The Business of Education

Returning to their home on the campus of Bethany College in Scotts Valley, Calif., reminds Eric and Rebekah Davis ’93 Stemm of their days at Westmont. College students playing with the Stemm’s children, eating in the dining commons and cheering on Eric’s intramural basketball team are part of the perks of “living where Daddy works.”

In March, Eric became the vice president of business and chief financial officer of Bethany College, a Christian school affiliated with the Assemblies of God. The Stemms and their six children enjoy the instant community they have encountered.

Eric worked at Intel for five years as finance manager before leaving the business world for higher education. Wanting his career to have more purpose — something more closely related to kingdom work — he had been rethinking his life and what it means to be successful. Eric and Rebekah clearly see Westmont’s influence throughout this process.

“Around this time, we visited Santa Barbara and Ron Cronk, Westmont’s vice president of finance, kindly took the time to talk with me about my career,” Eric says. “I asked him about his job and how I could go about getting one like it. He was very helpful.” Ron promised to keep an eye out for a position for Eric and e-mailed him a year later about the opening at Bethany.

“The most challenging aspect of my position is managing the wide scope of things — juggling all the balls,” Eric says. “But it’s also the most exciting and interesting part.” Many department heads report to Eric. Every day brings something different, from holding project-focused meetings to settling legal, budget and planning issues.

“Besides meeting Rebekah our freshman year, the most valuable experience I gained from Westmont was good training,” Eric says. “Business Professor Millender brought practical experience to the classroom, and the International Business Institute really opened my eyes.” During his junior year Eric was a resident assistant. “That’s how I learned to lead without any real authority,” he says.

After graduating from Westmont, Eric and Rebekah spent two years in Moscow, Russia, teaching English and doing mission work for International Teams in Chicago. While there, they visited a number of orphanages.

“They were sad and heart-moving places,” Eric recalls. Before they had children of their own, they decided to adopt a child.

“We were walking in Moscow one day, and I asked Eric if he’d ever adopt a child,” Rebekah says. “He said, ‘Sure,’ without hesitation and with such confidence that I fell even more in love with him.” The Stemms now have three boys and three girls (one adopted from Russia and one from Guatemala) all under the age of nine. Rebekah uses her degree in history and education by home-schooling them all.

“Family is a great invention by God,” Rebekah says. The Stemms feel honored to give their children the legacy of belonging to a diverse family—the family of God, higher education and each other.

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