A Conversation About the Future of Pepperdine University
Measures of success
ANDY » Steve, I want to ask kind of an unusual question. You’re a successful businessman. I work in a setting where sometimes success is hard to measure. You can do it based upon getting into graduate school or professional school or how many graduates are employed. How do you think I should measure success in my work? What should success look like for the professorate and for the administration of Pepperdine University? How should we measure whether or not we’re doing a good job?
STEVE LEHMAN member, University Board » I think by virtue of the students that you are turning into productive members of society. It really starts, Andy, with you as the leader, as the foundation of the University, and I believe that the message that you send is positive in so many areas. There is–fortunately or unfortunately–a measurement to success in the hierarchies of universities, and I think some of those are subjective, and others maybe not so. But the professors that you bring to this institution set the tone for what we now see as one of the most successful universities in the country on many different levels.
ANDY » Robert, you’re very involved with us. When you think about the future of a place like Pepperdine University, what does success look like to you?
ROBERT KATCH alumnus, Classes of 1984 and 1991; member, Alumni Leadership Council and Seaver Board of Visitors; former staff member » My wife Loretta and I have sponsored seven students over the past few years and they’re wonderful human beings. We’ve heard people in the past talk about their students who have graduated from Pepperdine, and some of the wonderful things that they’ve done, so we all kind of dream through our students.
ANDY » Donna, I was out on the recruiting trail for new students in Denver and I met a young man named Cameron. His sister is already here. It’s a remarkable family: eight children, a ninth on the way, and they’re all homeschooled. Cameron’s a special young man. I said, “Cameron, where are you in your decision about coming to Pepperdine University?’ And he said, “Well, I’ve got it down to Harvard or Seaver.” And he chose Seaver. You’re going to give him a great education; I know that. But what would success look like for a young man like Cameron, for whom the sky is the limit?
DONNA » Cameron is absolutely fantastic, curious and bright. I feel like my responsibility is to keep that flame going and then fan it and get those flames out of control where they’re curious, and they’re excited, and they know how to use the gifts that they’ve been given, and then provide them opportunities to use it now. I think too often we think of the future, which is very important, but they’re living their lives now.
So in terms of Cameron and students like him, like all those students out there, I need to help them–teach them to be intentional, think about what they want out of life, not just in terms of a job, but what type of person do they want to be. What type of life do you want to live? And then, what type of job will allow you to be that person you want to be? What type of job will help you live that life you want to live? And then that’s thinking more holistically.
Another thing: students like Cameron are so capable of so much, and if I just teach straight lecture, then we’re not teaching these students. We’re teaching these students to be compartmentalized thinkers, where they don’t integrate what they’re learning in the different classes together. Have them bring what they learn in their religion class, their philosophy class, their humanities class, and bring it into my science classroom. Let’s see if it fits together. How does what they’re learning in the science class enrich what they’re learning in their art class? It all can go together, and it all can be cohesive in helping them develop their worldview and their opinion of themselves and of the world and of God.
I think Pepperdine’s a perfect place for it because I’m not required to artificially compartmentalize my faith with my academic subjects; that’s not the way the world works. We’re there to help mentor them and guide them and help them own their own faith and their own worldview and their own vision of what they want to be.