Westmont Magazine Value-Added Education
When their older son enrolled at the University of California at Irvine, Charles and Susan Abbott accepted his decision with little reluctance. The owner of a civil engineering firm that contracts with cities to provide most municipal services, Charlie works with people in the public sector every day. So does Susan, who teaches students with learning disabilities at a large public high school in Rancho Palos Verdes. Sending their son to a major research university seemed sensible.
But Charles III’s experience at UCI led the Abbotts to think twice about state-supported higher education. Disappointed with the narrow perspective the faculty presented, they found the pervasive lack of emphasis on morality and values disturbing.
Then one day, Charlie heard James Dobson of Focus on the Family encourage parents to send their students to Christian colleges for a well-rounded education. He made a note of Dr. Dobson’s advice.
With his second son, Mark, in mind, Charlie began inquiring about Christian colleges on the West Coast. After consulting his pastor and reviewing a Christian college guide, he learned about Westmont. Father and son both came to campus, and a conversation with John Kirkgard, who was then the baseball coach, stuck in their minds. Mark played baseball in high school and hoped to go out for a college team. Coach Kirkgard challenged the Abbotts to find another college that offered as much as Westmont did: a high quality liberal arts education, a committed Christian environment, and a competitive baseball program. After visiting other schools, Mark decided to enroll at Westmont, and he is now a junior majoring in economics and business.
Hearing college officials openly discuss their faith during Mark’s Orientation program greatly encouraged the Abbotts. They know that members of the college community share the values they believe in. By attending Parents Weekend for the past two years, they have come to know Westmont better and have shared stories with other parents. As new members of the Parents Council, the Abbotts will have additional opportunities to meet with parents, college officials, and faculty. They look forward to supporting Westmont’s program and spreading the word about the college in the Rancho Palos Verdes area of Southern California where they live. Susan also hopes to encourage high school students she encounters to consider Westmont.
Like many parents, Susan has seen her son struggle with the difficult transition from high school to college. As a teacher, she has additional insight into the kinds of skills students need to be successful and the different ways they learn. The varied expertise, backgrounds, and experiences of members like Susan make the Parents Council an important and valuable advisory group.