Crestmont board tackles challenges


SHOWN AT A recent meeting of the crestmont college board of directors (l-r) are: Jim Reeves, Dr. James Hartman, board chair, Dr. Dennis VanderWeele, Sherrill Overfield, Captain Steve Smith and Roxanne Morse.


For the past six months, the 16 dedicated members of the Board of Advisors for The Salvation Army Crestmont College in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA have been tackling a unique challenge…identifying their new roles in serving the evolving needs of the Western Territory’s new “center for lifelong learning.”

Crestmont College, officially inaugurated in September 2000 with its School for Officer Training and its School for Continuing Education, is grappling with brand new issues such as curriculum development for new programs, upper division coursework and accreditation, distance learning, academic partnerships, student recruitment, community relations and fund raising.

“These are new areas for many of our board volunteers,” said board member Dr. Dennis VanderWeele, a faculty member at Occidental College who is currently providing consulting assistance in Crestmont’s Provost Office. “Strategic expansion of the board to aid in this development is becoming a major priority.”

Board Chairman Dr. Jim Hartman, Chief Financial Officer for Chadwick School, directed a board retreat this fall in which members worked with the college’s faculty to develop the structure for an effective relationship. “We looked for strategies to integrate the expertise and experience of board members directly into the operations of the college,” Hartman said. “While the board is primarily advisory in nature, we want to make significant contributions.”

One strategy has been to make it possible for board members to learn about the day-to-day work that takes place in the college’s four administrative councils. Board member Sherrill Overfield, recently retired from TRW, has been impressed by the magnitude of what it takes to manage college operations.

“We’re here first to learn and then to help,” Overfield said. “Board members are seeing first-hand the overwhelming logistics of running the college, and we hope that in time our presence will bring expertise, fresh views and community perspectives.”

Crestmont President/Principal Lt. Colonel Doug O’Brien affirms the value of board participation. “We need the board’s knowledge and support at all levels of our organization,” he said. “Board members will also be serving on the school’s 10 accreditation self-study groups, newly formed to support the process of seeking accreditation for the proposed BA-degree program from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Additionally, the board’s executive committee will be participating in the college’s annual review board.”

Five board members served on the initial territory-wide Steering Team which developed the Crestmont College concept. VanderWeele, one of those who participated, found the process to be instructive for both the officers and the board volunteers. “Fuller knowledge of territorial needs, concerns and aspirations can only make for a more responsive higher education opportunity, which we hope Crestmont will be,” he said. Board member Jon Cartwright, formerly a Vice President for IBM and Professor of Management at USC, said that serving on the steering team with officers and others around the territory has made him a far better board member.

Nowhere has the enthusiasm and dedication of Crestmont’s board been more evident than in members’ full response to the first-ever board giving campaign, launched in October. With the strong leadership of campaign chair Ruberta Weaver and with gifts from 100% of its members, the board has established a new President’s Fund for Excellence, to “enhance the educational atmosphere” of Crestmont College.

“We’re grateful for our board’s faith in Crestmont and for their wonderful support,” O’Brien said. “They are some of the heroes of this transition.”

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