Message from the Chair

Edwin L. Biggers

Edwin L. Biggers

When historians eventually write the chapter on the financial crisis of 2008, there will be a tremendous debate over which events or practices triggered the meltdown. One thing they will agree upon: This crisis has touched virtually everyone in the country and much, if not most, of the world.

Like so many institutions, Pepperdine has been hit hard by the freeze of the credit market and the collapse of the stock market. Students who depend on loans to pay for tuition and books find that they have few options. Our endowment, which provides scholarships for such students, has sustained significant losses. Many in higher educations have called it the “perfect storm”.

If this metaphor applies, then it is a storm that Pepperdine is prepared to weather. Thanks to years of steady, conservative leadership provided by President Benton and his administration, Pepperdine has minimized its exposure to the fury of this financial event. The loss to the endowment is painful, but not devastating. I am confident that our aggressive plans to advance the mission of the University will not be deterred.

This is not an attempt to understate the challenges that are before us. Prior to the financial crisis, Pepperdine was already stretched by its ambitions to compete with the nation’s leading universities. This is an especially difficult challenge since Pepperdine is a much more dependent upon a steady flow of revenue generated by full enrollment than are other universities. No one knows what to expect in the coming months; but it is clear that we need to continue with our plans to build the endowment so that our mission is not at risk.

Even with this current fiscal crisis, you will see in the pages of this report that Pepperdine has had a very strong year. You will read about the good work that our faculty, students, and alumni are doing around the globe and you will see that Pepperdine is changing the world one student at a time.

Very few Universities combine scholarship and teaching with an exploration of faith and reason like Pepperdine. This combination is producing competent students with the capacity to think creatively and to act upon convictions based upon Christian values. As the chair of the Board of Regents, I have no greater responsibility than to see that Pepperdine remain faithful to its mission. The world needs Pepperdine graduates more than ever.

Again, I commend President Benton for his balanced approach to management and his vision for Pepperdine’s future. Though he may be proud of all that has been accomplished over the past several years, he is not satisfied. In truth, none of us are. As good as Pepperdine is, a better Pepperdine lies ahead.