Westmont Magazine A Legacy of Faithful Lives
by David K. Winter, President
My desk faces the beautiful President’s Patio with the graceful, authentic Italian fountain that dates from the 19th century. From this wonderful vantage place I see so much of the everyday life of the College pass by.
Jose, our gardener for 20 years, lovingly trims the hibiscus and cleans the fountain. How I have grown to love him and his careful work. Students pass by on their way from the post office to the bookstore, faculty hurry in to Kerrwood for a meeting, and visitors stop to admire the fountain and wonder at the beauty of this small college campus. I am a most grateful and privileged observer of all of this for 22 years. What a view!
Who are the people who have given life to this vibrant, significant place? The focus of this issue is on the “builders” of Westmont, those who have gone before and used their gifts to accomplish our distinctive mission.
Recently Professor Emeritus Paul Wilt wrote an article on the life of Alexander Kerr, whose wife, Ruth Kerr, founded Westmont. His life was marked by a desire to serve the Lord with his resources, and he gave much of his considerable wealth away. Certainly this desire was carried out in the life of his widow, who responded to God’s call and founded Westmont.
Their son, Bill Kerr, and his wife, Beverly, trustees of the college for 25 years, have strengthened the precious heritage that Bill’s mother began and have served in a leadership role on our board.
Donald Whittier, whose lead gift enabled us to build the science building, didn’t know any faculty or staff members, but was deeply impressed with the reputation Westmont students have achieved in Santa Barbara.
The Porters, whose gifts enabled the College to build Porter Hall and the Porter Center, became acquainted with Westmont through students who attended the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara.
A Westmont staff member told the Armingtons about the College while singing in the choir together at a church in Carpinteria. Their gifts not only provided financing for the wonderful Armington Hall, but Voskuyl Library as well.
Hugh Murchison heard about Westmont through several Westmont trustees and eventually served on our board for several years before making the gift that allowed Westmont to build our beautiful gymnasium.
Deborah Clark was the maiden name of Mrs. Ernest Gieser, and they were unknown to the College when Mr. Gieser contacted us about a deferred gift.
David and Elizabeth Eldred were sensitive to the need for faculty homes and provided courageous and generous leadership in the development of 41 homes adjacent to campus.
We plan to build an art center and science classroom building in the first phase of our effort to complete the campus by 2010. New names will then appear on campus to remind us of God’s faithful provision.
But the legacy of Westmont has been people as well as buildings. It is embodied in those who have given their lives and careers to this place over the years.
It is our committed board of trustees, the faculty who share their lives and faith as well as their scholarship, the skilled and hard working staff. It is our loyal alumni, whose support is essential to the college and whose influence around the world becomes the basis for the growing reputation of their alma mater.
It is the thousands of enthusiastic parents of current and past students whose recent financial support has been instrumental in a number of significant projects on campus.
It is our physical plant staff who care for this stunning campus with all its nooks and crannies, bridges and paths.
As I watch the quiet drama of the life of our community pass by the President’s Patio, and hear the gentle dripping of the fountain and see the sun cast long shadows on Jose’s well cared for plants, I am reminded of the steady hand of God on Westmont College. My spot is a good one, and oh, what a view.