Rick Ifland ’83, a successful entrepreneur and private equity investor, will direct Westmont’s Eaton Program for Entrepreneurship and Innovation beginning Nov. 1. He will also teach business courses as associate professor of economics and business, a non-tenure-track position. During his interim appointment, Ifland will take a leave of absence from the Westmont Board of Trustees and Board of Advisors.
Drawing on his experience as volunteer chairman of Westmont’s Bright Hope for Tomorrow Campaign, Ifland will work to complete funding for the Eaton Program and the Eaton Chair in Economics and Business. To fill the endowed faculty position, Westmont will seek a distinguished, effective leader with business experience and a passion for undergraduate teaching who can strengthen the economics and business program and expand its global focus. Trustee Emeritus David Eaton and his wife, Carol, contributed the leadership gift for the faculty chair.
“I love the ministry of Westmont, and I look forward to a more active involvement with the academic program,” Ifland says. “Westmont, with its rich history and tradition of combining academic rigor with a deep Christian faith, stands at the crossroads of faith and learning, giving it an unmatched positional advantage in engaging the business world for eternal significance. We have the opportunity, through the Eaton Program, to demonstrate how faith can inform and shape successful businesswomen and businessmen around the globe.”
“Rick is one of our most distinguished alumni,” says President Gayle D. Beebe. “He’s been a faithful board member — I’ll never forget how he dropped everything to fly to Santa Barbara the day after the Tea Fire to help us with our recovery. He’ll be a terrific mentor for our students and an effective networker in the Santa Barbara business community.”
“Rick’s considerable business experience and heart for the college will benefit us as we develop plans for the future of the economics and business program,” says Westmont Provost Mark Sargent. “I have been impressed by how deeply he wants to serve our students — to mentor and advise them as they chart their own journeys.”
Professor Edd Noell, who chairs the economics and business department, is pleased to welcome Ifland. “As an alumnus, parent of Westmont students, and member of the Board of Advisors, Rick has faithfully demonstrated a clear identity with our mission to prepare students to be thoughtful persons of integrity in representing Christ in the fields of economics and business,” Noell says. “He brings valuable experience as an entrepreneur and reflective scholar in the legal and moral dimensions of business. We’re confident our students will benefit from his work both in the classroom and in building their connections to the Santa Barbara business community.”
Ifland majored in economics and business at Westmont and earned an M.B.A. at the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree in international law at Oxford University. He started a company that transformed automation in the mortgage credit industry, eventually selling it to a Fortune 500 company. He has since purchased 24 companies, improving and then selling 17 of them. Still active in seven ventures as the general partner of Oxford Holdings LLC, he plans to engage students in his work, exposing them to businesses as varied as construction infrastructure, aeromedicine and global research.
While excellence in business typically translates into making a profit, Ifland also seeks to make a difference. He’s led and established non-governmental organizations to help the poor in the Middle East and Africa and uses his business experience to advise various ministries.
Ifland met his wife, Neile Allen Ifland ’84, at Westmont, and their two oldest children are graduates. Dani Ifland Upton ’07 stays home to care for her toddler while expecting a second child. Kirby ’09 graduates from Harvard Law School in 2013 and will practice law in Kentucky. Crawford ’15 just began his sophomore year at Westmont.
Ifland looks forward to sharing his passion for business with students. “Westmont changed my life,” he says, “teaching me how to learn, how to think and how to care. I want to inspire students to embrace hard work, avoid easy answers, seek daily excellence and dive deeper into the important things in life.”