Westmont Magazine New Institute to Explore Christianity and Culture
Trustee Patty Martin and her husband, Eff, have made a significant pledge to Westmont to establish the Martin Family Institute for Christianity and Culture and the Dallas Willard Center for Spiritual Formation. President Gayle D. Beebe announced the gift at the college’s board of trustee meeting Oct. 25, 2010.
“The purpose of the Willard Center is preparing a new generation of Christian leaders to articulate the philosophical, theological and biblical rationale for developing an interactive relationship with Christ,” Martin says.
“We’re thrilled with this gift and expect the new institute and center to make a significant impact on our students and help Westmont become a leader in the discipline of spiritual formation,” says President Beebe. “Our Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts has focused new attention on the value of a liberal arts education, and we expect the Martin Family Institute and the Willard Center to also draw leading scholars nationwide to its conferences and conversations.”
The couple will fund the institute and center over a three-year period, and a search for a qualified director to oversee the center begins soon. Dallas Willard, the noted author and professor at USC for whom the center is named, will lead a discussion by the presidents of Westmont, Azusa Pacific, Pepperdine and Gordon College in January 2011 to promote coordination of spiritual formation programs. The Willard Center will launch a visiting fellow program in spring 2012 and begin planning a conference to be held in 2013. Other activities will include offering retreats and providing training in spiritual mentoring.
Martin joined the Westmont Board of Trustees in 2005. She and her husband learned about the college through the students and alumni they met at their church. “Westmont graduates impress me and my husband with their vibrant faith and Christ-like character,” Martin says. She became acquainted with former presidents David Winter and Stan Gaede and met President Beebe through the Renovare organization.
A certified spiritual director who teaches classes in spiritual formation at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, Martin earned a bachelor’s degree at San Jose State University and master’s degrees in education and counseling psychology at Notre Dame de Namur University. She and her husband, Eff, have been married for 35 years and have three grown children. Eff is a retired investment banker.