Westmont Grad Crowned Miss California

Melissa Chaty, who graduated from Westmont last year with a degree in psychology, was crowed Miss California last month in Fresno. She won a $10,000 scholarship and will compete in the Miss America Pageant next January in Las Vegas. This was her fourth time in the competition; this year, she represented the North Coast, as a resident of Ukiah. Chaty is passionate about Alzheimer’s advocacy and awareness. She plans on using her scholarship winnings to pursue a Master’s degree. She currently lives in San Diego and works as a marketing assistant for the Alzheimer’s Association San Diego/Imperial Chapter.

Master Plan Update

About 12 boxes of paper containing the transcripts of all the hearings and Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) on Westmont’s master plan were recently entered into the court record. A Superior Court judge will hear the suit later this year and should render a decision well before the college begins construction. Officials hope to break ground on four buildings in May. The updated master plan allows a limited time for the phase one construction of Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics, Adams Center for the Visual Arts, a residence hall and a chapel. The lawsuit against the County challenges the unanimous approvals of Westmont’s updated master plan by the Montecito Planning Commission and the County Board of Supervisors.

New Voice Joins Trustees

Westmont alumnus Rick Ifland has joined the board of trustees, which oversees the operations of the college. He has worked as a successful private equity investor and entrepreneur for the past two decades.

“I am thrilled to work closely with a campus that’s filled with tomorrow’s leaders and to help create an optimal environment where they can learn deeply,” Ifland says.

Recent events, including the unanimous approval of the college’s Master Plan, a $75 million gift, and the arrival of new President Gayle Beebe, have created one of the most exciting times in Westmont’s 70-year history, Ifland says.

Ifland graduated from Westmont with a degree in economics and business in 1983, earned an MBA from the University of Kentucky and founded ICS, one of the largest mortgage credit reporting companies in the country. He sold ICS to a Fortune 500 company in 1996 and is now the managing partner of Titus Equity Partners LLC.

He is actively involved with several non-profit companies, including World Wide Open, and Voice for Humanity. World Wide Open connects, empowers, and involves Christians by using technology to link resource-rich people with resource-poor opportunities at the individual, church, and ministry levels.

Voice for Humanity uses audio devices to bring life-saving, life-changing information to oral learners and illiterate people. The organization has played a role in all the recent elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, receiving a contract to go into Taliban strongholds in the Middle East to educate voters about political candidates. Voter registration and turnout have increased by 28% in the region.

Parliamentary and presidential candidates in Afghanistan recorded a promotional message on the audio devices, which were distributed to illiterate voters. “We have been invited back at each election cycle,” Ifland says.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the goal is to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Since many can’t read or write, the audio devices bring them preventive information about HIV/AIDS in ways they’re used to processing information. “We have well-known, influential people tell stories on these devices,” Ifland says. “Oral learners are accustomed to gaining knowledge verbally and in groups through plays, songs, and dramas, rather than through a written, linear approach via pamphlets or seminars like we do in the West.”

Out of This World Camp

Discovery Camp is underway, part of Westmont’s summer Think Camps. Students are setting off water rockets on Kerrwood Lawn, racing their hand-made cardboard boats in the pool and looking at the rings of Saturn through the college’s powerful new telescope. The public is invited to join the kids and their families at the public viewing, Friday, July 20, at the Carroll Observatory. The college and the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum’s Astronomical Unit hold free, public viewings every third Friday of the month.