Westmont Magazine Our Challenge at Westmont
I like to ponder the fact that Westmont is an explicit and effective Christian ministry to college students. But we are also a relatively large business in a very competitive and challenging market. We must never forget these two essential characteristics.
These four years are crucial in the spiritual formation of men and women, and this is a central part of our mission. We make sure that every professor is also a role model, a deeply committed Christian who loves to share his or her faith and perspective on the relationship between our evangelical heritage and the subject matter being studied. Our campus pastor and our fine residence hall directors are equally significant in the spiritual growth and development of our students and thus are very carefully selected.
Fellow students are among the most powerful influence on college students. Thus we must recruit and select students in part for their potential contribution to a vital, healthy Christian community on campus. Our mission is to produce Christian leaders, so these must be primary factors in the admissions process, not simply their academic achievement or their ability to pay the charges.
In terms of a business model, which is part of our essential nature as well, we provide a very attractive resource or service for about half its total cost. When we include the cost of our campus and facilities, every student receives a discount in addition to the selective financial aid we give to those with superior ability and most serious financial need.
Our total tuition, fees, room and board charge for an academic year is about the same as meals and a room at a Holiday Inn. Yet we also provide a competent and committed faculty member for every 13 students, a fine range of academic majors, a professional residence hall staff and Christian counselors, Internet access for all students, a health center, all sorts of extra-curricular activities, free transportation downtown, a campus pastor and staff, a post office, library, musical equipment and teachers, athletic and fitness facilities, intercollegiate and intramural sports programs, career and life planning counselors, an extraordinarily beautiful campus, and it goes on.
The point is that if we are no longer effective in achieving our strong and distinctive academic and Christian mission there will be no reason for students to choose Westmont. And if we cannot be wise and rigorous stewards of our financial resources so that our costs are as low as they can possibly be, we will not find students who can afford to join us.
We know that people are more important than buildings. Our students and faculty have put up with inadequate classrooms, laboratories, recreational facilities, places to study, a chapel, and sufficient residence halls. Yet our graduates are every bit as competent as those from tax-supported state schools and the best of the high-endowment private schools. And this is true even though we are remarkably under-funded.
However, in spite of an ever increasing number of applications, we can no longer achieve our distinctive mission without at least a larger number of adequate buildings. Tuition pays for part of our operational cost, but it does not pay for any new buildings or the remodeling of current buildings. We rely solely upon outside gifts to cover these expensive costs.
This means that we must have alumni and friends who believe in us, who have concluded that this ministry is surely one of the most effective ones in the world to make a significant, long-term difference for Jesus Christ. We gladly accept this challenge.
The recent gift of $75 million is a dramatic vote of confidence in our future. It does not eliminate our need for financial resources, but it surely enables us to face that need with greater courage and momentum. The response of so many alumni and friends to this leadership gift has already been a great encouragement.
Do we face challenges? Absolutely. But I can’t imagine a more rewarding (non-profit) business than a high quality, Christian liberal arts college like Westmont. I trust you feel the same reward from your support of our ministry. This is our sincere wish and most earnest prayer.