board meetings with short agendas and picnics with no
Your love endures forever.
For the trust and understanding, counsel and comfort of good friends,
for hugs at the end of a hard day,
for Allison “just stopping by,"
for Isaiah and friends building something BIG and FAST
for easy laughter at a mailbox meeting,
for Little Town and Uptown and all of their busy citizens,
Your love endures forever.

4) For families and homes to return to each day,
for Ezra’s exuberant greetings,
for tired parents walking their children back from the park;
for listserv chatter—last-minute requests, free produce, repair
recommendations, and laughs;
for wild winds and the walls that keep them out,
Your love endures forever.

5) For your comfort and provision in times of doubt and sorrow—
for holding us when we have lost loved ones,
for walking us through the flames and dark valleys,
for strengthening us to endure trials,
for buoying us in our sorrow,
Your love endures forever.

6) For faith and confidence and hope in you as our Rock and our Redeemer at all times and in all generations.

Your love endures forever.


Las Barrancas