The Founding of Westmont: In 1945, Montecito Became Home to the Christian College

Westmont College is largely the result of one woman’s vision. In August 1937, Ruth Kerr awoke from a sound sleep. God had spoken to this deeply religious woman and had told her the time was right to open a Bible school. This was the beginning of Westmont College. Ruth Kerr became president of the Kerr Glass Manufacturing Company (anyone who does canning or preserving should recognize the name) in 1930, five years after her husband’s death. Using funds from her successful company, she opened the Bible Missionary Institute in Los Angeles in 1937 with 72 students and 16 staff. Two years later, the school added some liberal arts courses and changed its name to Western Bible College. The metamorphosis continued the following year under the leadership of Dr. Wallace L. Emerson. The school moved to larger facilities in Los Angeles, became a four-year liberal arts college built upon Christian principles, and changed its name one last time to Westmont College. more

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