Westmont Magazine Rigorous Academics and a Deep Love of God
What a joy it is to be at Westmont! Pam and I are settling into our new responsibilities, and the kids are doing great. If you’d like to get to know the entire Beebe family, check out pages 14-15 in this issue.
In the next 12-36 months we have a number of important goals to achieve. First and foremost is Phase I construction under the terms of our approved Campus Master Plan. After seven long, arduous years, Santa Barbara County finally approved our request to update our plan and provide more detailed information about the buildings required to complete the campus. We hope to get over our last legal challenge at a hearing scheduled for December. We prepared for this action all along and feel confident we will prevail.
Initially, we hoped to break ground next May, but we have delayed the start of construction to October 2008 for several reasons. Not only will we make sure the lawsuit is resolved, but we’ll have more time to develop effective, detailed plans.
As we prepare to build, we are also amplifying our five distinctives: liberal arts, Christian, undergraduate, residential and global. Each of these elements reflects the primary priorities of the singular mission to which we are called. To celebrate my inauguration April 11, 2008, we are planning a variety of special presentations that will illustrate our commitment to these key themes. I intend to honor and support this rich tradition.
This past summer, I read several books by Ignatius of Loyola. His autobiography is one of my favorites. He goes into wonderful detail about his love of life and his spirit of self-indulgence before being seriously wounded during a battle. The rehabilitation from his wounds took more than two years. During that time, he underwent one of the most remarkable transformations in the history of the church. The process of recovery led him to reconsider the destiny and purpose of his life. As a result, he felt led to begin a life of service and to establish universities throughout the world.
As he describes the events leading up to his life-changing decision, he explains how religious extremism on one side and religious apathy on the other inspired him to pursue the middle way with zeal. He developed a philosophy of life based on rigorous academics and a deep love of God. When I think of Westmont, these are the twin rails of the mission that captivate me: rigorous academics and a deep love of God.
Over the next 10 years there is so much we need to accomplish. We will continue to provide a top-tier education and a meaningful student life program that promotes growth in all areas of life, intellectual, spiritual and personal. Experiential learning opportunities that augment the all-important classroom work will remain an essential part of our curriculum and something we hope most students will pursue. With the growing interconnectedness of the world, we will build on the global programs we offer that transform the mental and intellectual visions of our students. The world is changing, and our graduates need to be ready to take their place in it.
More than anything, I hope our engagement with the great issues of society and the vexing dilemmas of our global community will only intensify in the years ahead. Preparing thoughtful Christian leaders equipped to participate in these discussions is so essential and something we think we do well. Raising challenging issues, examining them from all sides and articulating a Christian response form the heart of our approach.
Pam and I are blessed to be here, but we feel a tremendous burden to complete the important work God began at Westmont and faithful people have continued throughout the years. We look forward to forming new friendships in the days and months ahead as we engage in the great work we are called to accomplish at Westmont.