Provost's Report May 2019

May 2019

The late rains have held off the bronze tones of summer and given us a longer lease on spring. On a recent trip to visit our son in the Central Valley, Arlyne and I saw poppies all over the hills above Tejon Pass and the snowmelt filling streams in the foothills below Sequoia. This year, as much as any, the work of the spring semester has spread into late May, yet that includes the bright task of announcing several exciting faculty appointments in this post-Commencement report. 

First, let me congratulate Felicia Song for being chosen as the vice chair of the faculty and leader of the Faculty Council. This is the highest-elected post among her colleagues. Congratulations are also in order for Rachel Winslow on receiving tenure from the Board of Trustees. Rachel was praised by the trustees for her rapport with community leaders in Santa Barbara as well as for her work to found and direct the Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Ray Rosentrater has long been guiding our student Fulbright applications (Ed Song will carry on those duties), and in Ray's last year we can take pride that two students won Fulbright scholarships to teach abroad. Gabe Grabowski received a grant for Argentina and Noel Hilst was given the honors in Spain. Two students also earned Critical Language Awards (officially, a part of the Fulbright program): Will Walker will study Arabic and Anastasia Heaton will pursue Russian.

Even as we welcome new colleagues in this report, I want to honor several friends who are leaving Westmont this summer. That includes some final words—grateful ones, of course—for retirees Jane and Tim Wilson, as well as appreciations for Toya Cooper, Mary Logue, and Karen Andrews. I hope my summer paths will cross theirs. I hope your summer paths retain some of the luster of spring.

Mark Sargent Signature



Westmont in San Francisco has a new director. Bruce Wydick is a highly esteemed writer and scholar, and an advisor and builder of church, parachurch, and nonprofit programs. He is currently a professor of Economics at the University of San Francisco as well as a distinguished research affiliate at Notre Dame and at the Center for Effective Global Action at UC Berkeley. After earning his undergraduate and master's degrees in Agricultural Economics at UC Davis, he completed his doctorate in Economics at UC Berkeley.

Author of scores of articles in scholarly publications, Bruce has also written widely for Christianity Today, the Huffington Post, PRISM, and other journals aimed at a broad audience. He has just released his latest book, Shrewd Samaritan: Faith, Economics, and the Long Road to Loving our Global Neighbors (HarperCollins). Earlier works include Games in Economic Development (Cambridge University Press). Bruce has received several grants from Ford, Kellogg, and other foundations. He has studied numerous philanthropic endeavors around the world, including shoe donation and child sponsorship programs, and remains active locally with nonprofits, church, and InterVarsity. 

I look forward to Bruce's endeavors to enrich our program at the Clunie House (which will be at capacity this fall for the first time in many years) and also to envision how Westmont can be even more fully engaged as a Christian and educational presence in the Bay Area.


In August the Education Department will welcome Carolyn Mitten to its team. For the past two years, Carolyn has served on the faculty of Moravian College, and prior to that she spent five years as a mathematics teacher at Cumberland Valley High School in Pennsylvania. A graduate of Messiah College, she completed a master's degree at Penn State and then earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida. She has taught courses at all levels, including graduate courses in Data Analysis and Probability.

Carolyn's research focuses on preparing teachers to examine their beliefs about mathematics and to adopt equitable teaching practices that serve all students. She is particularly interested in how formative assessments can help us adapt our instructional practices to motivate and to serve individual learners. After several years of working with Christian youth camps, Carolyn has helped prepare a STEM summer camp this summer for local, low-income elementary students.


Over the summer Adam Goodworth will be joining the Kinesiology Department as a biomechanist. He also has considerable mechanical engineering experience, and I know he will be helpful to us as we develop the new program. Adam is currently in the Rehabilitation Sciences Department at the University of Hartford. He finished his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from the Oregon Health & Sciences University, and earned his undergraduate and master's degrees at the Colorado School of Mines. 

In the past several years Adam has done extensive research on prosthetics, including his efforts to assist the nonprofit LIMB International on projects in Africa. Just recently he won a major grant from the Department of Defense for study on the treatment of knees among those with perturbed walking and stances. Adam has a superb record on securing grants (NIH, NSF, etc.) and looks forward to engaging our students in his research. Some of his other projects include helping a pediatric physical therapist study trunk control in infants and children with cerebral palsy; he sees his merger of engineering and clinical pediatrics as part of his Christian calling to care for those in need.


Barbara DeVivo will become a full-time member of our Economics and Business Department and teach marketing and management. For the past two years, Barbara has been a valued mentor to many students as an adjunct professor, and now she joins the tenure-track faculty. Just this month she completed her Ph.D. at SUNY Albany, and she has also earned an MBA from Mercer College and a bachelor's degree from Cornell. 

Barbara has done extensive marketing for start-up medical device companies, created business plans for healthcare providers, and helped develop and promote oncology and embolization services. As the executive director of marketing at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis, she helped shape and market an MBA program to serve the metropolitan Memphis region. Barbara's expertise offers promising opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration; her dissertation examines how social hierarchy plays a role in the medical profession's treatment of cancer patients.


Stephanie Cowell, a 2004 graduate of Westmont, will return to her alma mater to assume the role of the lab coordinator and stockroom manager for the Chemistry Department. She has already been back once before (in 2014-2015) as a lab instructor. After finishing her degree at Westmont, Stephanie earned her teaching credential and then completed an M.S. in Chemistry from UCI and an M.S. in Science Education from Cal State Long Beach. For the past several years she has worked at the Environmental Charter High School and Middle School in Inglewood and Lawndale. 

Before her recent work in California, Stephanie spent three years teaching and designing programs for grades 8-12 at a boarding school in Franschhoek, South Africa. That was preceded by three years at American International School in Egypt (Cairo) as a science teacher. While at Westmont, Stephanie was twice named an NAIA Scholar-Athlete and played on three national championship soccer teams.








Once again at Commencement we honored three faculty with the Bruce and Adaline Bare Outstanding Teaching Awards and one colleague as the Researcher of the Year. Here's an excerpt from each of the citations read at the ceremony.

Don Patterson (Teacher of the Year): "Our world will be increasingly shaped by big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. So I am grateful that the professor at Westmont who knows the most about all this is also one with a keen moral imagination. Don Patterson's scholarly and creative work models how one blends technological innovation with a social conscience."

Cynthia Toms (Teacher of the Year): "Cynthia Toms has been the driving force behind our Global Health Semester in Uganda, and the chief architect of our Global Studies Minor. For students, her buoyant, intrepid spirit is often inspirational, and she challenges them to embrace high aspirations for citizenship and service."

Alister Chapman (Teacher of the Year): "The clarity on display [in his blog 'The Tip of the Iceberg'] is also one of his gifts as a history professor—Alister makes the complex both accessible and engaging. He helps all of us contemplate the intersections of faith and inquiry, and pushes us toward wisdom and courage rather than pious convention or self-interest. He has that rare ability to critique with rigor and respond with grace."

Beth Horvath (Researcher of the Year): "Decades ago Beth Horvath started assisting the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. She's still there lending a hand—although now she also gets calls from the Smithsonian. Beth has become one of the nation's experts on sea corals, and has been appointed as the main scientific expert on a project by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to categorize deep sea corals and sponges off the western coast."


In addition to granting awards to full-time faculty at Commencement, we recognized three of our colleagues with the Adjunct Faculty Awards at the year-end employee brunch. Each has served our students and colleagues with distinction in their part-time roles, often dedicating far more hours to their work than expected and serving as valuable mentors. 

For more than twenty years, Susan Alexander was professor of Modern Dance at the Paris Conservatory of Music and Dance and for the Paris Opera Ballet Company. In 2008, she returned from France and has taught professionally here since, joining our adjunct faculty in 2011. Mitchell Thomas observes, "Susan is an excellent teacher. She does a wonderful job with Westmont dancers, and brings joy, warmth, and kindness to her work, even as she pushes dancers to new heights and artistic horizons with her choreography. We have deeply appreciated Susan's work for Theatre Arts over the last number of years, and especially appreciate how she goes 'above and beyond' her role as an adjunct."

Andrea DiMaggio teaches flute at Westmont, and is a founding member of Sonos5winds, the woodwind quintet-in-residence at the college. Michael Shasberger writes: "Andrea is amazingly dedicated to her students. She shepherds them with great care and love through an amazing array of musical experiences from flute choir to orchestral music and spectacular flute variations. She contributes joyfully to the department's performance and recruiting efforts, and is typically the first to volunteer when help is needed. She is a virtuostic role model for students."

Ramon Gupta, who is a Westmont graduate, is a corporate attorney with an active practice in Santa Barbara. He has been teaching Business Law the past four years and receives excellent reviews from his students. Rick Ifland describes him as "an incredible communicator in the classroom. He regularly brings in subject-matter experts (from his law firm and others) to put flesh to the bones in the textbook. He is a joy to work with, and really helps the Westmont Downtown program by teaching there."


 Relay Record

For the seventh year in a row Westmont has won the All-Sports Award for the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC). Congratulations once again to Dave Odell, our athletic director, the coaches, and the athletes for keeping our streak alive. A major contributor to the award was the success of Russell Smelley's men's and women's track and field teams, which swept the GSAC championships for the third straight year. Several Westmont athletes have excelled in qualifying for the nationals. That includes, quite notably, the men's 4 x 400 relay team (Pedro Perez Espino, Jarad Harper, Pieter Top, and William Warner), which smashed the school record with a time of 3:11.69—an average of less than 48 seconds per lap. Chena Underhill, who also qualified for the nationals, was Westmont's Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She is a junior Augustinian Scholar with a 3.97 gpa, a pole vaulter, hurdler, long jumper, and sprinter. 

Tennis GSAC

In a major turnaround since she took over the women's tennis team three years ago, Ellie Searle led her club to an undefeated conference season, a convincing win in the GSAC tournament, and a second-round appearance in the nationals. 

The baseball club finished 37-16, along the way making Rob Ruiz the winningest coach in the program's history. Westmont was selected to host the regionals for the NAIA playoffs, and the team fought off three elimination games to make it all the way to the championship matchup, falling in twelve innings.



Later this summer Mary Logue will depart her post as the director of the Voskuyl Library and relocate to San Diego, largely to be closer to her family. Mary joined the library staff almost immediately after she graduated from Westmont, and for the last two decades has served the library with a quiet faithfulness and discerning care. She has accepted many duties over those years, and has played an essential part in helping us all adjust to the changing landscape of information literacy. She has also enhanced our technical services even as technologies rapidly changed.

In the last couple years as the director, Mary has carried extra burdens when needed, sought creative solutions for each impasse, and always found occasions to praise others. She did a splendid job helping us mark the fiftieth anniversary of the library—and she is now a major part of that heritage. I will miss her in the leadership post.

In addition to her work as the college counsel, Toya Cooper has been a teacher and advisor for me as special assistant to the provost for diversity. In that role, she has envisioned and initiated several creative programs, including the "Across Color Lines" film series for staff as well as a trip for the Black Student Union to the African-American History Museum in Washington DC. Toya has organized book groups and joined my own class to help me teach some challenging literary texts.

I have greatly appreciated Toya's candor, her sense of humor, and her friendship. Most of all, she has modeled how any serious endeavor to pursue diversity requires a commitment to listen, a pledge to keep learning, and the will to define daily steps toward equity and understanding. I know that Jane Higa would have been pleased to have known that Toya just received the award named in her honor.


A delegation of eighteen students, led by Katherine Bryant from the Political Science Department, competed in the annual Model United Nations in New York City. Some 5000 delegates, representing hundreds of colleges and universities, were in attendance. Overall, Westmont, which was assigned to represent Guatemala, earned honorable mention at the event. 

Several students were given individual honors. Maddie Weicht and Wesley Stenzel earned an award for their position paper on the World Food Program. Sarah Ferguson claimed a prize for her position paper on UNICEF. And Korbin Breedan and Jonah Zahn earned Outstanding Delegate Awards for their work on the General Assembly's Third Committee.


Karen Andrews completed her twenty-fifth and final year at Westmont this spring. For the past twenty-two years she has been teaching in the Westmont in San Francisco program, offering courses in literature and also developing seminars that introduced students to the history and culture of "the city." “I will never forget how you made me fall in love with my hometown of San Francisco all over again," one student recently wrote. "You challenged my preconceived notions about the city and gently guided my own journey of understanding.”

I have appreciated how Karen, in her blogs and tweets, continually shows a rich love of poetry as it speaks to the specific moment in life and conveys her delight in what students are discovering about their new urban setting—and about themselves. Brad Berky observes that her work "was defined by a measure of openness, hospitality and winsomeness that was truly unique and will be missed by all." He praises her "depth of genuine care for students" as well as her "commitment to helping students 'find their voices' in their writing and conversation." As Karen completed her final semester, several of those students sent good words about her influence in their lives. They commended her "kindness, generosity, and enthusiasm" and her "cool-headedness in discussing difficult and meaningful things." "Thank you for your intentional presence that made us feel heard," one student wrote. "We care for our words more because of you. We care more in general because of you.”  


Shortly after Commencement, Dave Hunter led a two-day professional development workshop on "R," an open-source software environment for statistical computing and graphics. Participants came from Biology, Economics and Business, Mathematics, Political Science, and Psychology, and the group included one student and an alum. The software is rapidly becoming the industry standard for data analysis, and faculty in these departments are considering making increased use of it in their teaching and research. Eileen McQuade remarks, "I first heard about R several years ago and knew many in my field were moving to this platform for statistical analysis. Dave helped demystify the software and showed me how easy it was to learn. The fact that it is 'open-source' makes it particularly attractive for adopting it in courses and allowing students easy access."


Cottage Hospital invited Westmont faculty to join in their annual research symposium, an event they have held in collaboration with UCSB. Eileen McQuade has been our liaison to Cottage on research exchanges. Yi-Fan Lu, Maryke van der Walt, and Carmel Saad were among the scholars represented at the symposium.

John Blondell is in Kazakhstan, where he is directing Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (see poster) for the Russian Theatre of Karaganda Named After Stanislavsky. The show premieres on June 22 and 23—"Midsummer at Midsummer"—and also plays at the Ohrid Summer Festival in Macedonia on August 2. John just received an Independent Theatre Award for his direction of The Magic Flute. Mitchell Thomas was also given an "Indy" award for directing Pride and Prejudice last fall. 

With hopes of helping first-year students make the transition to college, we moved up registration for new students from July to May. The Records Office and the Admissions counselors have worked together very diligently and closely to help students select their schedules and enroll. Early registration, we hope, will strengthen their commitment to Westmont and will also give us substantial time to review the schedules over the summer to ensure that students have all made good choices for their first-semester courses.

Aaron Sizer has agreed to serve as the faculty advisor for the HorizonCarmen McCain will continue advising the Phoenix, our literary journal.

The annual Spring Research Symposium saw a record number of participants: 50 students contributed to 47 posters. The participants came from many disciplines, including Physics, Mathematics, English, History, Communication Studies, Chemistry, Psychology, Computer Science, Biology, and Sociology. Thanks, as always, to Heidi Henes-Van Bergen for her major role in coordinating the event. Another 24 students will be involved with faculty-student research collaborations this summer, most of them from Chemistry, Kinesiology, and Biology.

Several departments—Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science–sponsored a lunch in April for "Women in Tech" that brought together local alums with women in the Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Data Analytics majors. About 20 students attended.

Given the volume of students interested in the Augustinian Scholars and Augustinian Fellows programs, we have added a third section of the first-year Augustinian seminar. Helen Rhee and Telford Work will join Jesse Covington, Ed and Felicia Song, and Jim Taylor as the teaching team for the courses. 

Several First-Year Seminars are once again being offered. One that has attracted immediate interest is a new seminar by Eric Nelson that will address some of the anxieties that impede students' ability to thrive. Among the other seminars, Don Patterson is offering a class on technology, Tom Knecht on democracy, Angela D'Amour on leadership, and Sonya Welch on "starting well." Rob Ruiz and I will offer one on athletics and the liberal arts.

Faculty from all divisions, librarians, and staff members participated in the two-day CUPA/Written Communication assessment workshop led by Sarah Skripsky and Lisa DeBoer. They evaluated student essays collected from thirteen academic departments that addressed the connections between students' Christian commitments and their studies in the major. Sarah, Lisa, Tatiana Nazarenko, and Manuela Long are working to prepare and present the findings during the 2019-2020 academic year.


One year ago, after months of evacuations and improvised schedules, Jane Wilson told Faculty Council that they deserved an emblem of what they had endured together. Her term on the Council was up; she wanted to say thanks for the camaraderie and to acknowledge, with gentle humor, that it had been a ride to remember. So she had buttons for faculty made that read "I survived & thrived amidst fires, mudslides & evacuations." A few faculty wore theirs on Commencement robes.

Here's an idea for next year's buttons: "We survived a year without the Wilsons."

That's assuming we do, of course. After 39 years, Tim Wilson's imprint is all over Student Life, and it may be hard to imagine co-curricular partnerships without him. It's not just in the policies he shaped or in the duties he undertook. It's in the ethos of Student Life at Westmont. It's in the balance of discipline in the moment and redemption in the process. It's in the joy of walking with faculty colleagues and students and relishing their creativity and curiosity (as he did on the review team recently for Westmont in Jerusalem). Or it's in his trusting nature, contagious interest, and easy laugh. In my conversations with Tim, I have always valued that he could mix in some sportive irony—and a good story—without any cost to his magnanimity or principle. To flourish, a community of learners needs some breathing room, wonder, and restorative humor, and whenever I found that in short supply a visit with Tim was always good therapy.

It was equally reinvigorating to see Jane's pride in her students at the annual "Celebration of Teaching." We all know that Jane thinks gratitude is a pretty good thing. She actually thinks it's an art. It's as if she hits the archives to write thank you notes. She does research to make affirmations pitch perfect. Those words are a gift, indeed, because they have been carefully chosen, yet just as rich is the sense that she has been paying attention to the small and significant ways that each person in her world has been contributing to the common good. On Faculty Council, she was always the first to volunteer and then the quickest to organize our scattered promises into a coherent plan. As you might imagine, it always cheered me to discover that she also loved games, quizzes, and prizes. She saw them for what they could be—not just diversions, but glue.

As I have written this tribute to the Wilsons, I have been sitting for a while with a rough draft, or what Shakespeare in his day would have called "foul papers." I wasn't up for iambic pentameter, but I did want to find a worthy final sentence as they exit the stage. In the midst of writer's block, I recalled how deeply Tim and Jane are committed to collaboration, and it struck me that maybe I could ask your help in finishing my text. So I leave you with a sentence filled with enough missing words to make it look like the Mueller Report. Perhaps you can send Jane and/or Tim a note about how you would fill in each of the redactions. Although I always thought ••••••••, I will remember •••••••• as expressive of your •••••••• and presence at Westmont, and I wish you •••••••• on whatever road your new shoes and bikes take you. Godspeed.

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