Annual Report '05-'06

If the world’s leading architects and designers were challenged to create a seminal monument to celebrate the human spirit, you can imagine the great diversity of ideas that might emerge. Some might project such a monument in terms of its boldness and sheer height; an imposing tower of power and strength. Others might suggest a monument much more subtle in nature, more inviting of individual inquiry and interpretation.

"One of our chief goals at Pepperdine University is to strengthen and sustain our emphasis on scholarship and culture in the context of Christian higher education."

History has seen creation of many such monuments honoring the human spirit. Arguably, the Statue of Liberty is one of the best. Unlike monuments which honor individuals or memorialize events, the Statue of Liberty honors an ideal. That humankind cherishes ideals is, in itself, an enduring characteristic not only of an enduring human spirit, but of humanity authored by God.

One of our chief goals at Pepperdine University is to strengthen and sustain our emphasis on scholarship and culture in the context of Christian higher education. We are committed to seeing each faculty member rise among his or her peers in scholarship and thinking; to promoting nationally recognized scholarship in support of excellence in teaching. Teaching is, after all, our first priority.

As Pepperdine remains committed to preparing our students for meaningful careers, we are equally committed to helping them develop as citizens, as philanthropists, and as individuals of faith and compassion. In short, we are committed to helping our students become better people. We believe that our commitment to enriching students’ lives in all aspects of mind, body, and spirit defines Pepperdine’s special place in American higher education. Our love and concern for each other as human beings created in the image of God further distinguishes Pepperdine from many other institutions of higher learning.

We do not wish to be a dispensary of knowledge, some giant intellectual vending machine, but rather a scholarly community where teachers and students study together, explore together, invent, compose, create, discover, and grow together. This is the idea of higher learning in the classical sense, where professors form an inner circle of intellectual fellowship and support, and students form an outer circle of discipleship and scholarship. From their mentors, students learn to think critically and creatively, examining and celebrating the feats and failures of human history. And at Pepperdine, this study does not happen in isolation; it happens in community. Here, there is shared excitement and a fellowship of learning that permeates the atmosphere when and where our people come together.

Not only do Pepperdine students like the quality education they get here, but they appreciate being valued by faculty and staff. Education at Pepperdine is not restricted to the classroom, and neither is the care and attention our faculty members give students. It is true, whether in Malibu or Los Angeles, Heidelberg, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, or any of our campuses circling the globe.

Perhaps scholarship and culture may be thought of as “Olympics for the mind and heart,” where professors and students, indeed, where ordinary people strive for excellence in the pursuit of knowledge and creativity, in the service of humanity. In that sense, Pepperdine has been a “competitor” from the beginning.

In its first year, 1937, Pepperdine sought and received academic accreditation, an amazing feat. Throughout its early days, the small institution recruited and retained fine teachers and staff members who served with heart, hand, and mind. Though its reputation did not extend far beyond the Los Angeles campus then, Pepperdine College was an excellent school that produced hundreds of schoolteachers and school administrators as well as counselors, ministers, missionaries, and businesspeople. As the decades passed, the college became a university and competed at higher and higher levels. Today, the University has a well-deserved entry in the “World Olympics” of education, being nationally and internationally ranked among the world’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning.

However, while Pepperdine has been placed in the company of some of the finest institutions of higher learning in America, it sees itself in a category of one. It tries to imitate no other university. It is not similar to the secular institutions or other faith-based schools at the top of the various “best colleges” polls. Pepperdine’s true competition is with itself, trying to better itself year by year, in every aspect of education. In other words, the University constantly strives to be a better Pepperdine.

And so, this year, in this annual report, we showcase the strengthening of scholarship and culture at Pepperdine. We honor the achievements of the University and its people. Through this small monument of our own, Pepperdine University celebrates the human spirit.