President’s Briefing February 2019

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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Thank you for the love you show for Westmont. We appreciate your great support throughout the year, especially in February! Pam and I hosted the President’s Ball earlier this month, and it’s always one of my favorite events with our students. Last week, Peggy Noonan spoke at the President’s Breakfast and inspired us with her clear thinking, broad perspective and comments about our six recent U.S. presidents. A panel of three students asked her substantive questions about her books and her life, and I loved seeing her engage with them.

This month, we’re bringing updates from each of our key areas.


Provost’s Office and Academic Affairs

Mark Sargent

Professors have published new books recently. Carmen McCain, assistant professor of English, and co-author Brandon Kendhammer of Ohio University have published “Boko Haram,” part of the Ohio Short Histories of Africa Series. The volume recounts Boko Haram’s fierce, decade-long war in Nigeria, discussing the group’s 2014 abduction of 276 girls in Chibok and the international outrage about it.

Cynthia Toms, associate professor of kinesiology, and co-author Paul Kollman of Notre Dame, have published “Understanding World Christianity: East Africa,” part of a series on World Christianity from Fortress Press. Mark Noll commends the volume for its “breadth, depth, and insight . . . its standpoint bracingly ecumenical (Catholics, Anglicans, other missionary-founded churches, Pentecostals, African Independent Churches), its critiques boldly realistic.”

Paul Willis has published his sixth book of poetry, “Little Rhymes for Lowly Plants” (White Violet Press). Paul says, “The collection is a botanical, biblical, somewhat cynical, and otherwise grossly sentimental stew of verse in rhyme and in meter.”

Serah Shani, assistant professor of anthropology, has published a book, “African Immigrant Families in the United States: Transnational Lives and Schooling” (Lexington Books, a division of Rowan & Littlefield.) She describes how Sub-Saharan immigrants have flourished, providing a remarkable model of social mobility and advancement through education.

Telford Work has written “Jesus—the End and the Beginning” (Baker Academic). He says the book is pitched to readers who have “some familiarity with the big topics of Christian theology—salvation, incarnation, Trinity, church, and our hoped for future (theologians call this ‘eschatology’)—but are struggling with them.”

Jenny Jaggard will serve as our new head coach of the women’s soccer program. For the past five years, she has served as an assistant coach at Chico State. “From a large field of applicants, Jenny rose to the top for several reasons,” says Athletic Director Dave Odell. “On the coaching side, I was drawn to Jenny’s experience producing winning programs as a championship high school coach and as a collegiate assistant at Chico State. In particular, she has worked with legendary coach Kim Sutton at Chico State. That went a long way with me.”


Student Life

Edee Schulze

The Center for Student Success continues to make progress every week. Recently, we hired five peer coaches, and they’ve been meeting with students who need additional assistance with time management, decision making and navigating some aspect of their college experience.

On March 2, our Global Education and Career Development and Calling offices will host the first annual Global Employability Seminar, designed to help students take their global experience into their future vocations. They’ll learn how their studies abroad, their global education and other elements of their time at Westmont set them apart in the job market.



Westmont has completed construction of 13 condominiums and expanded our portfolio of affordable faculty housing. Known as Tejado Grove, the condos are near downtown Santa Barbara and offer an alternative to the single-family homes found adjacent to campus in Las Barrancas. The college has now built 54 affordable homes for our professors and their families.
After an extensive search process, Westmont has hired Vanguard to serve as the investment manager for the college’s endowment. The company brings significant expertise in managing investments and supporting back-office technology. Through efficiencies in these and other areas, the college stands to save $500,000 per year in investment-related costs. This means more money will stay invested to support scholarships, endowed faculty chairs and other programs.


College Advancement and Information Technology


As part of Westmont on the Road, the Admissions, Advancement and Alumni Relations offices joined the Music Department in Tempe, Arizona, at King of Glory Lutheran Church on February 16. Prospective students, alumni, donors and friends of the college gathered to hear the Westmont Orchestra perform during their annual spring tour. President Beebe spoke about new Westmont initiatives to a full room of students and invited guests at a catered reception before the concert. This strategic, combined effort helped us cultivate new relationships in the greater Phoenix area.

Information Technology recently replaced our wireless network, upgrading coverage and performance across the entire campus. Westmont was the first school in the United States to implement the new 802.11ax protocol, which will serve new generations of smartphones, tablets and computers. Since the upgrade, nearly 4,000 wireless devices have connected to the Westmont network on a daily basis.

Enrollment, Marketing and Communications 

irene Neller

Newly admitted students for fall 2019 are visiting Westmont in record numbers. They come ready to experience our close-knit community and see for themselves one of the country’s most beautiful campuses. Research demonstrates that students who visit campus enroll at a higher rate than those who don’t travel to Westmont. Visits yield more students than any other admissions effort. If you know someone who would be a great fit for Westmont, send them to visit us. Preview Day (March 30) is coordinated with Spring Sing this year, and Admitted Student Days is April 12-13.




We’re receiving great feedback about the refreshed Westmont magazine! Once you’ve read it cover to cover, we hope you’ll pass it on to a friend, prospective student or supporter who can enjoy the stories of inspiration, hope and momentum at Westmont. Look for the spring 2019 issue early in May.

Nearly two months remain until the end of the spring semester and Commencement on May 4. Pray for our students, who are taking midterms, preparing for spring missions trips, beginning to search for a job, or deciding on graduate school. Our data demonstrates that 97 percent of our graduating students are employed or pursuing graduate schools six months after Commencement. We’re always eager to encourage and help place our talented students in fulfilling positions. If you’re interested in supporting our career development office, connect with us. Your next great hire could be a Westmont graduate.


Beebe Signature

Gayle D. Beebe, Ph.D.