Seeking a New Urban Experience

After 22 years as a director of Westmont’s San Francisco Urban program, Steve Schultz is stepping down to seek new challenges.

Steve Schultz

A lot has changed for the San Francisco Urban Semester since 29-year-old Steve Schultz became director in 1982. Located far from Santa Barbara, the experiential education program was not well known on campus. The staff included Steve and one other instructor, and students lived and studied in a less-than-ideal building on Jackson Street.

Without changing the focus on student internships in the city, Steve has worked to integrate the program into the Westmont curriculum and to make it a liberal arts experience. He has also raised its visibility and reputation.

“Today students experience much greater continuity between their studies in Santa Barbara and their experiences in San Francisco,” Steve says. “The learning they do here makes possible the learning they do on campus, and vice versa.”

The expanded staff (three professors, a resident director and an administrative assistant) has also strengthened the program. But the biggest change came with the 2002 purchase of a new facility, an historic Victorian mansion.

“The house on Lyon Street has enhanced the program in so many ways,” Steve says. “Our new neighborhood in the center of the city has diversity in race, economics and age. Students appreciate the good transit connections and the number of restaurants nearby. The neighborhood association meets regularly in our parlor, so students learn first-hand about the issues that matter to the community. And by taking good care of such an historic house, we help preserve the heritage of the city.”

With everything going well for the program, Steve has chosen to resign his position. “Completing the significant move to the new facility felt like a culmination,” he says. “This is a good time to move on to something new — and a good time for new leadership for the program.”

“I have a unique opportunity to look more broadly at my gifts and what I really love to do,” he adds. “I expect to stay in higher education, but am also open to the possibility of working with a ministry or non-profit doing innovative things to create a better society.”

One aspect of the program didn’t change during Steve’s tenure. “We continue to engage students in a wider world than they have ever experienced,” he says. “They confront important issues and think seriously about what it means to be a Christian and a follower of Jesus.”

The Urban Program makes students responsible for their learning. “During their internships, students often assume adult work responsibilities for the first time in their lives. Their employers count on them to do things that affect the lives of others. For example, students may help a public defender prepare a case for a client. They may accompany a chaplain who’s seeing a patient diagnosed with a terminal illness. They may evaluate a company for an IPO for an investment banking firm. This can be intimidating for students, but it’s exciting for them to learn what they are capable of doing.”

Steve came to Westmont from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, where he worked for another urban program. He had graduated from St. Olaf and earned a master’s of divinity degree at Pacific Lutheran Seminary in Berkeley, Calif., before taking the job.

“I’ve always been interested in the connection between ethics, religious faith, and social policy,” he says. “Where do citizenship and discipleship intersect? Seeing students engage these issues and get involved in the community over the years has been such a joy for me.”

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