Presidential Tributes

People Listen to David Winter
by Bob Andringa, President of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

When David Winter speaks in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, everyone listens! Founded just after Dave assumed the Westmont presidency, the CCCU has grown along with the college. Dave served on the council’s board in the early days, including a term as chair. He has spoken at presidents’ and other CCCU conferences many times. His refreshing candor and godly wisdom have guided individuals and organizations beyond count.</p>
<p>Dave and Helene have mentored countless colleagues playing similar roles on other campuses. Their commitment to Christ and to Christian worldview education is unquestioned. Even Dave’s unfortunate loss of sight has not hindered their contributions to our movement.

On a personal level, Dave has given me wise counsel on several occasions. I recall the first time we talked after his eyes shut down. He said, “Bob, I may have lost my sight. But my vision has increased.” That optimism and faith are two of the traits I most admire about Dave. My hope for him and for council leaders is that he can continue to contribute to what God is doing in our 150 campuses throughout the world.

A Model of Faith, Decency and Vision
by Luther Luedtke, President of California Lutheran University

I have mixed feelings about your retirement as president of Westmont — admiration for the strength and steadiness of your hand during an unusually durable tenure; enormous respect for what you and Westmont have accomplished together; gratitude for the model of faith, decency, and vision that you have presented for all your presidential colleagues; joy for the fulfillment you must feel; and sadness that I cannot look forward, at least not so frequently, to your good counsel and company on the phone and at professional meetings.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s remark that an institution is “the lengthened shadow of a man” certainly has applied to Westmont and its president. I know that you have served not for your own gratification, although you have had this abundantly, but for the glory of God and the fullest personal development of each of your students. Westmont parents have often given me copies of your letters as evidence of your simple eloquence, your compassion, and your discerning leadership. Your sense of vocation and the stewardship of your talents are truly exemplary.

A Tribute to David Winter
by Philip W. Eaton, President of Seattle Pacific University

I met Dave Winter some 30 years ago. I was a young faculty member at Whitworth College, and Dr. Winter was a new dean of the faculty, one of my first deans. The first time I met him, he told me he had read something I had written. He said it was “terrific, outstanding, that he couldn’t have written such a piece himself, that this is just what the college needed.” I was astounded. I was encouraged. In so many ways my life has been shaped by that encounter and the long friendship I have had with David Winter.

I know there are thousands of graduates, faculty, staff, and trustees at Westmont College who have heard over the years just the kinds of words Dave shared with me 30 years ago. There are so many people around the country who have been touched by Dave’s encouragement. He is first of all an enabler. He genuinely believes in people. He calls us all to high standards, but he tells us we can do it.

Dave Winter has shaped Westmont College profoundly. In my opinion Westmont believes in itself in part because of Dave Winter’s unflagging belief in its people. He is passionate about ideas, no question about it. He is so clear and articulate about the purpose of Westmont and about Christian higher education. I believe he is one of the great voices of our time for what we are all about. But most of all he is an enabler. This powerful combination of strong ideas and deep belief in others — this is Dave Winter’s story, and my story is very different because I have been blessed to share in his.

Several weeks ago Dave talked to a group of presidents of the Christian College Consortium. What a privilege it was to hear Dave and Helene reflect back on their long career at Westmont. And what a story of gracefulness, poise, commitment, and classiness this couple represents. Dave told this group of presidents that we can choose to get up each morning and think on the fruits of the Spirit. Think about “love, joy, peace,” he said, “patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control.” This is a man, my dear friend, who suddenly lost his eyesight three years ago, a man who could think bitterness and darkness, a man who could count his losses each morning, and here he was telling me and the rest of these presidents to get up in the morning and think about joy, peace, patience, and kindness.

What a guy. What a story. I am deeply grateful that Dave Winter believed in me. He believes in Westmont College. He believes in Christian higher education. And he believes that we can get up each morning and think about “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control,” that our lives are a matter of choosing. Talk about the fruits of the Spirit — Dave Winter is a man who has so genuinely and authentically shared those fruits with so many others. What a guy. What a story.

Quiet Confidence
by James L. Doti, President, Chapman University

What an incredible run! You have served Westmont College as a great leader for more than twenty-five years. Your spirited leadership over those years has also had a significant impact on higher education.

While I am no longer a freshman president, I remember those early days well. I didn’t know whether I would be up to the job. At such times, one looks to role models. You were one of those role models for me, and I suspect you served in that capacity for many other presidents as well.

In observing you at various meetings, especially those at WASC and ICSC, it was obvious that you listened very carefully before you spoke. Perhaps this came from a profound respect you have for others. You always did your homework and were well prepared to discuss issues and find ways for others to discover common ground. You exuded a quiet confidence that garnered respect and admiration.

During the last few years you confronted a personal challenge in a way that was an inspiration to others. I can’t help but think that your students at Westmont are better prepared to cope with such challenges in the future after observing and being inspired by the way you met your recent challenge with dignity, courage and grace.

I, and many others, have learned a great deal from you, so your legacy will have an impact far beyond what you may consider possible.

A Steely Core of Determination, Strength and Faith
by Nancy Bekavac, President, Scripps College

Over the years, you have become one of the friendly faces I look for when college presidents gather in substantial numbers.

In addition to seeing you regularly at ICSC meetings all over Southern California, I’ve encountered you, and your wife, at meetings of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, annual meetings of the American Council on Education, and of course, at meetings of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. Each and every one of those encounters was especially warm, marked by the special decency and caring that you put into every relationship. In addition to such informal times, there have also been working meetings. Two especially stand out. In connection with ICSC, you have become a consolidating factor among a very diverse group of presidents. As our leader at ICSC, you have spoken for us and to us in a most helpful way. The second example is your leadership opposing national accreditation.

These pleasant feelings and encounters, however, have given way to a much more substantial level of respect for you in the last few years. Like all of us in higher education, I know that those who teach most powerfully do so from a combination of intellectual preparation and personal dedication. Your reaction to the sudden loss of vision has been instructive to us all, and I fear each of us believes we would fall far short of your standard of courage and grace. The way in which you have carried on has set a remarkable example for all of us who know you. It reminds all of us that behind the kind words and extraordinary successes of your presidency lies a much more steely core of determination, strength and faith. It has been inspiring to work with you during this time. I believe I have learned something of enormous value from your example over these last few years.

The Highest Level of Leadership Ability
by Steve Morgan, President, University of La Verne

You have consistently been an important mentor for many of us and are one of the standard setters after which we have modeled our own endeavors. You are well-known for your competence, character, commitment and enthusiasm.

David, you have provided the vision that has taken Westmont to consistently higher levels, while at the same time, encouraging and enabling your colleagues at other institutions to do the same. You have set the example on your own campus while contributing to others’ success through your leadership of organizations such as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, and the Independent Colleges of Southern California. When there was work to be done, you have answered the call with enthusiasm and the highest level of leadership ability.

David, you have left your mark on Westmont College, on higher education and particularly on those of us who have had the privilege of working with you. You have set the highest of standards and we are grateful.

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