A Conversation About the Future of Pepperdine University
ANDY » I feel that every day when I wake up, I have spread before me the most remarkable buffet of things that I can do, things I can raise money for, new programs we can begin, new faculty we can hire. But one of the most important things that I do is decide which of those wonderful opportunities I’m going to pursue. So when you think about Pepperdine University, when you think about the unique qualities of this institution, what do you think we ought to emphasize going forward? What are the mountains that we should claim?
SETH HAYE alumnus, Class of 2002; Alumni Leadership Council; former staff member » One mountain I think we have the opportunity to climb has to do with community. As a student at Pepperdine, I felt like the University mastered the sense of community. You come to the school and you’re embraced. I don’t think there’s anything else like it. But I believe when we graduate, if we were to poll alumni around the country and ask them if they still felt that same level of connectivity, of value, of community and family, I don’t think they’d have that same connection. So I think forming a sense of community with alumni would be a major undertaking that would impact the entire University.
ANDY » What we hope to do, Seth, is call our alumni home through service, and I’m really excited about that. I hope we’ll never get so large that our faculty members don’t know their students by name, and that will always be a distinguishing element of this institution…Other mountains?
JOHN KATCH alumnus, Class of 1960; member, Board of Regents and Seaver Board of Visitors » One of the things that’s always struck me about Pepperdine, going back even to the days of George Pepperdine College and its inception, has been what Seth is talking about–community, connection–specifically with faculty. That interconnection as you’re going through the college years is just as important when you become an alumnus of this school. I think that idea of building the alumni connection is tremendously important for the University and for the future.
ANDY » I’ve often said, John, that when I am finished being president of Pepperdine, the thing that would make me proudest is if we could have a vibrant alumni association because that will support us, and that will drive us forward in the future more than anything else. If we could take our 80,000 alumni and harness them productively through service and through engagement with Alma Mater, it would ensure our future because those people understand us and love us, and hopefully we’ll always be a part of their lives.
Let me change direction a bit. Catherine, when you came here–now five years ago–what do you and your parents expect from your education? How did they expect you to be changed?
CATHERINE WHITTINGHILL alumna, Class of 2008; member, Alumni Leadership Council » I think my parents and I were both initially drawn to Pepperdine because it promised that it would deliver all of what so many other schools promised–academic excellence and teaching to become a successful professional person in the real world. But Pepperdine also promised that faith would shape teaching when I came here. I knew I would learn from people who knew really what my main goal in life is–to glorify God–in all of the things I’d be trying to do.
ANDY » I know your work and I know that you could have gone anywhere. Any regrets about coming to Seaver College?
CATHERINE » Not at all, and I say that with confidence. I attended an alumni gathering with a bunch of kids from my high school recently, all of whom had gone to other colleges, and very few of them were graduating on time, first of all, and then secondly they couldn’t figure out what their plans were in life. I certainly can’t pretend that I have all of mine nailed down, but I know that it’s all going to be okay and that I have been prepared to succeed professionally and also just to be happy. I feel very close to my family, which is, I think, rare at this stage in life. I feel very close to my friends. And I think that the things that enrich my personal life were fostered and encouraged here at Pepperdine as much as any other part of my person.