Westmont Names New Provost

By Scott Craig   |   February 15, 2022
Westmont’s new provost Kimberly Battle-Walters Denu

Kimberly Battle-Walters Denu, a stalwart of Christian higher education, takes over Westmont’s academic programs as the new provost beginning August 1.

“We’re grateful to hire Kim Denu, a gifted leader, global scholar, and a recognized educator with 25 years of executive leadership experience in Christian higher education,” says President Gayle D. Beebe. “Deeply committed to her Christian faith, she brings a high level of integrity and a lengthy, proven track record of leading strong teams as an accomplished administrator and collaborator with both academic institutions and national organizations. She possesses the education, leadership, and global experience and awareness we expect in our chief academic officer.” 

She will replace Rick Ifland, who has served as interim provost following the retirement of Mark Sargent at the end of 2020.

A product of Christian higher education, Denu believes strongly in the value of institutions like Westmont, which can “speak to cultural matters, ameliorate social issues, and bring hope to hopeless situations.” She seeks to uphold Westmont’s academic integrity and the Christian mission of the college while building an atmosphere in which faculty and students feel valued, respected, seen, and heard.

“It will be my great privilege to partner with Dr. Beebe, the faculty, and the entire Westmont community as we seek dynamic solutions and collaborative partnerships in the years ahead. I look forward to working with this incredible team of people committed to rigorous academics and a deep love for God expressed through our education to students from all over the world,” she says.

An ordained minister, she currently serves as interim director at the District Church in Washington, D.C. In the past year, Denu, who comes from four generations of pastors, considered entering full-time ministry. 

“But I felt God leading me to return to Christian higher education with my dual calling to work in the academy and with God’s people. Westmont is the perfect place for me to combine my calling and passion for the academy and scholarly rigor and my heart for God,” she says.

Previously, Denu worked as vice president for educational programs for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (2019-2021). She spent much of her career at Azusa Pacific University (1997-2018), most recently as vice president and chief diversity officer. 

A two-time Fulbright scholar, she has conducted research projects in South Africa (2002) and Ethiopia, (2018-2019); her husband’s native country. She has published in the areas of African-American issues, women, and family matters, leadership, welfare reform, and international relations. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy in sociology at the University of Florida, a Master of Social Work from Temple University, and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology at Vanguard University.

Denu comes to Westmont following an extensive search. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she looks forward to moving back to California with her husband and their three children.


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