About The Institute

The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization was founded in 2002 for the purpose of encouraging the teaching of the Western Tradition. Our courses are taught at the Institute building at 10060 Bubb Road in Cupertino.

All of the courses presented by the Institute stress four principles:

  1. the chronological
  2. the biographical
  3. the interdisciplinary
  4. the aesthetic

We believe that:

  • Any student needs a solid chronological structure of knowledge in order to understand any period of history;
  • The activities of great men and women often drive history and that the knowledge of their lives helps us to understand any period of history;
  • Various fields of study such as economics, sociology, anthropology must augment a historical core of study in order to understand any period of history;
  • And finally, that the artistic achievements of the human community provide important insights into the past and that the aesthetic experience should be part of any study of history.

These principles animate both the teaching of Institute courses and activities with local educators. Beyond the central teaching activity of the Institute, there is also a program of outreach to the Bay Area educational community with special emphasis on the teaching of history in secondary education. We are able to offer a limited number of partial scholarships for teachers currently teaching in local high schools.

In addition to our classes, we also offer regular public lectures on Friday and Saturday evening at the Institute on various subjects with a special emphasis on art.

Supporting the Institute

The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization is a non-profit corporation registered with the Secretary of State of California and with the United States Internal Revenue Service as an approved 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation. All donations are tax-deductible.

Our classes are financed by course enrollment fees. Other institute activities such as our libraries are financed by donations and therefore we will gratefully accept donations in the form of books or other support.

Institute Policy on Nondescrimination

The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to its students and does not discriminate on the basis of race in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs, and other institute-administered programs.

Director and Board

WILLIAM FREDLUND, the Director of the Institute, obtained his B.A. and M.A. from UCLA, where he specialized in European history and art history. After independent study in Europe, Dr. Fredlund came to Stanford University to pursue graduate study in history and humanities, specializing in Renaissance Italy and completing a double Ph.D. in history and humanities. Dr. Fredlund studied in Italy on a Fulbright Fellowship. While living in Italy, he lectured extensively in Florence for American university programs such as those of UCLA and University of Michigan, as well as for University of Florence. In the United States, Dr. Fredlund has taught for UCLA, Stanford, and UCSC-Extension.

NATHANIEL COLLINS, Chairman of the Board, earned a B.S. and a M.S. degree from Boston University's College of Engineering in 1991. Since then he has held semiconductor technology development positions with Texas Instruments and Micron Technology in Texas, Italy, and California. Nat holds two U.S. patents. His volunteer work includes teaching economics to high school seniors through Junior Achievement. Nat is also a violinist and board member of the Palo Alto Philharmonic.

JOAN NIEMEIER, Chief Financial Officer, holds a B.S. in Business (Accounting) from San Jose State University, and earned the CPA Certificate in 1991. She has worked with (and taken classes at) the Institute since 2001, and is currently also studying French at the Institute. Joan and her husband Charles live in Woodside.

MARY ELLEN CUYKENDALL, Board Member, was born and raised in New Jersey. She has studied Horticulture at Foothill College and had her own design firm. While raising her two children she served on the board of the San Jose COOP Preschool and was active in countless PTA organizations. Her volunteer activities include Our City Forest, A Girls Middle School and Hospice of the Valley. In addition to her love of art and history, Mary Ellen is interested in bicycling, knitting, gardening and traveling with her husband Blaine.

MARY DUNLAP, Board Member, was born and raised in Detroit where she attended and worked for Wayne State University in a Pulmonary Physiology Research Lab. She was involved in interfaith community organizing work and spent much time with her large family. In Southern California she worked in a pulmonary lab at the L. A. County Hospital. When her husband, Wayne, was transferred to this area she returned to school at San. Jose State University and graduated with a BS in nursing. She worked as an Oncology nurse and was on the Ethics committee. She is interested in ethics and has attended lectures at Stanford and Santa Clara University. She has attended classes at the ISWC for several years enjoys classical music, theatre, and visits with her family.

ROBERT GARNER, Board Member, was raised in Menlo Park and is a Stanford graduate with a B.A. in political science (and one of the last undergraduates to take Western Civ!). Following graduation he spent a year with the Commerce Department in Washington, D.C. and three years as Legislative Assistant and Press Secretary to Congressman John Murphy, working in his Washington and New York City offices. He returned to the bay area and went to work for Santa Clara County where he was the County's Public Administrator/Guardian, Director of the Office of Criminal Justice Planning, and for most of his career, Director of the County's Department of Alcohol and Drug Services. He retired from the County in April of 2012 after 41 years of service. In addition to his love of the history of western civilization and art Bob is interested in sculpture and is an avid golfer. He and his wife Penny travel frequently to Europe and Asia.

MIKE MILLER, Board Member, was born and raised in Los Gatos, California. After graduating with a B.A. degree in Economics from San Jose State University, Mike went to work for NYNEX Corporation in Boston, as part of their Technology Sales Division. Upon returning to California in 1991, Mike began his career in commercial real estate. He is currently a vice president at Colliers International in San Jose, where he leads the Office Division and is a board member for the Association of Silicon Valley Brokers. The father of two boys, Mike volunteers his time with the South County Basketball Academy and the Charter School of Morgan Hill.

ROGER STEIN, Treasurer, was born in Chicago, Illinois. He received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1978 and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1978, both from Washington University in St Louis. Roger completed his M.B.A. at the University of Chicago in 1986 and has studied at the London School of Economics. From 1988 to 1996, he worked for Intel Corporation in marketing and currently is Product Marketing Manager for NetApp in Sunnyvale, California.

DIANNA VAN DER WERFF, Board Member, was born and raised in the Santa Clara Valley. She holds a B.A. degree in Economics from San Jose State University. She has worked in the Bay Area as a controller for an anodizing company and has held various contractor positions in accounting. In 2003, she helped Professor Fredlund organize and found the Institute and was its first CFO. She enjoys traveling with her husband, T.J. Pellicer, a software engineer and musician.

NORMAN WHITELEY, Board Member, was born and raised in Portland and was educated at Caltech (B.S. Chemistry), and Harvard (Ph.D. Biological Chemistry). He worked for DuPont, mostly in marketing, and later was a founding employee of Applied Biosystems. After retiring from there as the R&D manager for DNA products, Norm became a "soccer mom" (actually a "swim dad") and was elected to the San Carlos School Board, where he served for 12 years. With both children now grown, he and his wife Carol, a retired Spanish teacher, study Western Civilization, travel, and try to stay in shape.

Location and Directions

The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization is located at 10060 Bubb Road, Cupertino, CA, 95014. We are directly across Highway 85 from De Anza college in Cupertino, just south of Stevens Creek Blvd.

From Highway 85:

  1. Exit at Stevens Creek Blvd, heading west (headaway from De Anza College).
  2. Turn left onto Bubb Road (first street west of Hwy 85).
  3. You will see a 76 station at the corner. The driveway for the Institute is the first on the leftafter passing the 76 station. Merge into the available center left-turn lane and turn left into the parking lot.
  4. Drive to the back of 10060 Bubb and you will see the entrance to the Institute.