Commencement 2018 celebrated a year unlike any other.
The Thomas Fire in December and the Montecito mudslide in January combined to create a record five evacuations and one of the most challenging times in Westmont’s history. Professors and students exhibited great adaptability and resilience in completing both the fall and spring semesters despite the interruptions and devastation to Montecito. I’m especially grateful for the way the community responded individually and corporately to each new challenge. We’ve talked a lot about the importance of gratitude and grit, and this was a year to put our beliefs into action. The courage and kindness our college community displayed helped the wider community bounce back, and I will be forever grateful for the way our Westmont family helped us all recover. Not everything was positive, but the overall response has been incredibly heartwarming as we’ve experienced God’s mercy and grace in new and inspiring ways. You can read more about our experiences and stories of God’s faithfulness in the spring 2018 issue of the Westmont magazine, Stronger Together: Courage and Kindness.
We also said hello to some wonderful new faculty: Rebecca McNamara (English), Maryke van der Walt (mathematics) and Sandra Richter (religious studies). We said goodbye to three all-time favorites: Tremper Longman III (religious studies), Niva Tro (chemistry) and Chris Milner (kinesiology) as well as our long-serving and beloved campus pastor, Ben Patterson.
Graduating a class with grit
At Commencement, education students wore buttons that said, “Survived & thrived amidst fires, mudslides and evacuations.” We celebrated our truly remarkable seniors who endured so much—especially Connor McManigal, who was seriously injured but survived the January 9 mudslide in Montecito. We gave the Westmont Medal to Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown and the KEYT NewsChannel 3 team for their exceptional work and courage during the fire and resulting Montecito debris flow.
$2 million gift establishes the Center for Student Success
I’m delighted to announce that a donor with close ties to the college has given $2 million to establish a Center for Student Success. In the fall, we’ll start coordinating all facets of the college experience to supercharge student success on campus and after graduation. Not only will we provide students with the latest and best resources for succeeding in the classroom, but we’ll offer support as they launch for life.
$750,000 Fletcher Jones Foundation Grant completes the renovation of Whittier Hall
When biology and chemistry students return in the fall, they’ll find newly renovated labs and classrooms. A second grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation funds the final phase of renovation in Whitter Hall, with the work already underway. Through the years, we’ve enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the foundation, and this latest grant continues a strong partnership that has added distinction and excellence to several areas of our academic program.
Great lineup of leaders at Westmont conference
Our fourth annual Lead Where You Stand Conference, June 6-8, 2018, brought over 160 attendees to the new Global Leadership Center. Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian, David Brooks, the New York Times commentator and author, and Lynda Weinman, founder of Lynda.com were our featured speakers. The conference provided an unusual opportunity for executives and their teams to strengthen their leadership skills through a combination of professional input, everyday learning exercises, self-reflection and retreat.
New professors fill endowed chairs
We celebrated two wonderful installations spring semester. Chandra Mallampalli, an accomplished historian and scholar of 19th century India, now holds the Fletcher Jones Foundation chair in the social sciences. Sandra Richter, Robert H. Gundry professor in biblical studies, has written books about the Old Testament for both scholarly and popular audiences.
Meet Scott Lisea, our new campus pastor
I’m excited to welcome alumnus Scott Lisea ’88 as the new campus pastor and assistant to the president for church and community relations. Not only does he bring years of experience in ministry to students, but he fully embraces our commitment to rigorous academics and a deep love of God. I look forward to working with him to establish stronger ties to the church community.
The women’s basketball team finishes second in the nation
After another glorious season, the Warriors won both the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) regular season title and the tournament championship for the third year in a row. The women have dominated the GSAC in recent years under the inspired coaching of Kirsten Moore and her staff. The team advanced all the way to the NAIA final game and lost to Freed-Hardeman in Tennessee.
Five championship Warrior teams
Westmont’s athletic teams continue to excel, and five won GSAC championships this year: men’s soccer, women’s volleyball, women’s basketball, men’s track and field, and women’s track and field. Other teams advancing to National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national tournaments included women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and men’s baseball.
The world comes to Westmont
We continue to host internationally known speakers who bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to campus.
- Guy Kawasaki, a former chief evangelist at Apple and an expert on innovation, offered practical and ethical ways to influence and persuade people and change their minds.
- At the 12th annual President’s Breakfast in February, General Michael Hayden spoke about the effect of disruption on American foreign affairs, drawing on his experience as a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
- We welcomed economist Jeremy Siegel in March, who helped us launch the Economics and Business Lecture Series. An astute observer of the complicated investment universe, he discussed “Factors Impacting Returns on Stocks and Bonds.” He teaches at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
- Alumna Shauna Niequist ’98, a New York Times bestselling author, spoke at our Women’s Leadership Council Luncheon in April.