A Response from the Deans

Darryl Tippens, Provost

Darryl Tippens, Provost

Darryl Tippens

The longer I serve at Pepperdine the more apparent it becomes that we are engaged in a truly extraordinary calling. To cultivate the hearts, minds, and souls of students is as exhilarating as it is audacious. It is not an easy task, but it is more needed now than when we started in 1937.

Interestingly, the work of educating hearts and minds together, simultaneously, is one of the most enduring cultural projects in the Western world. It is what animated the founders of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, of Paris and Bologna. It inspired the builders of Harvard and Yale, and the hundreds of Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian institutions that have dotted the American landscape over the last two centuries.

The task of deepening faith while acquiring knowledge continues to be relevant today, though many institutions have lost their way. In the words of a former provost of Notre Dame, the leaders of Christian universities are “sensitive to the long-lived values represented by this 2,000-year-old tradition, the oldest cultural and educational heritage in the Western world; [they] sustain belief in a supreme being, which gives anchor to these values and this heritage; [they] exemplify by their lives their deep belief in the dignity of man made invaluable by Him who died for us; [they] dedicate their total selves to this endeavor; [and they] have a love for mankind, particularly students, which is sensed and acknowledged by all who come into contact with them.” Provost Burtchaell’s words from the last century succinctly summarize the Pepperdine mission in this century.

Once Pepperdine’s students graduate and begin to compare their experiences with their peers in the workplace, they often are made aware that a Pepperdine education is truly a rare experience. Sometimes it is different because of the way we teach. Sometimes it is different because of what we teach. Most often it is different because of who we are and how we view our mission.

The dignity of the student is bedrock at Pepperdine. Our desire to acquire knowledge is not an abstract ideal. Rather it is grounded in an ethos of hospitality, respect, moral commitment, and spiritual care. We are not about knowledge for its own sake, at least not primarily, but we are passionate about knowledge that is a constituent of wisdom that ultimately benefits others.

Pepperdine University is populated by three-dimensional persons who believe that heart, soul, and mind deserve respect, attention, and nurture. For us, faith and reason are as complementary as sunlight and sky, as compatible as a foundation and solid ground: “If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all,” the prophet says (Isaiah 7:9). For us, faith is the way of reason, not an impediment to it. In a time when social institutions are crumbling, when some prefer power to virtue, and greed trumps the common good, Pepperdine is an especially good place to exercise one’s mind, to get one’s bearings, and to find one’s way.

Rick Marrs, Dean—Seaver College

Rick Marrs

Rick Marrs

Seaver College continues to attract some of the brightest and most creative students in the world. Their energy and desire to make a difference in their communities and in the lives of others is matched only by the dreams and ambitions of the faculty and staff with whom they come to study. Bringing these constituencies together creates an exciting and dynamic energy.

At Seaver College, we aspire to develop and mature in our students not simply competencies and expertise in a variety of fields of study and disciplines, but also to transform lives through the inculcation of wisdom and discernment. In a world fraught with daunting challenges and changes occurring at warp speed, it is imperative that we develop in these bright students the virtue of wisdom and discernment—wisdom to understand the issues at hand and the multi-various implications of those issues, and discernment to make solid ethical decisions that will bless those impacted by the challenges presented.

Seaver College refuses to be content with educating and graduating students who simply compete well for jobs or aspire to secure futures that are comfortable and free of challenges. We aspire to educate and graduate students who have a passion for making a difference in their local communities, in their workplace, and in the larger global marketplace. We aspire to graduate student-scholars who refuse to be content with simply thinking deeply about contemporary issues; we hope to graduate students who actively engage the multitudinous social, cultural, and spiritual challenges of our day.

We ardently desire to produce students who will bring their faith to bear upon the pressing needs of our world. We work daily to assist and empower our students to bring their Christian convictions to bear upon the needs of their communities, especially manifesting a passion for those less fortunate and in need of help.

In an age of narcissism and self-absorption, Seaver College aspires to produce lifelong learners who first and foremost think of others, loving the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind…and their neighbors as themselves.

Linda Livingstone, Dean—Graziadio School of Business and Management

Linda Livingstone

Linda Livingstone

“Coming to Pepperdine was like coming to the Land of Oz. I came as the Scarecrow hoping to find my brain; when I got here I realized it was as much about Tin Man finding his heart. It completed me as a person.”

These words, from an alumnus of our Master of Science in Organizational Development (MSOD) program, describe the holistic learning experience that is a hallmark of the Graziadio School. While focusing on both personal and professional development, we seek to develop values-centered leaders and advance responsible business practice. We affirm a higher purpose for business practice than the exclusive pursuit of shareholder wealth. We believe that successful management seeks collective good along with individual profit, and is anchored in core values such as integrity, stewardship, courage, and compassion.

Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni live out this mission daily. Students in Wayne Strom’s Presidential Key Executive MBA class participate in the Civic Leadership Project, addressing issues of personal empowerment and technical competence for unemployed, but employable, homeless men and women.

Full-time MBA students initiated the Values-Centered Leadership Lab, creating opportunities to more effectively integrate responsible business practice into organizations. Mark Chun, who teaches in our Fully Employed MBA program, challenges students to “volunteer to volunteer.” Our MSOD program works regularly with NGOs in China, recently cosponsoring a conference there on promoting sustainable communities around the world.

Alumnus Bill Clausen (MBA '82) was named National Disaster Volunteer of the Year for the American Red Cross for his instrumental leadership in helping people recover. Noteworthy examples abound of Graziadio School students and alumni emerging as courageous leaders, compassionate global citizens, trusted stewards, and people of integrity—the future of business.

As we look to the future, the Graziadio School will continue this legacy of developing values-centered leaders and advancing responsible business practice. We will ensure that our curriculum is closely aligned with our mission in every program; lead in the creation, promotion, and application of ideas and concepts that generate value for business and society; establish a Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, a Center for Applied Research, and an Institute for Values-Centered Leadership and Responsible Business Practice; continue to cultivate an engaged and vibrant learning community among alumni, students, faculty, and staff; and build dedicated corporate and community partnerships to support student recruitment, career resources, and applied-learning experiences.

Through these efforts, we will continue to enhance our reputation globally for advancing knowledge and developing leaders that create value for both business and society.

Ken Starr, Dean—School of Law

Ken Starr

Ken Starr

I have the great privilege of working alongside a remarkable group of faculty colleagues who demonstrate every day the distinctive character and ethos of Pepperdine University School of Law. Professor Akhil Amar, the Southmayd Professor of Law at Yale and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the law school, has described the law school as a place of “excellence and humanity,” a description that aptly captures the uniqueness of this community.

In the world of legal education, the primary responsibility of faculty, according to conventional wisdom, is to produce books and articles. Faculty scholarship is the currency of the realm. At the law school my faculty colleagues take seriously their responsibility to be active and engaged scholars, but we continue to lift up teaching and mentoring as their primary responsibility. While many talk about the accessibility of their faculty, we seek to practice it; and we found a deep measure of satisfaction in being named Number One by the Princeton Review in the category of “Faculty Accessibility,” an affirmation of our continuing commitment to students as the heart of the educational enterprise.

Yet teaching and mentoring does not tell the whole story, as I am surrounded by faculty colleagues who are actively engaged in influential and trailblazing scholarship. Engaged scholarship sustains and enhances good teaching. In recent years the law faculty has significantly increased the quality and quantity of its scholarship, placing articles in the best law journals, publishing books with prestigious academic presses, and speaking at conferences and symposia around the world.

In the spring of 2008, the law school’s outstanding record of faculty scholarship was recognized when it was elected for membership in the Order of the Coif, the Phi Beta Kappa of law schools. We were the first law school admitted to the Order since 2004 and we gained admission on the strength of our record of scholarship—more than 185 law review articles, 35 scholarly books and book chapters, and more than 40 conferences and symposia hosted by the law school in the last seven years.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of this story is that my faculty colleagues have achieved these significant milestones despite a student-teacher ratio that is significantly higher than our peer schools and despite having heavier than typical teaching loads.

Excellence and humanity. Teaching and scholarship. Rigorous instruction and personal care. I’m forever thankful to work alongside such a committed group of faculty colleagues who serve as the living embodiment of the law school’s distinctive mission of strengthening students for lives of purpose, service, and leadership.

Margaret Weber, Dean—Graduate School of Education and Psychology

Margaret Weber

Margaret Weber

Too often the work of higher education is limited to theoretical exercises, and fails to connect with the lives of ordinary and underresourced people. The Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) believes in the scholar-practitioner model of education and is a leader in this field of making connections.

George Pepperdine emphasized this calling in his founding address: “On many occasions I have said to groups of students that I am counting on them after they graduate from Pepperdine College to multiply my work in the world. I can live only one life. I can contact only a few people. I can influence only a small number. I can do only a limited amount of good work…Therefore I am counting on you, the alumni, to live long after I am gone and continue the ever increasing waves of good citizenship and Christian influence embodied in the ideals of our college.”

The scholar-practitioner model we practice at GSEP helps our student find meaningful purpose in life and engages them in leadership development. Social purpose is put into direct practice, and students transcend their own development even as they support others. The scholar-practitioner model provides a dialectic, that vigorous conversation where scholarship informs practice and practice informs scholarship; the result of which is improved and enhanced lives of the clientele of our students.

Our new Urban Initiative—which seeks specifically to make students into scholar-practitioners who are motivated to create the connection between theory and need by becoming teachers and mental health professionals in the inner city—has been launched to enhance the opportunities for these students to better serve the under-served. The complexity of working and serving within the inner city is so great that it threatens to overwhelm those who would take up the challenge to make a difference; the Urban Initiative serves to prepare those future educators and mental health professionals called to urban communities.

We believe that God’s kingdom is made up of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, which informs the high value we place on diversity. We also believe that our work is linked to God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.” So the practice of our profession includes the work we have been engaged in for decades.

The work is set within a collaborative model of engagement impacting all human beings that will sustain supporting those with fewer resources to meet their greatest aspirations. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Jim Wilburn, Dean—School of Public Policy

Jim Wilburn

Jim Wilburn

A host of studies of organizations facing seasons of rapid growth, intellectual ferment, or environmental change reveal an almost predictable outcome: those organizations with a strong sense of core values, focused mission, and intentions that have been distilled from lively conversations and passionate commitments, not only survive storms of change, but are comfortable with and strengthened by the innovations that are demanded by altered circumstance.

As Pepperdine was made stronger by surviving rapid changes to its campus and facing national questions about the purpose of higher education, so the School of Public Policy has found a focus that is rare in academia through its passion for a new vision of public policy. Specifically, Pepperdine’s program has rediscovered the refreshing and permanent vitality that courses through civic life in state and local organizations, in nonprofit initiatives, in churches and synagogues and mosques, in families, and in the business and labor associations that have, through times of change, nourished the real strength of American society.

To be sure, graduates of the School of Public Policy have had no problem in competing for positions of influence in Washington, D.C. This year there were nine at the White House. Others hold positions of influence and responsibility in the Departments of State, Treasury, Education, Homeland Security, and in the Federal Trade Commission, while still others are writing in think tanks and stewarding the interpretations of the courts, crafting a message heard by millions.

But just as importantly, others have founded their own nonprofit citizen-led organizations to work with gang members in Philadelphia, to launch two dozen clinics for AIDS sufferers in Africa, to bring electricity to schools and orphanages in the Republic of Georgia, or to work with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh to provide microloans to women in Asia.

The 21st century will experience dangers and opportunities that no one can predict or avoid. But graduates of the School of Public Policy will be uniquely, intentionally, and carefully prepared with a core of faith, and a heart of concern that thrives on change, energizing a new model for others to follow. The school is fortuitously prepared for each moment, nourishing roots in ancient wisdom and ageless faith and thus providing students with wings actually buoyed higher by winds of change.

This will be its role because a foundation that is intact actually thrives on change, recognizing ways to leverage the most unexpected uncertainties as opportunities to extend personal liberty and to focus the human spirit—which is the point in history where one may, when the cross currents of time and space coalesce just right, most often discover that we are in the image of God.