The Christmas break is always a good time to sneak away and release a little pressure, but I hope that the start of this semester has been fully inflating. Lots of exciting events coming in the next month. It's the stretch run for the men's and women's basketball teams, which together are 17-3 in their last 20 games. The Music and Theatre Departments collaborate on opera scenes (January 28 to February 1), and the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art opens the splendid new show of Rembrandt prints on February 12. When visiting the show on "Rembrandt and the Jews," be sure to venture downstairs in the Adams Center to see an accompanying exhibition of William Castellana's photographs of Hasidic Jews living in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The Gaede Institute's annual "Conversation" (February 26-28) explores the "Liberal Arts and the Social Good"—a vital theme during a time when many observers are quick to overlook the importance of interdisciplinary inquiry for democratic society, ethical discernment and economic vitality.
At a Faculty Forum I shared some of the data from the recent National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which compares educational practices at institutions across the nation. There was plenty of good news about Westmont. For instance, 96% of Westmont seniors have participated in what the NSSE scholars define as "high-impact practices." That is much stronger than the rate for California private institutions (73%) or the nation as a whole (62%). We also learned about some areas where we can improve. Along with Edee Schulze, I will be exploring some of this data—and materials from other studies—at the annual Provost's Forum for co-curricular staff on February 24 (see below).
Blessings for a vibrant and rewarding semester.