Faculty Tributes

Shaping Character
by Shirley Mullen, Vice Provost

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he says he has no need for a letter of recommendation; the Corinthians themselves are his letter. In much the same way, David Winter can point to Westmont for his character references. After 25 years, the college bears the imprint of his own character.

For example, Westmont seeks to be known for what we support and not what we oppose. Dave has sought to make Westmont a Christian liberal arts college known for the competence and good character of its students, for its graciousness, hospitality and service to the community, and for its engagement with the world of American higher education.

Westmont is also a college that invites young people into the very heart of the evangelical heritage. Dave speaks of a college that is uncompromisingly evangelical in its commitment to the authority of scripture and to the importance of personal faith in Jesus Christ. But he also speaks of a Westmont that works through invitation, example and persuasion rather than coercion. Dave has called us to see that the spiritual vitality of the faculty, staff and administrators will preserve Westmont’s evangelical heritage more effectively than our policies on behavior. He has called us to see that students are more likely to grow up and to grow old in the faith if they have been free to ask the hard questions and to make and to own their own choices along the way.

Third, Westmont is a college that celebrates undergraduates. In the residences, in chapel, in the classroom, Dave has encouraged us to meet students exactly where they are and to value their exuberance, honor their dreams, and participate in their enthusiasms.

Finally, Dave has called us to be one of the best liberal arts colleges in American higher education, not just in Christian higher education. He has invited us to bring together recognizable strength in teaching and scholarship and a vital program of student development at a college that, in every facet, manifests the preeminence of our savior, Jesus Christ. Dave has also called us to offer students an education to grow into — not an education to grow out of. His Westmont offers students questions that are honest and large enough, tools that are refined enough, problems that are challenging enough, and a Christian hope that is sustaining enough to last them for a lifetime.

A Good Neighbor
by Tony Askew, Professor of Art

Since coming to Westmont in 1976 David Winter’s friendship with Montecito and the greater Santa Barbara community has endeared him to many. His friendship, his intellectual and organizational abilities, his prominence in the educational world and his sincerity as a follower of Christ make him unique and unmatchable.

I think we all know how we benefit from this open, hospitable and gracious outreach. Dr. Winter has carefully presented a true commitment to honest relationships and understanding based on meaningful conversation and a good-neighbor policy. This has allowed Westmont to grow from 840 students in 1976 to our current 1,200. We know this outreach has been extremely effective in spite of sometimes difficult community-college dealings. With his broad smile, warmth, humility and generous spirit, David Winter has served beyond expectations. His activities in local organizations have spread understanding of the college’s mission without ever compromising the personal enthusiasm of his faith.

His civic activism and patient “neighboring” has and will continue to benefit the college in numerous ways. His genuine welcoming of others and openness to others’ ideas, brings to Santa Barbara an inviting positive image of Westmont College.

David is greatly blessed by the warmth and hospitality of his lovely wife, Helene.

Helene Winter’s graciousness and her own community outreach make her a strong partner in Christian leadership. She currently serves on the board of the Braille Institute, the Women’s Board of the Music Academy of the West and the Westmont Arts Council- we count on her continuing these activities! Helene, we are indebted to you also, for your outreach. You have not just won David’s heart – but that of us all! -who are privileged to work with you.

Walking the Gates
by Russell Howell, Professor of Mathematics

When I think of David Winter’s involvement in commissions, boards and committees over the years, Mordecai comes to mind. As you recall, he was one of the exiles that Nebuchadnezzar took into Babylon. His mission in life was to raise Esther after her parents died, and he saw to the details of her upbringing. He even walked back and forth in front of the king’s palace each day to learn how she was doing during the 12 months she was preparing to present herself before the king. It was painstaking work that few people noticed. Nevertheless, it had enormous results. Esther became queen and the king eventually heard of Mordecai’s other good works and honored him. But Israel also benefited in ways that neither Mordecai nor anyone else could have possibly anticipated.

For Mordecai, attending to administrative details involved sacrificially caring for another during a time when such self-sacrifice was extremely inconvenient. For presidents of colleges, it involves the added burden of leadership roles in various organizations that don’t seem to bear on the urgent business of the day.

David’s reason for involvement is that, like Mordecai, he is on a great mission: Christian education. He sees committees and boards as effective ways of getting things done. When students express frustration with their first exposure to bureaucracy, David will frequently say, only partly tongue-in-cheek, “Look, if you want to change the world for Jesus Christ, join a committee.”

At the moment, however, David has a great concern that the finer Christian colleges will become marginalized, being seen by the larger academy as nothing more than large indoctrination machines. This attitude could result in serious disadvantages to their students.

So David has walked the gates for 25 years in the midst of the pressures of his presidency to keep Westmont — his queen — “on the list.” He didn’t start off to make a name for himself. But his good works were recorded, and he gave faithful service to numerous higher education organizations. He became chair of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and then a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Because of his commitment, Westmont is not marginalized today. Under David’s leadership, the college has risen dramatically on the national scene.

And so, 25 years later, your good works, David, have certainly been recorded in the book of the chronicles of the king. As it was for Israel, so also has Christendom benefited in ways that we would not have anticipated. And, as it was for Mordecai, may the king, our king, the only true king, so honor you.

Dave the Person
by Robert Wennberg, Professor of Philosophy

We have come to know Dave the person in so many different settings: dropping by to see you in your office, having a brief exchange in the halls of Kerrwood, receiving a note from you or a voice-mail commenting appreciatively on something we have done (minor though it may be), listening to your presidential briefings, hearing you speak in chapel, watching you conduct a graduation ceremony, being hosted in your home, serving on a committee with you, witnessing you function during times of institutional crisis and tragedy.

One thing is certain: you have been a loyal and faithful servant of the college. You have been concerned about her future, you have worried about her, you have prayed for her, you have devoted immeasurable amounts of energy to her, and you have strategized endlessly on her behalf.

Another certainty: You are a hard worker. I do believe that if you got paid by the hour, the college simply could not afford you. It there were such a thing as a Consumer’s Report for College Presidents, you would be listed under “Best Buys.”

As our president you have functioned with a relaxed and informal dignity, with not so much as a hint of arrogance or a sense of superiority.

You have always respected others, their opinions and feelings, and have been concerned about their well being. I think making hard personnel decisions has been difficult for you because you genuinely care for people and for their welfare.

Further, you don’t have a vindictive bone in your body. I’ve always felt free to come into your office and have my say with no fear of retaliation or of being on the “outs” with the president. You have thereby created an atmosphere where people have been free to be themselves, to say what they think. At Westmont– because of you — it has not been leadership by intimidation.

The presidency brings with it enormous burdens and unrelenting pressures. For 25 years you have borne those burdens and withstood those pressures. In this you have had the endurance of a long-distance runner, and it is so wonderful to see you sprinting to the finish line. You have not faded as some runners do, Indeed, I think many would say, you have never run better.

And recently you have had the additional challenge of having lost your sight. You have not only continued to be an effective leader of the college, making all the difficult adjustments necessary to carry on with your heavy responsibilities and busy schedule, for which you have earned our admiration and deepest respect, but you have also modeled something special for this community. For in time and in varying degrees, all of us will confront our own challenges. But we will have one advantage over you. We will have your example to inspire and instruct us: don’t quit, make adjustments, no self-pity, trust God, be faithful, move ahead. For the gift of that example, we will be forever in your debt.

Dave the Builder
by Niva Tro, Professor of Chemistry

I first met Dave as a high school senior looking for a college; Dave was a college president at a Los Angeles admissions event. I listened to what he had to say about Westmont, and then I enrolled. It was the best decision I ever made. For 20 years now — first as a student, then as an alumnus, and now as a faculty member — I have been privileged to be a part of something that David Winter has been building.

Dave has been a leader with vision. He was a dreamer of big dreams at a college with small budgets. But he dreamed those dreams nonetheless — and he made them come true, adding many buildings to the campus.

What is most important is that these buildings hold a college and a community that Dave Winter has also built.

Dave, you have built an extraordinary college —a premier Christian liberal arts college — that rivals any other such institution in the world.

Consider the following statistics. In Dave’s first years here, Westmont had 65 full-time faculty and about 850 students. Today, Westmont has 90 full-time faculty and 1,200 students. Back then, Westmont received about 800 applications for admission — today the total is nearly 2,000. The average entering GPA was about 3.1, today it is 3.6, and the average entering SAT was about 950, today it is 1200. When Dave came to Westmont it was a regional college with minimal national recognition. Today Westmont is ranked among the top 120 national liberal arts colleges and draws students from around the world.

Thank you, Dave, for dreaming big dreams. Thank you for your commitment and tireless efforts to make those dreams come true. You have given us a rich history, a proud legacy, and a bright future. Each one of us is grateful for the privilege of being a part of the Westmont College you have built. Your work will affect the rest of our lives and will shape the college for centuries to come. For that, we are eternally grateful.

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