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Coordinates: 34°26′59″N 119°39′34″W / 34.4497888°N 119.6593305°W / 34.4497888; -119.6593305

Westmont College
College Logo
Motto Christus Primatum Tenens
(Christ Holding Preeminence)
Established October 29, 1937
Type Private, Christian, liberal arts college
Endowment $77.5 million (June 30, 2008)
President Gayle Beebe
Provost Richard Pointer
Faculty 91
Staff 235
Undergraduates 1,332
Location Santa Barbara, CA, USACaliforniaUnited States
Campus Suburban (111 acres)
Colors Maroon & White
Nickname The Warriors
Mascot Warrior
Affiliations Western Association of Schools and Colleges; California State Board of Education; NAIA; Christian College Consortium

Westmont College, founded in 1937, is an interdenominational Christian liberal arts college in Santa Barbara, California.[1]



Ruth Kerr, owner of the Kerr Mason Jar Company, established the school as the Bible Missionary Institute (1937), later renamed the Western Bible College (1939). During these early years, Ruth and the other founders decided that a liberal arts curriculum was the best direction for the school. In 1940 Dr. Wallace Emerson, the first president, renamed the school Westmont College, named for the fact the school was located at WEST Moreland and VerMONT in Los Angeles, envisioning a Christian liberal arts college that would take its place among the best in the nation.

By 1944, Westmont College had outgrown its facilities in downtown Los Angeles. After a failed attempt to move the campus to Altadena in early 1945 the desperate search for a new campus led Mrs. Kerr and the trustees to the former Dwight Murphy estate in Montecito with its 125 acres (0.51 km2). Westmont purchased this property and moved to the Santa Barbara area in the Fall of 1945.

Set in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains, Westmont’s wooded and scenic acres provide an environment for a residential college. The campus includes buildings and land from two former estates and the historic Deane School for Boys. The grounds still feature the pathways, stone bridges, and garden atmosphere typical of Montecito, a suburb of Santa Barbara.

While Westmont has sought to preserve and use the original structures, it has also built new facilities, including Voskuyl Library, the restored Westmont Art Center, the A. Nelson Science Building, the Murchison Gymnasium Complex, and the Ruth Kerr Memorial Student Center. In 2008 Westmont broke ground for the construction of the Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics and the Adams Center for the Visual Arts.

In 2006, Westmont received a gift of $75 million from an anonymous donor, the second largest gift ever to a national liberal arts college at the time.[2][3] In September 2009 Westmont was informed that the donor withdrew the pledged $75 million gift which caused the college to put off construction of two new buildings.[4]

In 2008 Westmont and the surrounding Montecito community was devastated by the Tea Fire that burned numerous structures on the campus, including dormitories and faculty housing. Luckily there was no loss of life on the steep and wooded campus which has numerous oaks and eucalyptus trees and semi-arid vegetation.

Westmont emphasizes the intellectual, social, and spiritual growth of students.[5] With approximately 1300 undergraduate students, Westmont attempts to provide a rigorous academic program along with a personalized, residential Christian undergraduate experience.[6][7]


Westmont is ranked #92 in the US News & World Report "America's Best Colleges 2010" list of liberal arts colleges.[8][9] The Templeton Foundation has recognized Westmont as one of the nation’s top 100 colleges committed to character development.[10]

University rankings (overall)

Forbes[11] 257
USNWR Liberal Arts[12] 111
WM Liberal Arts[13] 144

Westmont offers 26 majors, including: alternative major, art, biology, chemistry, communication studies, computer science, economics and business, education program, engineering physics, English, history, European studies, kinesiology, liberal studies, mathematics, modern languages (English, French, German, and Spanish), music, philosophy, physical education, physics, political science, psychology, religious studies, social science, sociology / anthropology, and theatre arts.[14]

The student/faculty ratio is 13 to 1; the percentage of faculty with doctorates is 79 percent and those who are without terminal degrees are coaches who teach physical education courses.[15] The average class size is 18 students.[16] The students come from 25 states, 11 countries, and 33 Christian denominations. The graduation rate in 4 years is 87 percent.

The majors are not impacted, therefore students are able to change majors easily. Students aren't required to declare their major until the end of their sophomore year so as to graduate on time.

The weekly student newspaper is the Horizon, which can also be found online at


Westmont is in the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC), a part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The college competes in twelve intercollegiate sports.


Intercollegiate athletic teams

  • Men's Baseball
  • Men's Basketball
  • Women's Basketball
  • Men's Cross Country
  • Women's Cross Country
  • Mens Soccer - The Men's soccer team won the NAIA national championship in 1972.[17]
  • Women's soccer - The Women's team has won the NAIA national championships in 1985, 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2003.[18]
  • Men's Tennis
  • Women's Tennis -The women's tennis team won the NAIA national championship in 1982.[19]
  • Men's Track and Field
  • Women's Track and Field
  • Women's Volleyball

Club athletic teams

  • Equestrian Polo - Runner up NCAA polo in 2007 to Texas A&M (12-8).
  • Rugby Football
  • Ultimate frisbee


Westmont College is located a few miles off of U.S. 101 just to the east of Santa Barbara. The city of Santa Barbara is on the central Californian coast and is 100 miles north of Los Angeles and 330 miles south of San Francisco.

The campus itself resides in the hills of Montecito and features 110 acres (0.45 km2) of hills, gardens, and trees. A small creek runs though the campus. It is often dry during summer and autumn months and typically full during the rainy spring months. It has even flooded campus buildings in El Nino years.

The campus has five on-campus dorms. The two freshman dorms are Page and Clark which are located at the upper corners of campus. Armington is at the lowest point on campus, and is usually the sophomore dorm. Emerson (formerly known as New Dorm and Everest), is at the top of campus and has ocean views in many of its rooms. Van Kampen, the most popular dorm for upper-classmen, is located in the center of the campus and was recently renovated and modernized in the summer of 2006. Some upper classmen students live in the Ocean View Apartments, a college-owned apartment building on the east side of Santa Barbara.

The campus was heavily damaged during the Tea Fire in the Montecito hills, though no injuries were reported on the campus.[20] Westmont is located a high fire area with limited access via narrow winding roads. As a condition of approval of their Master Plan Westmont agreed to the controversial “shelter in place” also called “stay and defend” procedure in case of a wildfire. [21] [22] During the fire, students who were on campus were evacuated to the Gymnasium, which was considered fire proof. The Physics Lab, Psychology Building, Math Building, and many of the faculty homes were destroyed. Two of the residence halls in Clark residence hall were severely damaged, along with the RD cottage.[23] With the recovery phase initiated over the weekend, faculty and staff were allowed back on campus November 17, but the school was scheduled to remain closed to students until December 1.[24]

Photographs of key buildings on campus can be found on the school's website.

Off-campus programs

Off-campus programs are an important part of the Westmont experience with over 60 percent of students participating in a program at some point in their studies. Westmont offers a number of off-campus programs. These programs are run with a faculty member and include the Europe semester, England Semester, Westmont in Mexico, and the San Francisco Urban program. Some students choose to participate in semester exchanges at one of the colleges in the Christian College Consortium, such as Gordon College, Houghton College, Seattle Pacific University, and Wheaton College (IL). Additionally, many students participate in other qualifying programs, including semesters in New Zealand, Belize, Washington DC, Chile, Italy, France, and Lithuania. Students receive transferable credit while they live and study abroad in these different programs. Some students work in internships while they are off campus, and many choose Washington DC or the San Francisco Urban program for this purpose.

School traditions

Spring Sing

Westmont hosts a popular annual student event entitled Spring Sing, which in past years has been held at the Santa Barbara County Bowl or UC Santa Barbara auditorium. This event is a competition between the dorms with eight minute musical comedy skits. The dorms are further divided by gender into male and female houses (with the exception of the Emerson dorm).

The skits incorporate an average of four or five clips of popular songs with altered original lyrics and special choreography. The lyrics are usually changed to reflect a humorous progression of the skit's main story. The dorm that wins has bragging rights for the next year.

Potter's Clay

Another very popular program is Potter's Clay. Many students give up their spring break to travel to Ensenada, Mexico for this ministry program. Students interact with the local population and churches to help with construction, Vacation Bible School, and medical work.

Montecito Tea Fire of 2008

On November 13, 2008 the campus was heavily damaged in the Montecito Tea Fire, which started in the hills near Montecito. No injuries were reported on the campus.[25] The Physics Lab, Psychology Building, Math Building, and many of the faculty homes were destroyed. The Clark residence hall was severely damaged.[26] Clark units which were severely damaged include F, M, and S. A corner of the roof on G suffered minor damage. The Quonset Huts were also destroyed. Much of the campus's foliage and landscaping was burned.

Flames were spotted above upper campus around 5:30 pm on November 13. Students were led to Murchison Gymnasium where they remained until the situation outside was safe. Doors and openings were sealed with masking tape to prevent smoke entry and a ventilation system was activated. The American Red Cross provided blankets and pillows to the hundreds of Westmont students, neighbors, and Preview/Visiting students. In the early morning after the immediate danger had passed, students were allowed to access their cars in certain parking lots and leave the campus. Others remained in the gym until they found a ride off campus. Friends, family, local churches, and other sources provided temporary housing to refugees.[27]

Classes resumed December 1 with the semester ending, as originally planned, on December 19, 2008.[28]

On November 18, 2008, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff issued a statement that a task force had determined that ten students were responsible for the start of the Montecito Tea Fire as they had started a bonfire, which they believed they had extinguished, but the fire had reignited.[29] On November 19, 2008, Westmont President Gayle Beebe released a press statement that no Westmont College students were involved with the start of the fire. [30] On November 20, Santa Barbara City College President, Dr. Andreea M. Serban, released a press statement acknowledging that nine of the ten students involved with the start of the fire were from Santa Barbara City College.[31] When the names where finally released it was revealed one of the 10, Joshua Decker-Trinidad, had attended Westmont until June 2008 having moved from Florida to attend Westmont College in 2007. [32] Eventually, two students were sentenced to probation and community service in March 2009; seven other students were sentenced to probation, community service, and fines in June 2009; and one student in June 2009 decided to serve 61 days in the Santa Barbara county jail to avoid probation.[33]

Pictures of the fire damage can be found at the following link:[34]

Notable Alumni

  • Megan (Shrader) Alexander - Correspondent for the national television news show Inside Edition.[35]
  • Priya David - CBS News correspondent.[36]
  • Dean Hirsh - Former CEO of World Vision International humanitarian relief organization.[37][38]
  • Ron Shelton - US film director of several films, including Bull Durham and White Men Can't Jump
  • Mike Yankoski - Speaker and author of Under the Overpass [40]
  • Danae Yankoski - Author of Things I've Learned Lately [41] and co-author of Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God [42]
  • Mark Zoradi - President of Walt Disney Motion Pictures[43]

Notable Faculty; Current

  • Ronald Enroth - Westmont Sociology Professor and expert on cults.
  • Robert H. Gundry - Westmont College Scholar-in-Residence, author of several Bible reference books, commentaries, and articles, including The Survey of the New Testament (fourth edition).[44]

Notable Faculty; Former

  • Chet Kammerer - Miami Heat Vice President of Player Personnel, former Westmont College basketball coach.[46]
  • Shirley Mullen - Former Westmont history professor and provost, President of Houghton College in New York state.[48]
  • Dwight H. Small - Deceased Westmont sociology professor and noted Christian author of 14 books, including After You've Said I Do and Design for Christian Marriage[51]


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  11. ^ "America's Best Colleges". Forbes. 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  12. ^ "Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings". America's Best Colleges 2009. U.S. News & World Report. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  13. ^ "The Washington Monthly Liberal Arts Rankings". The Washington Monthly. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
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  20. ^ "Fire destroys 80 houses in Montecito". Los Angeles Times. 2008-11-14.,0,2370726.story. 
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  23. ^ "Tea Fire update from Westmont College". Westmont College. 2008-11-14. 
  24. ^ Lerner, Danielle (November 17, 2008). "School still out at Westmont College due to Tea Fire". Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  25. ^ Fire destroys 80 houses in Montecito Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on November 14, 2008.
  26. ^ [1] Westmont College. Retrieved on November 14, 2008.
  27. ^ Brianna Merrill (Westmont student, eyewitness account)
  28. ^ [2] Westmont College.
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  30. ^,0,6045337.story
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External links


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