Led by bagpipes, more than 300 Westmont graduates marched from Kerrwood Hall through the formal gardens to Russell Carr Field May 4 for Commencement. Cloudy skies kept families and friends cool and comfortable as they cheered the graduating students. Senior biology students decorated their mortarboard hats with cutout trees, while kinesiology students included a favorite Bible verse of the late Alex Moore on their hats: “Do the Work.” This year’s Commencement featured two three-generation Westmont alumni families and a growing number of alumni parents.
Beebe gave the Westmont Medal to Edward and Suzanne Birch, leaders in the education community and active volunteers in Santa Barbara organizations.
Ronald C. White, the Commencement speaker, reflected on Abraham Lincoln’s Sermon on the Mount. White, a Lincoln scholar and author of numerous books about the 16th president, said Lincoln’s second inaugural address was an attempt to be inclusive, to acknowledge that both the North and the South were responsible for the Civil War and to urge healing. He compared 1865 to the deep political decisions that exist today and noted the need to embrace Lincoln’s last paragraph, which he asked everyone to repeat with him: “With malice toward none, with charity for all.”
Vice President and Dean of Students Jane Higa, who announced her retirement in March after serving for 24 years at Westmont, completed her final official duty by handing student awards to J.J. Turbin, Kristin Lo, Lillian Yamese and Daniel Gee.
Lo, who served as Westmont College Student Association president, earned the Dave Dolan Award for contributing to the awareness and response to the social and spiritual needs of the community, the nation and the world.Turbin and Candice Adema, who was unable to attend, earned the Dean’s Award as outstanding graduates who’ve demonstrated excellence in the classroom and made superior contributions to an athletic team. Turbin, who earned All-Golden State Athletic Conference honors playing center field for the Warriors baseball team, graduated with a degree in communication studies. Adema, who was named to the All-GSAC volleyball team, graduated with a 3.76 GPA in economics and business.
Higa gave Yamase and Gee the Kenneth Monroe Award for their superior academic achievement in the classroom and as leaders on campus. Gee also won the Faculty Scholarship Award for the student with the best academic performance: 4.0 GPA.
The college announced the creation of the Jane Higa Academic and Co-Curricular Partnership Award, which offers $1,000 annually to a faculty or staff member who continues the productive working relationship between faculty and student life staff that Higa has cultivated over the years.
Provost Mark Sargent announced Russell Howell, professor of mathematics, as the new Kathleen Smith professor of natural and behavioral sciences. Howell, who has been teaching at Westmont for 35 years, co-edited a book, “Mathematics Through the Eyes of Faith,” which examines the connections between math and faith. Kathleen Smith, a longtime neighbor of the college, left $1.7 million in her will for Westmont when she died in 1988.
Omedi Ochieng, associate professor of communication studies, Stephen Contakes, assistant professor of chemistry, and Michelle Hughes, assistant professor of education, earned the Bruce and Adaline Bare Outstanding Teacher Awards.
Alister Chapman, associate professor of history, won the Faculty Research Award for his scholarly work, which includes the book, “Godly Ambition: John Stott and the Evangelical Movement.”
President Gayle D. Beebe gave a plaque to Terry and Betsy Davis, the parents of Nick Davis, who died in a solo-motorcycle crash in January, and awarded Nick a posthumous degree.
Here is a photo slideshow from Commencement 2013.