Message from the President
During the 2004 academic year, our annual theme was a reminder that Pepperdine is a "distinctive community," a city set on a hill. It is, of course, a community: much of the University is self-contained, with its own residential population, its own public services, and its own entertainment, athletics, and social activities. It also has extensive outreaches to Los Angeles, Southern California, and locations around the world.
Most importantly, however, Pepperdine is a distinctive community because of its shared purposes and presuppositions—its mission. It does not exist to simply perpetuate itself or inflate its own importance. Instead, it is a community of scholars and professionals, intentionally drawn together to enrich and ennoble the larger national and international communities. One of our foremost goals is to convince students of the truth of Marian Wright Edelman's statement, "Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it."
It is rewarding to note that Pepperdine students, as they graduate and leave the institutional environment, take their places in their respective communities and make significant contributions to the welfare of those communities. We want our students to earn a good living, of course. But we hope they will, above all, live a good life. And that means participation in creating a better and safer tomorrow for all people.
As you read this annual report you may discover that Pepperdine is somehow always rushing into the future. It never pauses or stands still or runs in place as an institution. But even as it leaves a frothy wake of advancements and achievements, it stands firm against contemporary storms by mooring itself to timeless principles from ages past, principles that provide meaning, direction, and stability.
Pepperdine is a distinctive community in that it seeks to promote a civil manner in daily conversations and interactions among its people. It seeks to honor all members of the community, from those with the highest profile to those with the least. The University offers freedom to celebrate spirituality and express individual faith. It unapologetically fosters an atmosphere that is healthy and moral. It places character formation and ethical training at the center of its mission. And Pepperdine promotes service to humanity among its students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
There are always challenges that would have us compromise on those things that make Pepperdine distinctive. And there are, it seems, an equal number of challenges to our existence as a viable and vital community. The University has experienced steady growth through the years, from 167 students in its founding year, 1937, to more than 8,000 students today. And size certainly presents accompanying problems in regard to a sense of camaraderie and connectedness. In turn, larger numbers of students, faculty, and staff bring new people into the community who may be unclear concerning the Pepperdine culture and mission. Our desire for a more diverse community, with all the advantages that brings, also introduces a more heterogeneous atmosphere where consensus may be more difficult to achieve. In addition, as we become more mature as an institution, we move farther in time from our founder and his philosophy and intentions. These are some of the challenges we face daily as we seek community.
There are large communities that seem to share nothing more than proximity. The members of such communities are connected not so much by purpose as by location. But at Pepperdine, though we have community members scattered from Malibu to areas in and around Los Angeles and to several international locations, there is an intangible connection that links our people together in a special bond. If I were pressed to pinpoint that connection, I would say that it begins with the twenty-seven words of our mission statement, an ideal that convenes this distinctive community.
The following pages will further explain for you the remarkable sense of community that is our vision and our hope as an institution.
Andrew K. Benton