Westmont Magazine Advise and Consult
Some have held top positions with major corporations such as Hewlett-Packard and Hughes Aircraft. Others have founded and led their own companies. All have achieved significant success as senior executives. Together, they offer expertise in a wide range of industries, including aero-space, health care, insurance, communications, government, publishing and education.
The nine members of the Board of Advisors meet twice a year to bring new ideas and fresh viewpoints to campus. Founded in 1997, the volunteer group provides a critical link between education on campus and post-graduate, real-life experiences.
“Through their experience and wisdom, the Board of Advisors are well positioned to help us achieve our goals,” says President Stan Gaede. “The members deeply value Christian liberal arts education and can help our students build a bridge from college to the marketplace. They’ve offered valuable thoughts and ideas, especially on preparing students for life after college. I’m grateful that people who love Westmont come in periodically to take a look at what we are doing and give us the benefit of their wisdom.”
Dick Archer and Pen Tudor, co-founders of the board, say the advisors serve at the pleasure of the president. “We are a consulting arm to Stan Gaede,” says Tudor, who serves as chair of the group.
“The price is right,” Archer notes. “Stan is getting a lot of input without huge consulting fees.”
Advisors help the college in two ways. As a group, they work on projects that will strengthen college programs. They also make contributions as individuals.
For example, the board conducted a comprehensive review of the Career and Life Planning office to help graduates make a smooth transition to the workplace. One challenge is convincing students to use the career services offered. The board made a series of recommendations, such as involving faculty more in career planning.
“Students need to be prepared for the workplace,” Tudor says. The advisors encouraged the career office to set up a database of business people who could assist students exploring career interests. Board members are willing to mentor students themselves.
Advisors also conducted a study, “Bridges to the Marketplace,” to consider ways to expose students to real-world business situations, ethics and challenges.
Recruiting business leaders to speak on campus can help accomplish this goal. Thanks to the advisors, Eff Martin, then managing director of Goldman Sachs, addressed the question, “Is it possible to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and pursue profits in a market economy?” A panel of business people also reviewed the Enron debacle and discussed corporate governance.
Another project is increasing Westmont’s visibility, especially in Santa Barbara. The advisors have worked with Marcia Meier, director of college communications, to develop an effective marketing program.
“The beauty of the mission of Westmont is that the college is not insular,” Tudor says. “The students and faculty get down into the community, and we want to help the college be better known there.”
“Not only does the board of advisors offer a new perspective, but they are willing to promote Westmont in their communities to increase awareness of the college and extend its influence,” says Provost Shirley Mullen. “They can provide connections for students and challenge us in a good way to better prepare students for the workplace.”
Currently, the advisors are focusing on summer programs. They are studying ways the college can use its campus creatively during the summer that will advance its mission.
On an individual level, a number of advisors have served as guest lecturers and chapel speakers on campus.
Archer, Tudor and others have hosted events to introduce business people to Westmont. They invited 35 L.A. executives to the California Club to hear former President David Winter speak and have also opened their homes.
“A meal in a home is a relaxed way for people to become better acquainted with the college,” Archer says.
An expert in the insurance business, Archer helped college officials select a new insurance broker. When Westmont lost a physical plant building to a fire, he also worked with them to manage the $2 million property loss.
In consultation with Ron Cronk, vice president for finance, Archer suggested that the college refinance its long-term debt, which has saved about $280,000 each year.
“The advisors have expertise that complements a very good college staff of generalists,” Archer says.
Advisors also get involved in college initiatives. During the capital campaign, several served on the campaign cabinet and others worked with fund-raisers to identify potential donors. A board member sat on the presidential search committee. Advisors have also assisted in developing and submitting grant proposals. When possible, they attend campus events and represent Westmont in the community.
The advisors are people who value involvement. They provide more than advice; they model volunteerism.,/p>
“Westmont is the Lord’s work, which is the most important thing in my life,” Archer says. “I have learned that my purpose is to help people. Since I have an interest in education and can add something to the college, I feel I should do so. Westmont is a great place, with a value system and beliefs that parallel mine. I’m glad to give something back.”