News Alert

For more information about Westmont's response to the fire, see our Q & A.

Read President Beebe's Letter about finals.


December 13, 9 a.m. update:

  • To answer any questions you may have about the Thomas Fire and how we're completing the fall semester, President Gayle D. Beebe will hold a forum for students and parents by phone Wednesday, December 13, at 11 a.m. PST. He'll provide an update about the fire and respond to questions sent by email.
  • To join the forum, call 1-877-668-4493 and use the access code 803 341 071#. You can also listen to the call online.
  • Student Life has sent a detailed email to students about retrieving belongings from their rooms once the mandatory evacuation is lifted as well as procedures for those unable to return to campus. It also addresses textbook buy-back and mail.
  • At this time, the fire is not directly threatening campus, which is serving as a staging site for Cal Fire and strike teams protecting Montecito and Santa Barbara.
  • We deeply appreciate the gracious and understanding response we’ve received from so many people as we’ve sought to protect the health and safety of our community and preserve our campus.

Follow Westmont’s response to the Thomas Fire on social media

       

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December 12, 6 p.m. update:

  • To answer any questions you may have about the Thomas Fire and how we're completing the fall semester, President Gayle D. Beebe will hold a forum for students and parents by phone Wednesday, December 13, at 11 a.m. PST. He'll provide an update about the fire and respond to questions sent by email.
  • To join the forum, call 1-877-668-4493 and use the access code 803 341 071#. You can also listen to the call online.
  • At this time, the fire is not directly threatening campus, which is serving as a staging site for Cal Fire and strike teams protecting Montecito and Santa Barbara.
  • We deeply appreciate the gracious and understanding response we’ve received from parents as we’ve sought to protect the health and safety of our community and preserve our campus.

December 11, 5 p.m. update:

  • Dozens of firetrucks and 500 firefighters are staged at Westmont to battle the Thomas Fire, protecting Montecito and Santa Barbara from the fifth-largest wildfire in state history. Westmont has served as headquarters for fire officials during other fires in the past. We’re grateful we can provide this resource to our local community.
  • Westmont remains under mandatory evacuation, and the campus is closed.
  • The public viewing at the Westmont Observatory scheduled for Friday, December 15, has been canceled. The next public viewing will occur on the third Friday in January.
  • We will post another update tomorrow at 9 a.m.
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A reddish sun looms over students as they head off campus ahead of the evacuation notice

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Students checked out with their resident directors at the gym before being picked up by family and friends

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The Westmont shuttle takes students to an area church outside of the evacuation notice


December 11, 9 a.m. update:

Westmont remains under mandatory evacuation for the Thomas Fire, and the campus is closed with all services discontinued. Students have left for the semester, and professors are working directly with students to hold finals off campus. Fire officials have confirmed that the fire is not close to Westmont at this time despite what appears on some fire maps.

Q & A Update About Access to Campus

Westmont remains under mandatory evacuation for the Thomas Fire, and the campus is closed with all services discontinued. All faculty, staff and students have left. Students who need housing this week can contact Thomas Staffileno at tstaffileno@westmont.edu. Faculty and staff members have offered to host students, and plenty of rooms remain.

  • Do students have access to their rooms to gather belongings?
    As long as the campus remains under mandatory evacuation, it will be closed and students may not return. Once the order is lifted, students may gather their belongings by noon, December 16.
  • Can students authorize a parent and/or a designated friend to gather their belongings?
    Students can email their resident director to authorize people to enter their rooms once the mandatory evacuation order is lifted.
  • Do students need to check out if they haven’t done so?
    If students are moving out of their fall rooms, they need to check out by noon on Saturday, December 16. If they can’t return to campus by that time or the campus remains closed, they should contact their resident director.
  • What about finals?
    Each professor has decided how to hold finals and is working directly with students to make the appropriate arrangements. Students should direct any questions to their professors.
  • What is happening with scheduled athletic games on campus?
    The women’s basketball game is still scheduled for December 20. We’ll post an update if that changes.
  • Will the Westmont gym be open to neighbors who need to evacuate?
    The campus is closed, and no one is sheltering in the gym.

December 10, 5 p.m. update:

  • Westmont is now under mandatory evacuation for the Thomas Fire, and the campus is closed with all services discontinued. Anyone still on campus should leave immediately.

December 10, 3 p.m. update:

  • The Thomas Fire voluntary evacuation zone now extends to Westmont, and we continue to watch the fire and to consult with fire and emergency authorities regularly. By this evening, all students will have alternative housing off campus. As long as Westmont is not under a mandatory evacuation order, the campus will remain open. Staff members should consult their email and their supervisor about coming to work tomorrow and throughout the week.
  • The dining commons will be closed today for dinner and will reopen tomorrow for lunch.
  • Textbook buy-back is scheduled for Monday, 10-2, at the Post Office building as long as Westmont is not under mandatory evacuation.
  • The Westmont Post Office will remain open as long as the campus is open.
  • Students may get belongings from their rooms until noon, December 16, as long as Westmont is not under mandatory evacuation.

December 10, 12:30 p.m. update:

Q&A Update

At present, Westmont is not in an evacuation zone. As long as we are not under mandatory evacuation, the campus remains open. By tonight, all students will have alternative housing. We’ve encouraged them to leave to make sure everyone is safe. Faculty and staff are offering to host students who need a place to go. Students who need housing can contact Thomas Staffileno at tstaffileno@westmont.edu.

  • Will students have access to their rooms to gather belongings?
    You are free to return to gather your belongings by noon, December 16.
  • Can students authorize a parent and/or a designated friend to gather their belongings?
    Students can email their resident director to authorize people to enter their rooms.
  • Do students need to check out if they haven’t done so?
    If students are moving out of their fall rooms, they need to check out by noon on Saturday, December 16. If they can’t return to campus by that time, they should contact their resident director.
  • Will the dining commons remain open?
    We recommend that no students stay in their rooms on campus. We’re providing housing this week with faculty and staff, and there is plenty of room available. As the fire situation can change, we believe it’s best for students to stay off campus.
  • What is happening with scheduled athletic games on campus?
    The women’s basketball game is still scheduled for December 20. We’ll post an update if that changes.
  • Note to residents near Westmont asking about shelter in the gym
    The campus has been evacuated, and Westmont is close to the fire evacuation zone. Please follow all fire evacuations issued by fire department officials.

December 10, 10:15 a.m. update:

  • Anticipating that Westmont may be under voluntary evacuation soon, we are encouraging all students to leave campus. Students should proceed to the gym, where we will provide transportation to various locations within Santa Barbara and to airports.

December 10, 7 a.m. update:

  • Montecito Evacuation Update Does Not Include Westmont at This Time
  • Official messaging has alerted Montecito residents that the voluntary evacuation zone includes parts of Montecito, with mandatory evacuation ordered to the east of Buena Vista and north of Highway 192, which is three miles toward Ventura from the campus. The college is actively monitoring official guidance and is prepared to mobilize our shelter and/or evacuation plan if that becomes advisable. The fire is still seven or more miles away and moving fairly slowly.

Dear Members of the Westmont Community,

Since the beginning of the Thomas Fire, we have been monitoring its developments closely and posting updates to Westmont’s website. Having experienced the ravages of the 2008 Tea Fire, we know first-hand how fast and how destructive wildfires can be. At no time has the fire itself been a threat to campus, according to the timely and daily updates we receive from the Santa Barbara and Montecito fire departments. It remains more than 10 air miles away, and fire officials anticipate it moving north and east away from Santa Barbara and, specifically, Montecito.

That said, the air quality on campus has been significantly compromised. Although it improved considerably yesterday, it has deteriorated further today with ash falling on campus on a consistent basis. Because we place such a high premium on the health and safety of all members of our community, we have released the students through the weekend and excused staff and faculty from campus who have needed to address fire-related preparations for their home. We also are striving to balance these health and safety concerns, which are our first priority, with maintaining the credibility and integrity of our academic program.

Throughout the weekend, we have been weighing our options. Some students have requested alternatives to the established finals schedule. Other students have expressed a desire to maintain the schedule as planned. Still others have reminded us of their need to stay eligible for sports or remain qualified for their scholarships and financial aid and need the semester to conclude as scheduled with as little disruption to the academic program as possible. While weighing each of these options and trying to balance a variety of competing commitments, we have reached the following conclusions.

After consulting with several faculty and meeting with Provost Sargent and the Faculty Council as well as hearing from students and parents, we have determined that we will not hold final exams on campus. We fully realize that this will create some complexities for faculty and students alike. Thus, we are asking that all faculty members make alternative plans for their final exams. For many of you, that will be a take-home exam. For some smaller classes, that could include a phone or Skype conversation to replace a presentation. For still others, that will mean an alternative assignment. If appropriate to the course, faculty can allow students to take the grade they have earned prior to the final. In short, we are placing the prerogative and responsibility in the hands of faculty who know what is best for their courses and most fair for their students.

In addition, classes originally postponed from Friday to Monday are now cancelled.

We have asked all faculty to notify their students by Monday at noon what the alternative plan for their final exam will be, including when they will distribute their final exam or final assignment. Second, faculty will also indicate the official due date. Under no circumstances will the due date extend beyond December 19 at noon. Our faculty do an incredible job of balancing individual needs with academic integrity, and we know they will continue this commitment now.

Obviously, our policy of granting exceptions and accommodations to students with medical conditions or family emergencies continues. Some students have been affected negatively and directly by the fire, including one student whose home was destroyed. Each situation is unique. Students who believe they have a compelling situation or circumstance that requires special accommodation beyond what is being outlined here need to contact their professors immediately to make alternative arrangements for completing the course. Students should contact their faculty instructor, their faculty advisor or the Provost’s Office if they have questions about incompletes, withdrawals, or other issues that could affect their academic standing.

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates four times daily (9:00 a.m., 12 noon, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m.). About 400 students remain on campus, and others will need to return to campus after the weekend. We will post additional details as we meet to resolve these unique challenges. Unless otherwise indicated, all administrative and student services on campus will continue as planned. We encourage you to consult the home page of our website for updates and any new information. Let’s continue to pray for all those affected and displaced by the California fires.

Blessings,

Gayle D. Beebe
President


December 9, 4 p.m. update:

  • President Gayle D. Beebe will post a letter to the Westmont community early this evening.
  • There is no immediate threat to the community of Montecito at this time according to the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management Thomas Fire update at 10 a.m. today.
  • We will post the next update at 6 p.m.

December 9, 12 p.m. update:

  • President Gayle D. Beebe will post a letter to the Westmont community late this afternoon.
  • There is no immediate threat to the community of Montecito at this time according to the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management Thomas Fire update at 10 a.m. today.
  • We will post the next update at 4 p.m.

December 9, 9 a.m. update:

  • The Thomas Fire continues to pose no threat to Westmont at this time.
  • For more information about Westmont's response to the fire, see our Q & A.
  • We'll post another update at noon.

December 8, 6 p.m. update:

  • Fire officials do not presently foresee significant changes to the Thomas Fire overnight.
  • We’ll post our next update Saturday at 9 a.m.

December 8, 3 p.m. update:

  • Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management Thomas Fire update this afternoon states, “There is no immediate threat to the community of Montecito at this time.”
  • The dance concert scheduled for today and tomorrow has been canceled and tentatively rescheduled for a one-time performance Tuesday, December 12, at 7 p.m. in Porter Theatre. Admission is free. People who purchased tickets to the canceled performances may obtain refunds by emailing bwhitcomb@westmont.edu.
  • The Westmont Ahh-Men Ahh-Cappella Christmas concert set for tonight is canceled.
  • The Westmont College Store will be closed Saturday.
  • We’ll post again at 6 p.m.

December 8, 12 p.m. update:

Westmont has installed HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air scrubbers in the library and the Dining Commons to ensure student’s safety and comfort as they prepare for finals. The gym, another smoke-free site, is open all day until 11 p.m. this evening for students who want to play or hang out.

If anyone on campus needs an N95 mask, they’re available in the library, the Dining Commons and the Health Center. We’ve ordered additional masks, which should arrive in the next few days. If you already have a mask, please continue to use it and replace it only when you find it difficult to breathe; you can use it for days.

The post office and the Westmont College Store close at 3 p.m. today.

Regular hours will continue today in the Dining Commons and resume on Monday, December 11. Limited hours will apply December 9 and 10.

Find updated information about the Thomas Fire at these two sites:

If you’re interested, you may read more on our website about Westmont’s emergency plans.

We’ll post another update at 3 p.m.


December 8, 9 a.m. update:

  • Westmont continues to monitor the Thomas Fire, which poses no threat to the campus at this time. Air quality levels have improved since yesterday, but remain unhealthy, so we encourage all students, faculty and staff on campus to use masks when outdoors and to limit activity outside.
  • Although classes are canceled, the campus is open and services are available for the students still here.
  • Ritchie's Place is open today through 3 p.m.
  • Professors who decide to hold their classes scheduled for today on Monday will notify students directly by noon today.
  • Westmont has installed a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) air scrubber at the library to ensure student's safety and comfort.
  • We will post another update at noon.

December 7, 6 p.m. update:

  • In their latest Thomas Fire update this afternoon, the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management stated, “There is no immediate threat to the community of Montecito at this time.”
  • Student Life staff have opened Murchison Gym at least until 11 p.m. tonight to provide a smoke-free environment where students can play and hang out with friends.
  • Unless the situation changes, we will post the next Westmont update at 9 a.m. Friday, December 8.

December 7, 3 p.m. update:

Classes canceled Friday, Dec. 8. Campus is open. Finals begin Tuesday, Dec. 12.

  • Based on reports we’re receiving about the status of the Thomas Fire, Westmont plans to proceed with final exams next week as scheduled, beginning Tuesday, December 12. We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and will announce any changes should they be necessary. If we make any changes to the finals schedule, the Provost's Office will work with faculty to make the necessary arrangements for students to complete their finals appropriately.
  • Professors who decide to hold their Friday, December 8, classes (which have been canceled) on Monday, December 11, will notify students directly no later than noon on Friday.
  • The Westmont Shuttle will continue operating according to their normal schedule.
  • The men’s basketball game scheduled for Saturday night in the gym has been canceled.
  • Westmont has ordered more N95 masks and will let the community know when they arrive. There are still masks available at the Health Center.
  • SCE has notified us of the possibility of power outages during the next few days, which may also lead to disruptions in cell phone service, so be prepared with flashlights. If cell service seems spotty, communicate primarily by text.

December 7, 12 p.m. update:

  • Although classes are canceled due to poor air quality, essential services for students remain open. The Thomas Fire does not threaten Westmont.
  • The Westmont Health Center will be open today with Dr. Hernandez until 6 p.m., closed for lunch from 12:30-1 p.m. The Health Center will be open Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The Dining Commons will keep regular dining hours through this week, however, Ritchie's may experience sporadic closures due to staffing issues. During Finals Week, dining hours will remain the same with the addition of late night breakfast in the DC on Tuesday, from 10-11 p.m.
  • The Mail Center and College Store are closing at 3 p.m. today. Mail deliveries will go out as usual today.
  • The Westmont Library will hold regular hours unless there are unexpected staffing changes. The library will be open today until 1 a.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 1 a.m.
  • The Fall Dance Concert is canceled for Friday night.


December 7, 10 a.m. update:

  • Westmont is canceling classes beginning at 10 a.m. today and continuing through Friday due to poor air quality in Santa Barbara.
  • We expect final exams to take place as scheduled next week beginning Tuesday. Professors may decide to reschedule their Friday classes for Monday. If so, they will directly notify the students in their classes.
  • The campus will remain open, and staff will continue to work and services will remain available to students. Faculty and staff whose homes are threatened by the fire and in an evacuation zone may leave to pack and be with their family after they notify their supervisors. Staff members with questions can contact Human Resources.

December 6, 4 p.m. update:

  • Westmont continues to monitor the Thomas Fire and local air quality and will remain open and hold classes. Both UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College are also open. The fire does not threaten Westmont or Santa Barbara.

December 6, 3 p.m. update:

  • Westmont is making particulate masks available, which help with particles in the air (though not with smoke), while the air quality remains unfavorable for people with breathing difficulty. Students, faculty and staff may pick them up at various locations on campus. We've also canceled outdoor events and encouraged students to limit their outdoor activity.

December 6, 12 p.m. update:

  • The safety of our students, faculty and staff remains our priority, and we are closely monitoring the Thomas Fire and the air quality in our area. The fire poses no threat to Westmont.

December 6, 8 a.m. update:

  • Westmont remains safe as we continue to follow reports of the Thomas Fire. Join us in praying for calm conditions so the firefighters can contain the blaze and for all those who have evacuated and lost their homes.

December 5, 5 p.m. update:

  • We continue to monitor the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, which does not endanger Westmont. We’re grateful for the firefighters and continue to pray for those in the fire’s path. Unless the situation changes, our next update will appear at 8 a.m. Wednesday, December 6.

December 5, 2 p.m. update:

  • The Thomas Fire, burning in Ventura County, presents no threat to Westmont. Santa Barbara County officials have issued an Air Quality Warning due to smoke and ash, which may continue for several days.

December 5:

  • The Thomas Fire in Ventura County is causing power outages and disrupting our website and technology. The campus and all our students are safe and in no danger from the fire. Classes are in session. We will post updates if the situation changes. Join us in praying for all those affected by the fire, including some from our own community.
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Westmont News

Thomas Fire Letter

Dear Members of the Westmont Community, Since the beginning of the Thomas Fire, we have been monitoring its developments closely and posting updates to Westmont’s website.

Read More

Thomas Fire Q&A

Does the Thomas Fire threaten Westmont? What is the status of classes? Is the campus open?

Read More

Westmont Cancels Classes Due to Thomas Fire

President Gayle D. Beebe announced at an open forum on Dec. 7 that Westmont has canceled classes through Friday due to poor air quality in Santa Barbara stemming from the Thomas Fire in Ventura County.

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