David Cole says a central theme of his life is watching things grow. A biochemist for 36 years at UC Berkeley, he observed biology develop from a collection of unrelated fields to a unified, systematic discipline attracting an increasing number of majors. With three children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, he has seen his family expand over the years. A Westmont trustee from 1994-2006, he has witnessed the remarkable growth that occurs in students while they’re enrolled at the college.
Serving on the board at Westmont has been one of the high points of my life,” David says. “I’ve appreciated the relationships trustees develop with each other and their keen focus on the liberal arts aspect of the college. The time of worship and sharing that begins each trustee meeting was deeply meaningful.
David believes wholeheartedly in the mission of Westmont. “At a small, liberal arts college students can be immersed in their education and enjoy close interaction with professors,” he says. “That is such a valuable experience, especially for students who struggle with their faith in an intellectual way. Westmont sends out graduates with a thorough, intellectual grasp of their faith, who are well equipped to present it wherever they go. I’ve been impressed with the quality of the Westmont alumni I’ve met — not just with their accomplishments but with the quality of their lives as well.”
Multiple generations of David’s family attended UC Berkeley. His grandmother earned a degree in French there (she really wanted to study mathematics), David graduated with a major in biochemistry and his late wife, Thelma, studied English literature and American history. Their son also went to Berkeley. David lived there most of his life and only moved to Santa Barbara in 1996 to be close to Westmont. As much as he admires the university, he believes Westmont offers a kind of Christian community impossible to achieve there.
David and Thelma, who died in 2008, established a bequest and a charitable remainder trust benefitting Westmont and belong to the Wallace Emerson Society. “I’m grateful God allowed me to be involved with Westmont,” he says. “It’s been a stimulating experience and one of God’s rich rewards.”