Global Leadership Center Opens
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With the snip of a ribbon and a jaunty chorus of If I Had a Hammer sung by the Westmont Choir, the long-awaited Global Leadership Center was officially opened to the Westmont and Santa Barbara community. After over a decade in planning, the newest addition to campus was welcomed with coalescence of Westmont alumni, trustees, faculty, students, supporters, GLC contractors, and other individuals from the surrounding community on Friday, Oct. 13th.
Roughly two months into the semester, Westmont students have already begun adjusting to the presence of the GLC’s facilities tucked into the hillside of lower campus. “Doors that open wide,” as Dr. Edee Schulze, Vice President of Student Life at Westmont, described in her dedication speech, welcomed guests into the central naturally lit multi-purpose room of the 45,000 square foot complex.
As the guests settled into the conference hall that was expanded for the event to accommodate the hearty attendance President Gayle Beebe expressed gratitude on behalf of Westmont for the major supporters who dedicated vision and funding for the project. President Beebe emphasized that the GLC was not only for Westmont students — especially those returning from study abroad programs — but for Santa Barbara locals: “This is what came of that idea. We began to pursue not just residence halls, but living-learning centers; places where students can live in community and executives would feel comfortable enough to have the privacy they desire to do summer education.”
Originally, the Global Learning Center was designed in a similar manner to dorms like Clark and Armington to have eight smaller buildings surrounding a singular central building. With the pause between phases of construction, the design of the GLC was reimagined to harbor independence for residents with the private bathrooms, multiple communal kitchens, a coffee shop called Ritchie’s Place, and the central lounge and conference building. Beebe enthusiastically commended the indoor-outdoor design of the GLC intended specifically for the Santa Barbara climate. In particular, he highlighted his favorite feature, the natural lighting in the conference room due to the northern positioning of the building.
The grand opening and dedication ceremony of the GLC rested just before the crux of Westmont’s 80th Homecoming Weekend. Schulze alluded to the full-circle celebration of Westmont founder Ruth Kerr’s original vision eighty years later through the purposes of the GLC: “That students would be prepared to enter any sphere of influence around the globe and make a difference.” Dr. Schulze continued to illustrate the GLC as a landing place for those returning from study abroad as well as a host center for global lectures, discussions, cross-curricular events and dialogue. “We have a tagline a mission statement for the building” Schulze stated, staying “it goes something like this: translate a meaningful global experience into lifelong global engagement.”