Student Life Newsletter

November 2015

As we settle into the fullness of the fall semester, our students keep busy with many things. They navigate spiritual growth, coursework, relationships, health, finances, identity development and much more. Many of us pray regularly for our students as they face challenges in their lives, enjoy their college years, and receive support from friends, professors and staff.

Thank you for your partnership in doing the work of student development as you interact with students. This issue of the Student Life Newsletter provides a primer on a key developmental theory that could assist you in engaging with students. You will also read a sampling of the many Student Life programs and initiatives designed to encourage students to grow. You can always contact us if you have concerns about a student or questions about anything happening in student life.

Student Development Theory Moment: Chickering Vectors

When I first started working in the field of student development in 1987, I didn’t realize that a body of knowledge from the fields of psychology, sociology and cognitive science underlies our work. Theories in human development (including moral, racial, ethnic and sexual development), spiritual formation and human transitions all inform the work of student life professionals. To help others in our Westmont community build a general awareness of student developmental work, the Student Life Newsletter will periodically feature a key theory or theorist. We begin with Arthur Chickering and his early and defining work on vectors along which college students navigate their time in college. The linked PDF is a primer on Chickering’s work, which has served as a foundational theory for decades that many other researchers and theorists have built upon. Enjoy reading this brief summary. If you have questions, feel free to ask one of us in Student Life.


  • First-Year Retreat
    A total of 116 first-year students, 11 professors and staff members, and 24 upper-class student leaders gathered at Forest Home Ojai for the First-Year Retreat to explore spiritual formation while at Westmont. Kelly Soifer, an adjunct religious studies instructor, spoke about freedom in Christ. Students expressed gratitude for ample free time, fun recreational options and supportive yet challenging messages. Many first-year students took the opportunity to pray or meet with a professor, staff member or upper-class student on Saturday at the retreat.

  • Intercultural Programs (ICP) Connect: Fall Retreat
    ICP hosted Connect, the second annual Fall Retreat at the Circle V Ranch in Santa Barbara on September 25-27. The retreat focused on connecting students with the ICP office earlier in the school year and with professors, staff and students invested in actively supporting multicultural development at Westmont. About 40 students and 12 professors and staff (primarily professors and staff of color) attended the retreat. This year the event expanded to two nights and included Sunday morning worship with Pastor Corey from Hawaii.

  • Beating the heat
    The semester chapel program started with its usual energy even through the extreme heat wave. On Friday, September 11, the students were surprised with an early dismissal from chapel, and the Campus Pastor’s Office, Student Life and the President’s Office treated them to a popsicle.

  • Provost Mark Sargent handing out popsicles after chapel

  • Capax Dei
    This semester, Capax Dei features 19 small groups involving about 145 students. In many of these Bible study and prayer groups, a leader and a co-leader share the pastoral and logistical load. They include 13 faculty and staff leaders and 11 non-faculty and non-staff leaders.

  • Counseling Center
    Dr. Eric Nelson, the center’s first full-time director, recently spoke to professors and offered to become a resource for supporting students. The counseling staff has reached out to the athletics department to assess needs and develop prevention programming. In the first eleven weeks of the semester, the counseling center operated close to capacity and developed a waiting list for therapy. The staff is now planning how to effectively and efficiently manage the growing mental health needs of college students. Two possible additions: group therapy in spring 2016 and a postdoctoral fellowship in future academic years.

  • Health Center
    After conducting a survey earlier in the year, the Health Center decided to expand its hours of operation to better accommodate students. By staggering employee hours for the front office and the healthcare providers, the center accomplished this goal without increasing costs. Dr. Hernandez continues to grow in his role as an eating disorder specialist at Westmont and in the Santa Barbara community. He spoke recently at the UCSB Health Center and at a forum for mental health care workers in Camarillo. We’re excited that he continues to provide healthcare for our community while also helping students who struggle with eating disorders.

  • Refreshed Spaces
    The offices for the Horizon, Phoenix and Citadel located in Clark received an aesthetic refresh this summer with a fresh coat of paint and new furniture. The editors and their staff members enjoy and express gratitude for a more pleasing work environment.

  • Career Interns
    Career Development and Calling received a donation to fund two of the four new student career intern positions in the office. The interns received student leader training from Campus Life as well as training by Career Development and Calling. Interns work eight hours per week with an affinity group focusing on and interacting with coaches and captains in the athletics department, first-year students, the Alumni and Parent Relations office, and the Economics and Business Department.

  • Career Development and Calling is offering new internships

  • Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Events
    Student Life has scheduled events to promote our educational focus this year, Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement.

  • The Community Picnic, a perennial favorite, hosted 37 student clubs, 15 student organizations, and 15 off-campus service opportunities set up tables to introduce Westmont students to the myriad of ways to get involved.
  • On Saturday, September 19, 62 students gathered early to participate in United Way’s annual Day of Caring and serve at local schools, churches and non-profit organizations throughout Santa Barbara.
  • City Administrator Paul Casey spoke at a Leadership Lunch on September 22 about his role in leading the Santa Barbara city government and addressing local issues.
  • The new Convergence Club hosted a campus-wide conversation on the Syrian Refugee Crisis on September 28.
  • WCSA provides New York Times newspapers to students on campus free of charge.
  • WCSA hosted events for both the republican and the democratic presidential debates. Students enthusiastically participated.
  • Tom Knecht’s research methods course has joined with Campus Life to develop and implement a student survey on civic engagement.

  • Volunteer Service Hours
    A request from President Beebe galvanized our staff to determine the number of students involved in volunteer service to the community in 2014-2015. With assistance from the Education Department, Career Development and Calling Office (for the Service to Society requirement) and Student Life, we calculated that 40,000+ hours of service by 760 recorded students occurred in 2014-2015. Quite impressive!

  • Fall Breakaway (Urban Initiatives) October 10-12
    During the fall four-day weekend, a team of 17 students and seven core leaders served the homeless in San Francisco for Fall Breakaway. They stayed at the San Francisco Mission Outpost and served at City Team (a food distribution and addiction recovery/ transition housing center), attended Outpost Church, which ministers to many people in the neighborhood who struggle with homelessness, visited a homeless church held at a BART station, visited St. Boniface Catholic Church, where the homeless sleep from 6 a.m.-1 p.m., and ate lunch with the homeless at the Civic Center. Before returning to Santa Barbara, the team engaged in an intense debriefing session at the Westmont in San Francisco house, affording students the opportunity to process their experiences.

  • Juntos
    A weekend version of Potter’s Clay, occurred October 23-25. Students went to Ensenada to serve the community by painting houses, holding a soccer tournament, providing medical outreach, hosting a one-day VBS, and attending a celebratory meal at a church. Approximately 76 students participated.

  • WAC Events
    The Westmont Activities Council (WAC) has moved at full speed ahead during the fall semester.

  • Bingo Night drew record numbers in early September. About 500 students crowded into the gym for a chance to win their share of $1,500 in prizes. To relieve the suspense, the team wisely implemented the occasional dance ball. Westmont students love to dance.
  • October immersed us in the Homecoming Golf Cart Parade, Midnight Madness, and planning for the 55th annual Spring Sing on March 12, 2016.
  • Click here for a full line up of WAC happenings.

Upcoming Events

  • Pickle Tree Lighting December 2
    Students, staff, professors and alumni and their families are welcome to the annual Pickle Tree Lighting on December 2 beginning at 5 p.m. The tree lighting ushers in the Christmas festivities and features the Pickle Tree Lecture from faculty members Ed and Felicia Song, Christmas carols and a mystery tree lighter. All attending enjoy cookies and hot apple cider.