Philosophy professor recalls Westmont experience
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Dr. James Taylor, alumnus and current philosophy professor, attended Westmont in the 1970s, when fewer than 840 students were enrolled and tuition was $3,600. Taylor describes how Westmont has changed since his college years. Many facilities including Emerson, the new DC, Adams Hall, Whittier and Winter Halls were yet to be built. All freshmen lived in Page and some classes were held in what are now offices in Kerwood Hall. Spring Sing was held on the hill where Emerson now sits. And commencement was on the lawn in front of the DC. “Chapel was four days a week, open hours were very restricted and there were no classes on Wednesday as it was reserved for studying and lab days,” Taylor remembers.
Dr. Taylor heard about Westmont through friends in his church’s youth group, applied and was accepted. “I loved the campus, my fellow students and my classes,” said Taylor. During his time at Westmont, Taylor was involved in various extracurricular activities, including singing in the college choir and and directing On-Campus Ministries with Christian Concerns (now Westmont Ministries).
“We started a vespers service on Sunday evenings with just a couple of us playing guitar and a handful of students attending,” Taylor said. Dr. Taylor also attended the first campus-wide Potter’s Clay and served as a Vacation Bible School (VBS) leader, interpreter and guitar-player.
Dr. Taylor was a philosophy major at Westmont. “I was facing serious doubts about the existence of God during my senior year,” he explained. “This experience made me realize that God was calling me to get a Ph.D. in philosophy and to teach at a place like Westmont so that I could be available to talk with students who struggle with doubts.”
While teaching philosophy at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Dr. Taylor was informed by a former Westmont philosophy professor about an open position at Westmont and encouraged to apply. Despite earning tenure at BGSU, Dr. Taylor gave it up to return to Westmont as a professor. “I became convinced that God was calling me to teach at a Christian liberal arts college rather than at a secular state university.”
“I wanted to teach philosophy in a context in which I could encourage my students to think about philosophical issues from a Christian point of view and to use philosophy as a tool for developing a Christian worldview. Westmont is an ideal setting for these sorts of activities,” said Taylor.
“I love teaching and spending time with Westmont students,” said Taylor. “It's a privilege and a pleasure to be present with students when they are engaging in activities that result in their intellectual enrichment and spiritual growth. I enjoy conversing with students about philosophical and theological issues and I find it very meaningful to talk to students about the questions and doubts they have about the Christian faith.”