Westmont Magazine The Community of Westmont People
by David K. Winter
As I reflect on the achievements we celebrated in 1995 and the issues we face in the future, I think about the prospective students who visit our campus each year. How do they best get a sense of who we are? By looking at our catalog or reviewing our budget? By touring our grounds and walking through our buildings? By reading publications like this annual report?
All these indicators provide helpful information. But, of course, far more important are the people—students and faculty—who live, work, and study on campus. Research shows that the friendships and personal relationships of college students represent the single most powerful influence on the development of their character. Thus the success of our mission depends on the quality of the people we attract and retain.
I am sure that the missions of some colleges or universities do not depend as heavily on the character of their faculty and staff. But for us it is crucial. Because we seek to encourage a deep and personal Christian commitment along with intellectual growth, we must have faculty and staff who model a serious pilgrimage of faith in Christ. They must be able and willing to share themselves and that faith with our students.
Thankfully, God has chosen to bless Westmont with people like these who shape the life and vitality of our community. Our distinctive mission requires healthy and committed Christians as faculty members who are also active scholars in their fields and exceptionally skilled at teaching undergraduates. We enroll bright and inquisitive students who want to make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ. And our rigorous and challenging program, in and out of the classroom, brings these professors and students together.
I’m excited about the faculty and staff who have joined the college in recent months. We have been able to attract individuals with exceptional depth and maturity in their personal Christian faith as well significant achievements in their professional lives. They have come here to live out their Christian calling and develop further the vision of Mrs. Ruth Kerr and the other founders. We consider them some of the finest people in Christian higher education and believe they indicate very clearly our direction for the future.
I can’t recount God’s blessings to us without offering another word of thanks for the homes being built for faculty. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this project. The beautiful, affordable houses within walking distance of campus certainly increase our ability to attract the finest Christian faculty members.
I wish you could visit chapel on a Monday morning where over 1,000 bright and attractive students listen with great respect and attention to Bart Tarman, our chaplain. He challenges them to the highest possible standards of obedience to Jesus Christ, and I believe he has had an extraordinary influence on the college. But he would be the first to agree that a chaplain can’t make a college Christian. That happens through the strong Christian perspective offered in each of our academic courses. And it results from personal relationships with faculty members, resident directors, secretaries, physical plant staff, and those in the administration, as they have daily opportunities to share themselves with students.
Our community is ever expanding. While hundreds of students graduate each year, they remain important and loyal members of the community as they pray for us, support us financially, and assist us in areas such as admissions, internships, and career planning. We are very grateful for the active involvement of many alumni—and of our growing number of friends. I trust your continuing relationship with Westmont will bless you as much as it has blessed us. You are an important part of our community. It’s people like you who are the essence, the heart, of the college.