Rebuilding after the Tea Fire nears completion as do some new projects under Westmont’s updated master plan
A huge crane picked up and delicately lowered Westmont’s powerful Keck Telescope into its new home, a yet-to-be named observatory beyond the outfield fence of the baseball field. Consultants from the company that built the telescope, professors and students are fine tuning the high-tech instrument to make it available for academic work and public viewings by school groups and local residents.
The observatory, which contains a downstairs classroom and outside viewing platform, is the first building completed under the college’s updated Master Plan. Faculty and students will see images from the telescope on computer monitors inside the lower-level classroom. The location next to the athletic fields minimizes light intrusion and heat waves that rise from paved surfaces during the night.
The instrument is among the most powerful public telescopes on California’s Central Coast. The W. M. Keck Foundation made a $300,000 grant for the telescope, and the James L. Stamps Foundation and other donors also contributed to the project.
Ultimately, Westmont hopes to make the telescope available to other colleges and universities so they can conduct research with it remotely, studying variable stars, cataclysmic binaries, extragalactic supernova and gamma ray bursts. A little closer to home, students will track near-Earth objects and view minor planets in the asteroid belt.
Before students arrived for the first day of classes Aug. 31, crews put the finishing touches on the three Clark Hall buildings destroyed in the Tea Fire. Students there are enjoying redesigned interior spaces and new utilities and restroom facilities.
About 20 resident assistants helped long-time Clark Hall Resident Director Mark McCormick move into his family’s new cottage. “It’s a double-edged sword,” McCormick says. “It’s bittersweet that our old house is gone and all the memories we had there, but it’s also nice to be out of temporary housing. We can now make this a home.” The cottage, Clark F, has been rebuilt to better fit the needs of McCormick and the students who visit his home.
One of the first noticeable changes on campus is the new Cold Spring Road entrance, which features a stone wall. Many of the larger stones there have been quarried from other construction areas on campus. Workers have planted about a dozen native oak trees near a new infiltration basin inside the entrance.
The men’s and women’s soccer team play their home games this season at Westmont’s Lovik Field, Santa Barbara City College’s La Playa Stadium or UC Santa Barbara’s Harder Stadium while a new track and field/soccer complex is being built. Soil from the basements of Adams Center for the Visual Arts and Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics has been used to raise the elevation of the new track and soccer complex. Heavy machinery has been carving tiered, four-foot wide seating terraces into the hillside above the track. Workers are building a restroom facility that will include track storage and a scorer’s area. The new baseball field has been shifted slightly to accommodate the observatory and new campus road. Both the baseball field and the track will be ready for action by the start of the spring semester.