Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 4:16 am | Fair 56º


Pastor Rick Warren to Speak at Westmont Commencement

Pastor Rick Warren, founder of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and author of the book The Purpose-Driven Life, will speak at Westmont College’s commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 4 on Carr Field.

Pastor Rick Warren
Pastor Rick Warren

Edward and Suzanne Birch, leaders in the education community and active volunteers in local organizations, will receive the Westmont Medal. The class of 2013 includes 305 graduates; 106 will receive academic honors. Golden Warriors, who graduated in 1963, will march in the procession and celebrate their 50th reunion.

Commencement is free and open to the public, but no parking is available on campus. Guests must park their cars at Santa Barbara City College and use Westmont’s free shuttle service to campus, arriving at SBCC no later than 9:30 a.m.

“Rick Warren lives out his faith on a global scale, serving his own congregation and people worldwide through hundreds of ministries he has established to meet both physical and spiritual needs,” Westmont President Gayle Beebe said. “It’s a privilege to welcome him to campus and award him an honorary doctorate.

“Ed and Sue Birch, our Westmont medal recipients, continue to be significant members of the Westmont community who are also widely involved as local volunteers and leaders. We honor their commitment to education, to serving others and to making Santa Barbara a better place for all.”

A global strategist, philanthropist, pastor and author, Warren has lectured at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the United Nations, the Global Health Summit, the Aspen Ideas Institute, TED, and numerous world congresses. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Saddleback Church attracts about a 100,000 attendees and offers more than 300 ministries. Warren graduated from California Baptist University and earned a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Edward Birch, president and CEO of the Samuel B. and Margaret C. Mosher Foundation and trustee of the Margaret C. Mosher Trust, has distinguished himself during a 35-year career in management. He served as chairman of the board of Pacific Capital Bancorp (2004 to 2010), as executive vice president of Westmont (1993 to 2001), and as vice chancellor of UC Santa Barbara (1976 to 1993), with a stint as vice president, business units, for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He has been a Westmont trustee since 2003.

His community service includes board membership with Cottage Health Systems, the Channel City Club, the Community Arts Music Association, the UCSB Foundation, the Statewide Board of the UCSB Economic Forecast Project, and the Advisory Board of Johns Hopkins University. He graduated from the State University of New York, earned a master’s at Ohio University, and completed a doctorate in education at Michigan State University.

Suzanne Birch has an extensive background in education, serving as a teacher, head of lower school and counselor at Laguna Blanca School, as a computer instructor for the Santa Barbara County Education Office, as supervisor of student teachers at UC Santa Barbara, and as an educational instructional specialist for IBM.

She has devoted time to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Marymount School, the Non-Profit Support Board, Opera Santa Barbara, Laguna Blanca School, All Saints Parish School, the Cancer Center Children’s Group and Westmont. She earned a master’s degree in counseling at Ohio State University after graduating from the State University of New York.

This year’s graduating class includes Tugce Canitez, two-time NAIA Player of the Year and member of the national champion women’s basketball team. Fellow teammates Jillian Wilber, Larissa Hensley and Gracie Boelsems will also graduate.

The parents of Nick Davis, who was killed in a motorcycle crash near campus Jan. 8, will attend commencement to receive his diploma.

The Class of 2013 includes four Monroe Scholars — Samantha Gardner of Los Alamitos, Daniel Gee of Temple City, Kacie Kyne of Ridgway, Colo., and Wesley Zuidema of Ontario. The Monroe Scholarship honors top students with full-tuition scholarships. Gee also earned the 2013 Faculty Scholarship Award for the highest cumulative GPA.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.


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