This past week I kept busy and active. Several appointments gave rise to great reflection on emerging developments at the college as well as one celebrity sighting. A weekend barbecue with the Young Alumni Association provided an opportunity to visit with this great group of individuals. And early mornings gave me time for some interesting reading.
For the past year, we have been developing the Institute for Global Learning and Leadership. This five-pronged initiative combines:
- Working with Westmont juniors and seniors;
- Launching a Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation;
- Expanding the role and influence of the Center for Social Neuroscience;
- Consolidating the oversight while expanding the work of our semester-abroad program (such as the new initiative, Westmont in Istanbul);
- Considering how to expand the college’s reach and influence by offering more opportunities for growth to the broader Santa Barbara community.
In the midst of all this activity—and while hosting a couple for dinner at a local restaurant—we had the privilege of seeing Kobe Bryant eating dinner with a family. He was relaxed, enjoying himself and striding confidently away from the table as he left for the evening. It looks good for a mid-season comeback. I know Shaq has his fingers crossed!
The Young Alumni Association launched their first Summer Barbecue Bash at Alameda Park in downtown Santa Barbara. What a great group and enjoyable time. Thanks to Sergio Hernandez ’07, who works as the current student and young alumni coordinator for the alumni office, for his effective leadership of this initial effort. It was encouraging to see so many young alums visiting with each other and remaining connected to the college through their friends.
This week, I’ve been reading Mindsight, a fantastic book by Dr. Daniel Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center there. Dr. Siegel founded the field of study known as interpersonal neurobiology. Our own Dr. Tom Fikes, who directs our Center for Social Neuroscience, first introduced me to this work. Dr. Siegel has discovered that our brain, our mind (as constituted by our nervous system and five senses that receive and convey information to our brain) and our relationships constitute the “triangle of well-being.” He then demonstrates how interpersonal neurobiology forms the basis of our emotional and social intelligence. His finding that relationships play a powerful role in our sense of self, general well-being or despair, and capacity to gain insight and even mastery over our moods and emotions offers key insights into my work.
The groundbreaking idea in Dr. Siegel’s work is “mindsight,” our ability to gain a deeper sense of our own thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories, beliefs, attitudes, hopes, fears, dreams and fantasies. He wants us to develop a capacity for self-understanding so we can direct our thoughts and feelings rather than let them drive us. He elaborates on the importance of mindsight by helping us see how to cultivate it through practical steps. He then demonstrates how developing and practicing mindsight will change the physical structure of our brain and help us develop a capacity for resilience and well-being that leads to greater compassion and empathy.
Ultimately, Dr. Siegel wants us to see how “Mindsight” helps us create connections by playing a central role in integrating all the discrete particulars of our life into a meaningful whole. This profound book has broad implications for our emotional and social well-being as well as our effectiveness in loving others and exerting a positive influence on our society. If you get a chance to read Mindsight, I think Dr. Siegel’s profound message will strike you.
Finally, in the midst of my responsibilities, I had a chance to eat for the first time at Toma on Cabrillo Boulevard, just west of Sambo’s and Stearns Wharf. Although the atmosphere is noisy, the food is outstanding, and the people who joined us were great.
What I enjoyed most this week was the opportunity to visit with a number of people who take a great interest in the college. From Santa Barbara to Sacramento, I spent the latter half of the week with different individuals and couples who are all making a difference for Westmont. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you next week.
Blessings, Gayle D. Beebe