Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Friday, August 10, 2007

Community Post: President Gayle Beebe on Westmont Growth

Here's a community post from Westmont College President Gayle Beebe. I'm honored to have him here as a guest blogger and am happy to offer his perspective on my post from the other day. Thank you for offering your thoughts.

The Following was Written by Westmont College President Gayle Beebe

Hi, Sara, I'm new to Santa Barbara. It seems that my interview in the Pacific Coast Business Times led some people to assume my enthusiasm about fulfilling our approved campus master plan means the college will increase its enrollment beyond 1,200. It does not.

For the record, I will never ­- and the college will never ­- seek to increase the number of students on our Montecito campus. I knew the college was committed to the 1,200-student cap when I accepted the position, and I plan to honor
the college’s long-standing policy of not adding more students on campus. I am sure most everyone in town knew that Westmont never plans to grow its enrollment.

We are building new facilities to better serve our 1,200 students. As several writers on your blog have noted, we went through a very long and completely thorough public process to earn approval for the update to our approved campus master plan.

I'd love to give you a tour so you can see the many students living three to a room and the severe lack of classroom, lab and faculty office space.

At present, our average square feet per student on campus is just 312; the average for liberal arts colleges in America today is 549 (and top-ranked schools have 742). Even after we fulfill the campus master plan many years down the road, our average square feet per student will be just 624.

Best of all, despite the new buildings, nearly 80 percent of our campus will remain as open space. We are very proud of our scenic and wooded campus.

We recognize that it’s a privilege to be located in such a special community, and we honor the privilege every day.

Gayle Beebe
Westmont College



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see that Westmont's new president is web and blog aware. Thanks President Beebe for responding and giving us your point of view. Hard to imagine anyone at UCSB or City College blogging with such grace and understanding. Welcome to Santa Barbara - please know the huge majority of us respect Westmont and your very unique college students

8/10/2007 9:02 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

I would love to take Mr Beebe's comments for his word. My expericence over time however, after watching the "public process," leads me to believe that there should be given much more creed given to the detractors.

It appears as if the "Christain" and especially the "Evangelical" has a great chapter hidden away in an archive somewhere with instructions on how to manipulate and deceive the "process."

The Westmont scenario is very similiar to another "Christain" and "Evangelical Covennat" "The Samarkand Retirement Community." The Covenant used the power of a public relations firm and land-use attorneys to divide, seperate and conquer the surrounding immediate neighbors from their hood.

The result was a CUP (conditional use permit) that required the retirement community to "conformity in neighborhood setting." Yet what resulted was towering structures, removal of much of the "open space" for more towering structures and of course complete with underground parking structures shedding angelic commercial "campus" flourescent lights into the homes across Treasure Drive and Talant Rd.

After being beaten up during the process, the Samarkand Neighborhood Association dwindled and eventually died. The neighborhood attempted to resurrect itself. It survives today but only because the Samarkand Retirement Community , with its own seperate and seclusive membership was allowed to join. The exclusive Evangelical Community voted and true neighborhood candidates from the neigbhorhood were not elected to the neighborhood board.

So where's the press chamber controled press (Independent included?)

8/10/2007 11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogabarbara has come of age. The Westmont President's letter is of the kind that once would have only occurred in the opinion pages of the News-Press. Those are gone, however.

8/11/2007 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last thing we need is more educated Christian Soldiers out there vying for power positions from which they can deny women the right to make choices about there bodies, gays the right to be married, teachers ability to teach science, and artistic free expression.

The first thing Gayle Beebe should impose upon the student population is a distaste for great illusions, such as the existence of an omnipotent entity that counts the number of times you have sex and think imperfect thoughts and is likely going to roast you in spit for all eternity. HA!

8/11/2007 5:44 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

5:44 PM -- have some respect! I've never known Westmont to be evangelist and those who go there know what is there....

8/11/2007 7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How cool that Beebe would be here so short of a time and be on this blog in a very graceful manner.

I watched the long process at the county as a county staffer (not planning) - and Westmont was patient, willing to do what was asked and what was right - as the opponents attacked them of horrible things -
- Westmont did not respond in kind.

I must say I did not know much about Westmont and was inclined not to like them like some of the post - but over the past five years I found them to be as graceful and open as Beebe's note.

It is cool to have them in this community.

Mr. Beebe - thanks for posting here - welcome to Santa Barbara and don't get upset at the ugly post - some of these folks don't get enough sleep.

8/11/2007 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look at the Westmont website. An announcement right on the front page:

"President George W. Bush announced that Jedd Medefind, a 1997 Westmont graduate, will become special assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Prior to this, Medefind served as director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Labor."

Why should I show respect to an outfit bent on spurning out people who live to promote a ridiculous book written by ignorant people thousands of years ago? Fine, go ahead and be a Christian. Believe whatever non-sense you wish - but keep it out of MY schools and OUR government.

8/12/2007 8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very impressed with Beebe's remarks, and I hope he keeps his word. If he does I'll be a strong supporter.

Unfortunately, folks in positions like his have lots of incentive to get very nitpicky about exactly what was promised and what was not; also, they often feel that the 80% or whatever of the promises they've kept enable them to welch on the other 20%.

I hope Beebe does not do that. But I've seen the Chancellors of UCSB do precisely that, and all of them were good, honest folks at heart. No names... it is not personal, it is institutional... institutions and all their needs distort otherwise good people to do unpleasant and unethical things.

I think Eisenhower had a rule of never referring to a leader by their name when they did something unethical, because he assumed that they did it because of the pressures from their office, not their personal nature. So, it won't surprise me if in the future the President of Westmont has to due some harsh and unethical things for the survival of his or her organization.

8/12/2007 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree - Westmont is a benefit to the community and the new president looks to carry on a history of openness and frankness.

8/12/2007 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to the community President Beebe. I am taking you at your word that you wrote this and not an overpriced public relations hack. Westmont has generally been a benefit to the overall community, but unfortunately didn't always communicate well with its neighbors, or act with christian compassion toward them. I just hope you are sincere and that this isn't just more astro-turf . . .

8/12/2007 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As many of us watched the opposition to Westmont by a few very dedicated people, we could not understand what drove them as the college has always been a good neighbor. Now that I read some of these anti-Christian attacks on the college I fully understand that it had more to do with the Christian faith than Westmont's proposals.

And that is sad.

Our family and our neighbors love the college and the students who have been babysitters, mentors and amazing role models to our children.

No matter your belief it is clear that the Westmont student body is unique here and around the nation. If there were more young men and women like those at Westmont, the world would be a better place to live.

8/12/2007 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a neighbor I do not agree with the 3:11 post above. Westmont communicates quite well with us. The challenge for some is that they do not like them being here in our neighborhood and no matter how much or how often they communicate these people are not happy. And Westmont has been a model of compassion for the community and neighborhood. Our neighborhood, save a few college haters, know for a fact what a compassionate and fair neighbor this college has been in the face of horrible accusations and attacks in recent years. We walk on the campus, play tennis, swim in the pool, run on the track, use the library and enjoy the huge open space of the campus with natural grass and no astroturf.

8/12/2007 6:03 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

Question to the immediate neighbors;

What are the current impacts and impacts from the approved developement to your neighborhood?

To ANON 3:42

Why put the Westmont students on such a high pedistal?

Also, I have no reservations about anyone being cautious about those of "christain faith." Without citing too many examples I'd just simply state that the christains I know are seriously flawed.

The most prominent current flawed example would be our President and his reportedly "Christain" Republican party. Whether brought to power by popular vote or by fraud, this Christain president and his administration has our nation embarked on an extremely violent "crusade" in various parts of the world.

So ANON 3:42 stop being a matyr and tell us what it is that the Westmont mentors are doing that is so angelic besides babysitting?

8/12/2007 9:26 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

I went to a lecture by a Westmont professor (in a public hall, not at Westmont; not sure why) who had spent a lot of time on the ground in Israel and the Palestinian areas. It was extremely informative, and he didn't pull any punches about the oppression that the Palestinians suffer at the hands of the Israelis, or about the fictional nature of the history that the Israeli government and its supporters often present (many sincerely believe it, although they would know better if they read relatively honest Israeli historians like Benny Morris). Of course there were a number of rude, foaming Zionist hecklers and haters in the audience (that's not the sort of Jew *I* was taught to be), but the Westmont professor (it was several years ago and I don't remember his name) was unflappable, very politely fielding their comments as if they were sincere queries, and calmly referring them to maps, quotations from respected authorities, and his own personal experience. I'm rather negative about religion, but I must say that this fellow represented Westmont very well and left me with a "maybe they're not too bad" feeling. They are certainly a far cry from Liberty University (which, according to Wikipedia, asserts "there is now mounting evidence that man and dinosaurs did indeed live on earth at the same time" and "the chances are good" that there were dinosaurs on board Noah's Ark), with over 150 graduates in the Bush administration.

8/14/2007 1:59 PM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...


I would certainly not want to paint any group in a broad negative brush except for my observations. Many religions or what I would more accurtely describe as cults can contain many good followers with great causes. The goodness though seems to have something more to do with their upbringing rather than religious instruction that is why you get a few really good ones.

Again, I am very cautious given the manipulative behavior of most religions/cults and their leaders. Westmont did not hire an agressive pro growth developer to let this wooded acreage sit idle. I would suspect that the neighbors of Westmont will soon and once again be invited to "neighborhood" socials with in just a few scant years of their recently approved projects.

The invitations will be not to reconcile but to promote yet another project or perhaps full annexation to the city......Mark my will happen within 5 years and if not I shall be dunked to death or tarred and feathered.

You see this is how comunities are over-developed. Over time and with highly manipulative pr firms, attorneys and cults that churn neighborhoods populations until there is no one to left to fight.

8/14/2007 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Since your post I called the county and asked when Westmont last asked for new plans and they said 1976 and that this recently approved was an update of the same basic plan but with better planning and a much cooler and sustainable design.

And I do not understand the pro-development comment - did they sell the property without anyone knowing it or are you saying the new president is a developer?

8/15/2007 5:57 PM  

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