A Response from the Administration
Gary Hanson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
The key to Pepperdine’s success, now and in the future, is our people. Our quality of character as a University is directly related to those who work here and who support us in so many ways. By making this the distinctive and special place it is, our people give integrity to our claims and bring life to our mission.
There is a museum in Victorville, California, that features a large map of the world. Victorville is circled as the destination, and hundreds of colorful pieces of yarn emanate from that circled spot on the map and spread to points of origin all across the globe. Each piece of yarn represents a different person with his or her own story. Each had a personal reason for making the journey, and each earned the right to place a piece of yarn on that map. With every string added, you can imagine that the map becomes more colorful and more interesting. If just one piece of yarn is removed, the map will be diminished. So it is with Pepperdine.
Each one of us has earned the right to place a string between our point of origin and this place. For some Pepperdine may be a last stop on their journey; for others, it is a milestone on the way to somewhere else. But each one whose unique journey and colorful life adorns the Pepperdine map has added great value to the University. Our personal stories are inextricably linked with the others who have been drawn in some way to this destination, and if one piece of yarn were missing, Pepperdine would be less than it is today.
My personal belief is that God has drawn each one of us to the University for purposes beyond our understanding. I came to Pepperdine intent on fulfilling my own agenda and found something greater than I could ever have imagined. I found a career, I found a family of my own, and I found an extended family in this wonderful Pepperdine community. Most important, I found a faith as God’s hand worked in my life at this place. After 27 years I continue to see God’s hand at work, and it is most evident through the people he draws to this place—dedicated, talented, passionate, generous, hard working, entrepreneurial, creative people who love learning, who love young people, and who love God.
The structure of this University is beautiful—with its campuses and facilities in Malibu, and Southern California, and around the globe—but the people of Pepperdine are the heart and soul of this place.
Nancy Magnusson Durham, senior vice president for planning, information, and technology.
The University community comprises a broad array of motivated individuals who are thinkers, problem solvers, experts, artists, entrepreneurs, scholars, and athletes. These individuals have a common characteristic: they all are dreamers who aspire to achieve at the highest levels in their areas of expertise. New faculty members, staff members, and students are invited to join the Pepperdine community based, in part, on their aspirations—aspirations for themselves, for their University, for the country, and for the world. These individuals are determined to impact the world for good.
The administration of this University serves to cultivate the dreams of the faculty, staff, and students. It serves this role by selecting the dreamers, understanding their talents and aspirations, and providing a supportive context and the resources to accomplish their work. One might argue that the dreams of the individual should be sublimated to the goals of the University. I would argue that the goals of the University should be built on the dreams of its faculty, staff, and students. I believe that it is the compilation of these dreams that constitutes the soul of the University.
What are these dreams that lie in the hearts of our faculty, staff, and students? They are dreams to live redeemed lives, dreams for prejudice to melt, dreams that goodness will prevail in the world, and that freedom will reign. Our dreams prompt us to linger after class to engage a distracted student, to cultivate during class discussion a new and barely formed idea, to be present and hopeful when a student is resentful and resistant, and to be tenacious about asking questions designed to reveal truth.
Because our dreams are anchored in the knowledge of the power of the resurrected Christ, we are willing to open ourselves to possibilities otherwise unimaginable. We aspire toward wholeness for all people, for justice and mercy, for freedom and prosperity. It is our dreams and beliefs that create in us the desire to give ourselves passionately to our work, to achieve at the highest levels, and to see each other through lenses shaped by hope, compassion, and renewal.
All the dreams necessary to build a great university reside in the hearts of our community members. The privilege of the administration is to cultivate these dreams. To do so is a worthy calling.
Jeff Pippin, senior vice president for investments and chief investment officer.
How do we measure success at Pepperdine University? As the chief investment officer my mind often leaps to financial measurements. By that metric Pepperdine has been remarkably successful over the past two decades. Total assets have grown from $157 million in 1985 to over $1 billion in 2007. The support we have received from friends over the years has laid a strong foundation for a future filled with possibilities, notwithstanding the challenges of the current financial environment.
Do we measure success by what others say about us? Several surveys have recognized our Malibu campus as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country, and some publications consistently rank Pepperdine in the top tier of national universities.
Our growth in international programs may be another important measurement of success. Pepperdine has expanded its horizons beyond Los Angeles and now has six international campuses and a new campus at 2011 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Nearly 60 percent of our students attend at least one of our international programs during their college career.
Perhaps a better measurement is the quality of the faculty that Pepperdine has assembled. Pepperdine’s faculty members are increasingly recognized around the world for their scholarship while maintaining a commitment to their primary focus of teaching and mentoring students.
There are many benchmarks of success that Pepperdine would measure up to, but the greatest measure of success must be the success of our students. When they go out into the world and succeed, Pepperdine succeeds. In my view, there is not greater measurement of our performance than the performance of a Pepperdine graduate. If that is the case, then by all counts, Pepperdine is doing very well.
As we go forward in the young 21st century I believe our ultimate success will be framed and measured by the extent to which we as an institution build upon and remain true to our mission as a student-centered Christian university. The fulfillment of the mission to build a world-class Christian university challenges us all in our roles as stewards of this great institution, and as the current generation entrusted with the vision expressed by George Pepperdine so many years ago.
Charlie Runnels, chancellor emeritus.
I have found Pepperdine students to be talented, articulate, service-minded, and thoughtful. When they attend conferences, meetings, or job interviews they present themselves with confidence and they engage their host with courtesy and respect. I may be old fashioned, but I believe these qualities are as important today as they have ever been.
What qualities should people expect from a Pepperdine graduate? Would you expect a grad to be ambitious and skillful, or talented and creative? Yes! Of course! But people have come to anticipate so much more. Friends of mine say that they find Pepperdine graduates to have a deep appreciation of their history and optimism for their future. They also find Pepperdine graduates to be filled with a sense of gratitude—a rare attribute in an entitled world.
I am so proud of our students. The contributions that they are making to improve this complicated and troubled world are enormous. They are leaders with the capacity and will to change things. And they are. With their Pepperdine education as a foundation, these young men and women are making a difference every day.
Over the past 40 years there has rarely been a day when I haven’t made a new friend for Pepperdine. How do I do it? I wish I could say it is my personal charm, but I know better. When I introduce people to a Pepperdine student, they see the difference for themselves and they want to learn more. “What kind of education produces a person like this?” they ask. The answer is simple: “Pepperdine.”
I have no doubt that Pepperdine will flourish if it remains true to its commitment to students. Very few universities attempt to educate the “mind and the heart”—as George Pepperdine used to say—the way Pepperdine does. As long this University keeps its focus on the student, Pepperdine will have a very bright future and the world will benefit from its product.
Keith Hinkle, vice president for advancement and public affairs and chief development officer.
A deep sense of community exists at Pepperdine. I still remember my first week of law school at Pepperdine University in 1994. I arrived in Malibu with a great sense of excitement and anticipation. Almost instantly, I felt a deep sense of community with my classmates. We were all new to one another, drawn together for friendship, success, even survival through this intense, shared experience. Many of my best friends are people I met in law school.
I felt that sense of community again the first day of work in October 2000. For me it stems from an appreciation of working with those who share my Christian worldview. We come to work each day for more than a paycheck. We don’t always agree with each other (nor do we need to), but we do share the sense as a community that we are transforming lives that will transform the world.
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel a strong sense of community with my Pepperdine family in my years away from the University. Some of it was my fault. I was busy starting a career and family, and didn’t make time for Pepperdine. But some of it was Pepperdine’s fault. It didn’t really reach out to me or help me stay engaged. I don’t even think it did a good job while I was a student, inculcating in me a desire to have a lifelong relationship with Alma Mater.
Now times have changed. President Benton has challenged the University to have the most engaged and involved alumni association in the nation by our 75th anniversary in 2012, and to build it around service to others. We have much to do, but we are on our way.
We now have over 20 alumni chapters across the nation; they are good and getting better. We have launched a new and thriving Alumni Leadership Council. We have a robust offering of alumni benefits and a new online directory (PAN Online). We are strengthening our reputation, and creating more opportunities for alumni to be involved in classes, internships, recruiting, and mentoring. We are building more rituals and traditions during the student experience. We are traveling more to share the exciting things that are happening here.
I pledge that Pepperdine will do its part to engage and excite the alumni. Our alumni deserve nothing less from the institution. My hope and prayer for all Pepperdine alumni is that they will reconsider their involvement and investment with alma mater. To all my fellow alumni, I invite you to reconnect with your Pepperdine family: attend a local chapter event, get back to campus at your next opportunity, call us and volunteer to speak to a class or be a mentor, attend a University dinner or lecture, play in one of our golf tournaments, tell a prospective student about Pepperdine, or hire a fellow Wave.
Let’s rebuild that sense of community we felt during our student years and make being a Wave a point of pride for our community.