Westmont Magazine A Las Barrancas Story
Told by Professor Nivaldo J. Tro at the dedication of Las Barrancas
I could take these next few moments to tell you how important this faculty housing project is for Westmont; how beneficial it will be to our students to live close to faculty and learn from them outside of class, taking part in an academic tradition that dates back to the earliest times; how it will aid in the constant need to recruit and retain highly qualified faculty; but I think you’re already convinced of these things, so I won’t.
I have chosen to tell you a personal story about my family. Although my story is unique, I think you’d hear 20 other unique stories from 20 other faculty who have now moved into Las Barrancas. My story sits alongside theirs.
I came to Westmont as a faculty member six years ago with stars in my eyes and my wife at my side. I was grateful for the help Westmont provided in purchasing our first home: an 1100-square-foot palace (and it was a palace to us at the time) 15 miles from campus.
I dove into a job that seemed to fit me like a glove. The work was more gratifying than anything I had experienced, and I loved it. At the same time, my family began to grow. Four years and two children later, our home began to feel smaller. Added to that was the growing complication of my wife’s multiple sclerosis. She lost her driver’s license due to the disease’s effect on her vision, and she was slowly losing her ability to walk. Her gradual surrender to the wheelchair made our living situation even more difficult.
Here I was with a job I loved and a house that was growing more unsuitable by the day. I became discouraged. I watched some of my colleagues leave over housing frustrations, moving to other institutions where their dollar could buy more house closer to their new campus. I considered doing the same.
But there was hope on the horizon: a faculty housing project a stone’s throw from my office. Unfortunately, it was embroiled in a political battle with an uncertain outcome. And here is where you stepped in. As I went to show my support for something that would directly benefit me, you went too.
I attended pre-hearing briefings—events filled with facts and figures—and you were there. I attended planning commission hearings filled with plans, drawings, and environmental impact reports, and you were there. I attended City Council meetings—events filled with hours of testimony—and again you were there. You stated your support for the college and the project in no uncertain terms. I was encouraged.
You persevered, and we won the battle, and today this project is a reality. I cannot begin to tell you how our lives have changed as a result.
Today we live in a brand new home just a five-minute walk from my office. The home was adapted to meet the needs of my wife’s disability. The close proximity to campus allows us to have students over to help with errands and childcare. If there is an emergency, there are concerned neighbors within earshot, and I can be home in an instant.
I’m already beginning to feel the effects of being near my students and my colleagues and interacting with them outside of class—getting to know them as friends and neighbors.
In short, our housing situation has changed from untenable to ideal, and I have you to thank for it. We as a faculty are grateful from the very depths of our being.