Pepperdine University 2003 Annual Report A Heritage of Faith
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A Message from the President

Andrew K. BentonPromises are important to our community. The promises we make today provide the foundation for the work we will do tomorrow. Faithfulness to our heritage ennobles and illuminates all that we do. I have not forgotten the promises I made in my inaugural address as I took office in the year 2000.

Since beginning this leadership opportunity, I continue to believe that our greatest challenges are contained in the areas of resources, diversity, heritage, community, and scholarship. We have managed our resources well during this challenging period. We have increased our Instruction and Research budgets by 20.2 percent over the past three years, while holding tuition increases well below the national average. Our enrollments are strong and positioned at or above established benchmarks in each of the five schools.

We have increased our diversity, in part through increasing enrollment of minority students from 24.1 to 28.6 percent institution-wide and an even greater increase from 22.3 to 29.2 percent at Seaver College. In the last year alone we hired twenty-nine new faculty positions throughout the University. Of the full-time contracts issued, fifty percent were women and twenty-five percent were from minority populations.

Progress in community is hard to measure, but easily experienced. Speaking about it is important, and it has been
a theme for me. We are trying to communicate better, with some work still to be done, obviously. But I know of few institutions of higher learning that speak of community as openly as we do, and mean it. When I read in a national survey recently that "apathy and lack of trust are significant barriers to meaningful faculty participation" and that "respect trumps resources," I was reminded how important those issues are to our success.

Scholarship among our faculty is a source of growing pride. I also take particular pride in the accomplishments
of our students and graduates. We see the proof of our work in them. Our new faculty complement our existing scholarly community well. And if by no other measurement than the quality of faculty and admitted students,
we are keeping faith with our promises.

The centerpiece of the five points offered as a promise three years ago was heritage. Our University is unique for
many reasons, but the constancy and centrality of our faith tradition is one of the most unique and important.
James Bryant Conant once said, "He who enters a university, walks on hallowed ground." This is hallowed ground because of the pervasive faith present here. When George Pepperdine established his college in 1937, he wanted to impact culture. Pepperdine, the man and the institution, has sought to influence culture and to place faith in God
in the middle of a cultural crossroads.

In 1937, when Mr. Pepperdine was speaking with the first president, Batsell Baxter, about starting a college, Baxter asked, "Just what do you have in mind?" Mr. Pepperdine replied, "That's the whole trouble, Dr. Baxter, I don't know exactly what I want. I know one or two things I don't want-I don't want another college that will be dependent upon churches for support. I have in mind a four-year, liberal arts college, an institution of higher learning where any worthy boy or girl, regardless of his [or her] religion, or financial standing, can get an education. And I want it to be a college [that is] academically sound, based in Christian faith." Then, he asked this question: "Is that too much to ask?"

About three years ago, I had the opportunity to be with William Sloan Coffin, formerly dean of the chapel at Yale. He posed a different question: "Where does the heart go for an education?" I hope the answer we all would resoundingly offer is, "Right here at Pepperdine." We compete for the hearts and minds of men and women who want an education.

I think our heritage provides light, really good light, for learning. We illuminate lives with immutable truths and notions of oughtness and rightness. We ask no quarter in our competition with the finest, shining institutions of learning in America, and we offer the brilliance and the unique dimension of values in our classes. We invite the presence of God in the midst of all that we do: that, more than anything else, lights our way. So we respond to Mr. Pepperdine's question: No, it is not too much to ask.

As much as I feel urgency about other things, I feel urgency about fidelity and constancy and stewardship in our heritage of faith. There is power in imagery, and there is power in words. Here are some of the most powerful words I've seen-our mission statement:

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.

Andrew K. Benton