President’s Briefing December 2018

Gayle D. Beebe, Ph.D.

Gayle D. Beebe became Westmont’s eighth president in 2007 after serving as president of Spring Arbor University in Michigan for seven years. His inauguration in 2008 featured speeches by Steve Forbes, chief executive officer of Forbes, and Steve Sample, former president of the University of Southern California.

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Merry Christmas from Westmont!

Our Christmas celebrations began November 27 with the annual pickle tree-lighting ceremony on Kerrwood Lawn. The following weekend we enjoyed four glorious performances of the Westmont Christmas Festival, Gloria in Excelsis Deo: The Song of the Angels, featuring the Westmont Orchestra, College Choir, Chamber Singers and Choral Union under the direction of Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship. More than 3,000 friends joined the extended Westmont community at these events, and I was delighted to connect with many.




Pam and I enjoyed sharing a special Christmas dinner with the students in the Dining Commons on December 5 and heard about their holiday plans and desire to rest and reconnect with family and friends. They finished their final exams last week, and we look forward to their return for the spring semester on January 7. Our final celebration brought staff and faculty to our home for a festive brunch, giving us an opportunity to thank them for their commitment and service in 2018. It’s been a remarkable year! Read more highlights for December below.

Happy Birthday, Voskuyl Library

We celebrated Voskuyl Library’s 50th birthday December 3. I developed a love for libraries through frequent trips with my mother as a youngster in Eugene, Oregon. I hope Voskuyl Library will always stand as a place that embodies one the deepest and best held values of the college as a center of the mind and a place where students explore the next horizon with their intellect.

Diane Ziliotto, special collections librarian, recounted the meticulous move into the new library May 16, 1968, with 62-year-old Eleanor Armington carrying the first armload of books. Eleanor and her husband, Everett, donated the first $200,000 to get library construction underway and chose to name it for Roger Voskuyl, who served Westmont so faithfully as its third president.

Mary Logue, library director, quoted Vernon Ritter, the first director of the library, who spoke at the dedication and described the facility as “the catalyst by which we can mix together in a meaningful and fruitful way the members of our academic community and the ideas that have made history and changed the world and will yet change us.”

She said the library continues to be a catalyst. “It’s a testament that 50 years later this building is able to support the needs of 21st century students.”

Read more about the library celebration.

Westmont Adds a New Minor in Environmental Studies

I’m excited to announce another new Westmont program: a minor in environmental studies, which awaits approval by the trustees. Biology professor Amanda Sparkman chaired the committee that developed the proposal and included Marianne Robins (history), Steve Contakes (chemistry), Lisa DeBoer (art history), and Caryn Reeder (religious studies). A former Gaede Institute conference, Liberal Arts for a Fragile Planet, helped inspire the new program . The interdisciplinary minor features a new course, Introduction to Environmental Studies, and requires a total of 20 credits, with students selecting electives from each of the three academic divisions (Humanities, Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and Social Sciences). Goals included “situating stewardship of the earth in the context of Christian theology and environmental ethics” and “fostering an ability to analyze and debate complex environmental problems, and devise constructive, imaginative strategies to address them.”

New Map Puts Westmont Outside of the Evacuation Zone

On December 3, the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management released its updated evacuation planning map, clearly showing Westmont outside of the evacuation zone when faced with weather storm threats. We’re delighted that the Sheriff’s Department has given us the highest commendation for our shelter-in-place program. 

Yellow identifies schools in this map; note Cold Spring School below Westmont. Neither appears in the darker yellow identifying a “school to close during an evacuation.” This means that county officials expect Westmont and Cold Spring to be safe from destructive flooding or debris flow. 

Santa Barbara County Flood Evacuation Map Dated 12/3/18

Westmont will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement and emergency officials in monitoring storms and activating our SAFE Plan (Shelter Activated for Flood Emergencies) when necessary.

As we end an especially eventful year, we’re thankful for the grace and provision of God and the love and support of our extended family of alumni, parents and friends. Thank you for being part of our community. I wish you much joy and many blessings this Christmas and throughout the new year.


Gayle Beebe Signature

Gayle D. Beebe, Ph.D.

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