In 1937 Ruth Kerr founded a liberal arts college committed to the historic Christian faith. Wallace Emerson, the first president, envisioned an institution that rivalled the best colleges nationwide, and he set the standard for academic rigour and excellence that still applies.
By 1945, Westmont outgrew its facilities in Los Angeles and moved to the former Dwight Murphy estate in Santa Barbara with its 125 acres and Mediterranean house. Acquiring another property and the former Deane School for Boys completed the campus that features the pathways, stone bridges, and gardens of the former estate.
Achieving accreditation in 1958, Westmont began building its campus in the 1960s, adding nine major buildings. In 1976, the college received approval for the enrollment of 1,200 students. In 2007, the county authorized an updated campus master plan, and Westmont began the first phase of construction in 2008.