Pepperdine University 2003 Annual Report A Heritage of Faith
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A Heritage of Faith    Spirit of the Past    Wave of the Future    From Sea to Shining Sea

A Heritage of FaithStrengthening our Heritage of Faith is one of five major emphases President Benton enumerated in his inaugural address three years ago. He has declared that those five goals are central to his tenure as president.

To some, a Heritage of Faith may not seem to be at the same level of importance as other goals, such as strengthening our resources, our diversity, our sense of community, or our emphasis on scholarship and culture. But all seven of Pepperdine's presidents, in their day-to-day struggles, observed the providence of God in the affairs of this often-blessed University. Especially in retrospect, all of the University's chief executives have seen the guiding hand of God, in much the same way that the founders of our nation all agreed that God was, indeed, involved in America's struggle for liberty and independence.

A longtime English professor from Wellesley College, Miss Katherine Lee Bates, was lecturing at a summer session at Colorado College in 1893. In her notebook, she scribbled, "One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse."

Thomas JeffersonThere on Pikes Peak, Miss Bates captured the mood of the founders as she wrote in her notebook, "America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea."

"The God Who gave us life
gave us liberty at the same time."

- Thomas Jefferson

We are deeply grateful for University founder George Pepperdine, who dreamed large and invested completely. We are grateful, too, for Blanche Ebert Seaver, a friend most dear and most generous, without whom we would not be where we are today. As each day dawns, the faculty and staff are thankful for the special place where they labor- a place provided by a whole host of people who, we believe, were sent to us by God. Our mission statement affirms that "Pepperdine is a Christian university committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership." We believe that this is a university for just such a time as this. We are proud of our people and our achievements, and also proud that we have never forgotten our heritage of faith. It is both the path by which we have arrived at this point and the source of our confidence in the future.This report glances backward toward the "Spirit of the Past," as we consider quotations from America's founders concerning the national heritage of faith that guided them in the establishment of our nation. Then the report looks forward toward the "Wave of the Future," as we consider Pepperdine alumni and others who are building upon a foundation of faith with accomplishments that improve the lives of thousands.

Our heritage as a university has deep underpinnings. It is a solid foundation of faith that includes the principles that directed our nation in the days leading up to the American Revolution. The nature of a foundation is that it does not-or should not-change. The structures built upon it may be modified or even rebuilt. But the foundation remains firm. Our nation embraces people of many different faiths. Nevertheless, the particular seeds of faith that produced our national heritage can be traced to the land of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. From there, the growth of faith can be traced to Rome, Western Europe, and finally to Colonial America. Though we may at times forget it, America was born in revolution, with ideas of freedom based on assumptions . . ."certain inalienable rights." Our founders were virtually unanimous in their belief that liberty is granted, not by government, but by God.

Today, we may be shocked by the straightforward references to God and faith that are found everywhere in the language of America's founders. However, the patriots were only expressing what the majority of Americans believed. And the history of our nation following those monumental days of revolution-the vision, the courage, the struggle, the triumph-was grounded on faith in a divine plan.

We may not have heard these words in many years, or perhaps ever. The quotations, from some of our greatest patriots, conjure up the "Spirit of the Past," a spirit of faith and courage that forged our infant nation. The ideas contained in the quotations also motivated our founder, George Pepperdine, and our greatest benefactors.