Westmont Magazine One of Our Best Years
In this annual report issue, you have an opportunity to see some of the reasons why I believe this last year was one of Westmont’s best!
Accomplishments by faculty and students were extraordinary, donors contributed more to the College than ever before ($5.3 million), the endowment grew by more than 21 percent, total net assets increased by $12.2 million, and the institution’s visibility increased significantly.
The events of this past year remind me of God’s goodness to Westmont. They fill me with gratitude for the many ways in which God has blessed the College. And they also encourage me that He is at work to do even greater things in and through our community.
I believe that God’s goodness to us in recent months gives us a momentum for moving ahead with several College priorities. Westmont still needs three or four major buildings to adequately perform our mission for our 1200 students, and a larger endowment that will provide more annual income for our operations. But it is difficult to build the endowment until some of our pressing campus needs are met.
It is fascinating to study the different approaches to higher education in societies around the world. I believe the genius of our American system is the diversity of colleges and universities, which results in part from the combination of independent as well as government-sponsored institutions. The competition between independent colleges and state institutions is healthy for both sectors. I worry about the future of our American society and heritage if virtually all higher education is provided by the state.
Particularly in the western states, most students attend community colleges and state universities that are funded by tax money. On one hand, it seems this is an unfair burden for those families or individuals who want something that is different from the education provided in state schools; in fact, I believe we need something like the GI Bill, which gave maximum choice to the veterans, and included all of higher education in the choice. But on the other hand, the lack of state control gives us a marvelous opportunity for education that is distinctive or related to a particular faith or tradition.
If these institutions (including Christian colleges) are no longer important to our society, then the economic and competitive pressures will eliminate them. But if enough people believe there needs to be faith-related alternatives to the public system, then they will prosper.
It is up to these independent colleges to develop and communicate their strong and distinctive contributions. It is also essential that people realize the dependence of these institutions on private gifts.
To provide all that college and university students expect from their institutions today is terribly expensive. And to provide a comprehensive program that enables our students to move into leadership roles within a world of such conflict and complexity is expensive as well. It requires that students gain not only knowledge, but practical competence, integrity and personal character, and, we believe, a strong and personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
It appears that these qualities are indeed important to our Westmont constituency, for in the last several years the percentage and amount of gifts received have risen dramatically.
We see on the horizon an endowment adequate to reduce our dependence on student tuition revenue; an academic program with an even greater national reputation; and a completed campus, one of the most beautiful in the country.
We have a big job to do. The mission of Westmont requires a deep understanding of God’s purpose for us in the world, dedication by all of us on campus to that purpose, and the strong support of Westmont friends to enable our students to gain that spiritual and intellectual experience. Thank you for joining with us in that task.
God has richly blessed us as we have sought to honor Him. May we each recognize God’s merciful goodness to us personally and respond to Him with a life characterized by faithful and generous stewardship of the time, talent, and treasure he has entrusted to us.