Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, August 06, 2007

Is Westmont the New UCSB?

PacBizTimes just did a story on Westmont's new President Gayle Beebe and how he wants to continue growing the university into Montecito. Unfortunately, he has a history of growth considering the fact that he grew Spring Arbor Michigan to a doubled budget of $52 million and 14 more buildings. Enrollment doubled and Spring Arbor was named one of the best "Christian" places to work by Christian Today Magazine. I'm all for delivering God's purpose but do not think it can be seen in doubling Westmont's enrollment and that his intention? Read more at the PCBT.....Beebe seems to be demuring from double growth but is not saying he won't either.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not take him at his word - don't see anything in his interview that says he is going to grow Westmont to 27,000 students.

Let's take the time to solve real problems and not waste time creating 27,000 straw dogs yapping in the heart of Montecito.


8/06/2007 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh? It's taken UCSB 40 years to double in size... from 10,000 students to 20,000. That didn't happen in one leaders watch, and actually represents a slower growth rate than most of the County (Santa Barbara and Montecito excepted).

The West Campus at UCSB was purchased in 1967 with intention of growing the Campus to 26,000. Didn't happen, and most of the West Campus is open space and reserve.

So hard to say how you justify that comparison, Sara.

8/06/2007 11:04 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

In the article, he adeptly sidestepped the issue by talking about the "1,200 students" the college hosts every year. These are young people that are at soccer or basketball camp -- which is a good thing -- but does not answer the question posed by the PCBT.

He then speaks of economic development rather than the 12 buildings slated. Even PCBT plays it down by saying only 4 of 12 building will start being constructed in May. Of course there will be money spent on the process, but at what cost?

I'm willing to see what happens but am not happy with the evasive, sound-bite tone of Westmont's new President....

8/06/2007 11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He speaks of "economic development" because he knows people get freaky if he just says he is going to build buildings. The buzz words in education today require talking about community benefits, not just the education of students themselves.

He is just savvy to the new lingo, not evasive at all.

People want to know what is in it for them. They want to know the economy is going to improve by educating students, not just the value of education itself. I think this is too bad, but it is wrong to say he is speaking in sound-bites be evasive.

Soundbites yes, but more to translate the education mission than to build another UCSB. I appreciate your concerns, but I do wonder why poor little Westmont is the recipient.

8/06/2007 11:31 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

BTW -- I didn't say anything about 27,000 new students but 12 new building will bring a marked increase in student size in relation to Westmont's cuurent enrollment. Please don't confuse the issue -- more buildings equals more students for which we do not have the infrastructure. If you say we do, where are your kids going to buy a home? Where are these students going to live?

8/06/2007 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new building at Westmont are to replace really inadequate present buildings. Where are they going to live -- in the newly constructed dorms. How possibly does this turn into a threat to where your kids are going to buy a home.

They are not unless you build an addition to your own home or give them a million dolllars.

And that has nothing to do with Westmonts plans, long on the drawing board and gone through endless reviews and standoffs with the neighbors. It finally passed. Please just let them build their necessary buildings in peace.

That neighborhood is watcthing them like a hawk so let's not create problems where they do not exist.

Though one problem is any time anyone tries to better something already here, someone screams it is going to affect housing.

It is not. People live here they die here and they move in and they move out, and there is already tons of affordable housing.

There are far stronger forces increasing housing demands right under your nose that everyone is ignoring, than Westmont's long planned and long approved building plan.

Take your kids on a tour and ask them which housing project they want to live in order to stay in Santa Barbara and tell them to start saving now.

8/06/2007 11:47 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Even with housing being developed on campus -- more structure for student housing will eventually mean increases in enrollment and a need to house those would be hard to believe these buildings are for a frozen enrollment.

Agreed -- Westmont went through the hoops and I have no issue with Dr. Beebe other than how he phrased the above. I wish him the best and am sure he will be a great President for Westmont.

8/07/2007 6:47 AM  
Blogger susano said...

"... there is already tons of affordable housing."
You're kidding 11:47, right?

8/07/2007 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Santa Barbara area has and will continue to grow at approximately 1-2% a year. This is no cause for alarm. Just staying still, Santa Barbara naturally grows with more births than deaths.

Which is one more strong argument in favor of selling more houses to wealthy older people who won't be having more children and a far less impact on our total environment for those of us already here who want to protect the status quo as much as possible.

Bring on wealthy, older, childless couples - a newly protected class that should be encouraged to come here ..... and spend their money here. Far better the city builds housing for them, rather than more low enders on the economic scale who put nothing back into the economy. And don't even say thanks.

8/07/2007 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PCBT needs to step up and deliver the hard questions more often, with follow-ups to clarify some of these points. It's a training ground for good young reporters, but they need to get better faster now that their news is really needed.

8/07/2007 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara -

I am one of the closest neighbors to the Westmont College and follow all of this very very closely. In fact, I am exhausted by following these past seven years. And trust me there will be no more than 1200 students at Westmont.

Westmont has planned for 1200 students since the 1960's. They have not asked for anymore.
And they have agreed and placed in their CUP that they will stay at 1200.

In the 1970's when they received approval for the 1200, they received approval for a campus master plan. The recently approval was for an Update to that approved plan.

They are not adding residents on campus but getting students out of three to a room and out of dorm rooms that we created as study rooms.

They are adding classroom for the first time in decades and creating labs and an art building along with a chapel (fitting).

There is no way the campus could have more than 1200 politically and physically - they spent seven years- three environmental reports and more than a dozen hearings - not to mention millions of dollars to earn approval for an Update the county requested.

Got to be careful here when you go off with no facts - read the facts - call the county planners.

You have attacked the integrity of a man because of how he was quoted - not fair.

8/07/2007 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is tons of affordable housing in this city. Walk around a bit, go to open houses, see all the illegal units, the second units, the public housing. Tons of it.

If you don't see it, you obviously have not let it come into your neighborhood. Or you are are keeping your eyes closed to what your neighbor is doing with his garage or garden shed.

8/07/2007 7:42 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

7:33 pm -- this wasn't an attack on Dr. Beebe. You will notice above that I wish him well. Still, he is used to a high growth school....asking the question is not an attack, it is simply a question. I am not attacking his integrity as you will notice there are no public comments saying he doesn't want Westmont to grow...what is his intention? I haven't seen anything on it yet it seems he was asked that directly and did not answer.

8/07/2007 8:58 PM  
Blogger Telford said...

Sara, I'm an appreciative long-time reader and lurker who teaches at Westmont. I don't see how the article supports your anxieties.

First, we're not a university as you state. We're a liberal arts college. Beebe comes from a university. The article doesn't formally distinguish the two, so your claim is an honest mistake, and from a distance a minor one. But it suggests that you've overlooked a key difference between where he's coming from and where he's going, and between what Westmont is and what you fear it might become. Believe me, he and the rest of us here know the difference between a university and a liberal arts college -- and what that difference means for our mission and the kind of environment that supports it. The kind of growth you worry about isn't compatible with our mission. It would be like trying to add a drive-thru to the Palace Grill.

Looking back at his time at Spring Arbor, "Beebe ... does not foresee that sort of rapid growth for Westmont. Instead, he told the Business Times during an interview, he expects the expansion will enrich the academic experience for some 1,200 students the school hosts every year."

What is "expanding" is not our enrollment but our facilities -- to respect the needs created by our move from 800 to 1200 on-campus students back in the 1970s. We are not growing, but playing "catch-up" to bring our long outgrown facilities in line with what the community approved for us a generation ago. Neither he nor the article never suggests otherwise, and I don't see his comments as evasive in any way.

"'We have so many kids whose first experience of Westmont is at a sports camp,' he said."

Beebe never says that 1200 kids go to our sports camps. You somehow conflated the neighborhood's summer campers and the 1200 students. They are not linked in the article.

"The improvements are estimated to cost $250 million. He said an additional $200 million is going to capital improvements. Beebe said he wants to expand Westmont's international programs and increase scholarships."

'Improvement' is a far better word than 'expansion', just because 'expansion' suggests what you worry about while 'improvement' describes what is actually happening. Beebe does hope for a kind of expansion -- expanding Westmont's international programs, etc. -- but that is not growth in on-campus enrollment. That is limited by our Conditional Use Permit. The 'expansion' of international programs means more off-campus opportunities, not a larger on-campus student body. The increasing of scholarships means a more affordable place for more students, not more students.

BTW, the economic-impact angle and the "Beebe knows how to grow a school" lede strike me as odd, and likely to scare some neighbors; and that's too bad. But they make a certain amount of sense in an interview with the Pacific Business Times -- whose agenda is business/growth/development and who probably asked him to comment on the building process' effect on business in the area. Just because that's the article's agenda doesn't make it ours or Beebe's.

I'm not upset with the article or your post, just hoping to correct some common misperceptions and dispel some fears.

Telford Work
Religious Studies, Westmont College

P.S. This is in no way an official statement, just the quick thoughts of a prof surfing the web from home.

8/08/2007 8:53 AM  
Blogger jqb said...

Did I say something unprintable? I simply asked why an omnipotent God would need Gayle Beebe (or anyone else) for delivering his purposes.

8/08/2007 1:15 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"as he described the projected $1 billion economic impact as “significant.” "

Really? How does $250M turn into $1B? With only 1200 students?

All this blah, blah, blah about 1%-2% growth is BS. The exising residents have every right to insist that all developement not impact their exising lifestyle and enviroment that is slowly being bled to death by these small, incremental projects that do nothing but enrichen the few and impact the many.

It is a good observation that all thoughout Cali, politicians, urban planners and developers are pushing the buzz words of "smart growth", "sustainability" and "mixed use"...Yada Yada Yada.

It is just another way of saying "Don't worry honey, this will hurt a bit at first but you'll eventually like it."

It's the same tact UCSB is using and Westmont is just tagging along...UCSB has bent the rules for 15 years at least, knowing there's little we can do to stop them.


Why do you think Westmont won't push the envelope too? Follow the money...

8/08/2007 6:32 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...


Thank you so much for your thoughts -- part of what I do at BlogaBarbara is try to create conversations that can bust misconceptions that even I have. I appreciate your comments and it is clear I went a bit too far in my assessment. I apologize but am always wanting to be careful and keep a watchful eye.

Thanks again for the info...


8/08/2007 6:50 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

jqb -- actually didn't see that comment. Sorry. It must have been lost somewhere.

8/08/2007 6:51 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...


You make it all sound so serene and benign. I think it's fine to refurbish the facilities as all property needs when it's time. I just wonder then why all the opposition by your neighbors. Adding that many buildings on the property seems a bit out of touch with your area. How much additional energy and water will these new facility needs? Benefits you and your ability to raise funds I bet but what about the impact all around. $450 mill sure seems like a lot of loose change for a 1200 student college. Lot of bake sales and car washes I suppose.

How about just spending $100 mill and donate the rest to the "Widen 101" charity I just started. It's a non profit of course and I promise all the money will go to road work less, ahem, a small management fee for my mostly donated time.

8/08/2007 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sa1, you must have missed the last board of supervisors meeting when 20 neighbors spoke in favor of Westmont and just 2 against. this whole post is in a time warp of 18 month old misinformation

8/09/2007 10:28 PM  
Anonymous sa1 said...

"this whole post is in a time warp of 18 month old misinformation "

You're probably right, I get ornery when I'm off my meds.

However, I was recently in Tucson and they have a charity org called "Junque for Jesus".

They were struggling to collect 1000 pairs of shoes so young poor kids could go to school...J for J was only halfway there...the ironic juxtaposition of how much one christian org spends on 1200 students and how much another can struck me as note worthy.

Glad I live in, seriously

8/09/2007 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard about the proposed "Isla Vista Ordinances" to basically BAN loud music in I.V. during ten days before and after Halloween? It's a bizarre, treading on anti-constitutional proposal. Go to the Board of Sup agenda at

8/10/2007 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Westmont campus is simply not a good location for the college even with the current 1200 students and buildings -- the Zaca fire situation makes this very obvious.

Westmont has agreed that in a wildfire evacuation students, faculty and staff will all stay on campus. Why? the agreement helped get their master plan approved and the roads would be to congested to get out anyway -- so they will stay on campus and let the neighbors use the roads.

Do the students, faculty and staff realize they signed up for this?

Read about it on their website.

8/18/2007 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a student at Westmont and I am now a staff member there, and I can say without a doubt that Dr. Beebe is not planning on expanding the enrollment of Westmont. We will be keeping the exact same number of students, and will not expand past that. The new buildings are to solve the problem of insufficient space. The campus as it is was not built to hold 1,200 students. We are building to fix that. We value the fact that we're a small college.

9/27/2007 10:08 PM  

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