Provost's Philosophy of Education
John Henry Newman maintained that a university does not begin with brick or mortar, nor even with students and faculty, but with an idea. If the founding idea is not sound, the project will be flawed. The idea may grow and evolve over time; indeed, it should. So it is that the idea of Pepperdine University continues to mature "through the days and years and generations." The essential idea, the kernel, of the institution imagined by Mr. Pepperdine was clear from the beginning: It would be a great institution committed to liberal learning and the professions, but it would also be dedicated to the glory of God. Mr. Pepperdine saw no contradiction between these twin goals. He believed that his college should offer a comprehensive education founded on solid scholarship and faith in the teachings of Scripture.
The first goal of this journey is to locate Pepperdine historically. The university in the West evolved over the last eight centuries. We can understand ourselves better if we recognize our place in the long lineage deriving from the first universities in the West.
Secondly, with greater historical understanding, we can think more deeply about our uniqueness. Pepperdine occupies a particular spot within the broad spectrum of academic institutions. Of the 4,168 U.S. institutions of higher learning, there is only one Pepperdine. While we have much in common with our peers, we have some singular differences too. It would be good if we better understood how we differ from our secular counterparts.
Finally, I wish to offer some ways for "keeping the faith," that is, for keeping the faith component of the University alive and well. As history shows with abundant clarity, the temptation to secularize is as predictable as it is powerful. It has happened to the best. It could happen to us, but it is not inevitable. There are concrete choices to make—and values to hold tightly—if we are to keep this from happening.
—Darryl Tippens, Provost of Pepperdine University