News & Features
Coming Home Again:
Alumnus Ernie Maldonado Endows Research and Scholarship Fund
By Nate Ethell ('08)
As Pepperdine University opened its new Malibu campus in 1972, George Pepperdine College's original Los Angeles campus was enjoying its twilight years. Honoring the school's historic roots, the University maintained a two-campus strategy for the next decade, offering course work and degrees on the Los Angeles campus for undergraduate and graduate students. But as the multi-campus experiment progressed in the 1970s and student enrollment trends shifted, the University recognized that continuing two colleges of letters, arts, and sciences was no longer pragmatic. As a result, academic programs on the Los Angeles campus were reorganized into the School of Professional Studies (SPS), designed to draw upon the success of the business school's BSM program by offering courses for working professionals in a variety of liberal arts and professional fields. Although the short-lived school was phased out in 1981 as Pepperdine's era in Los Angeles came to a close, its impact lives on in the lives of the school's nearly 4,000 alumni.
Among these alumni is Dr. Ernest M. Maldonado (BSM '76, MP '80), now senior adjunct professor at the University of La Verne, who initially pursued a degree in public management from the Pepperdine School of Business.
"As a criminal justice employee, I qualified for federal tuition assistance under the Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP) in the 1970s. When I saw the chance to get a bachelor's degree, I grasped the opportunity," reflected Ernie. "I could have gone to a number of schools across town, as many of my colleagues did, but I chose Pepperdine instead because of the values and principles it demonstrated."
Following the completion of his bachelor's program in 1976, Ernie matriculated at SPS, finishing his master's degree in public administration in 1980. "My participation at SPS was terrific. Students in the program came from a variety of government employment backgrounds, providing an excellent learning experience. I have always been rewarded by the choice I made to attend Pepperdine."
After Pepperdine, Ernie continued his educational pursuits, completing his PhD in criminal justice from Claremont Graduate University in 1983. As the years passed, he continued to receive updates from Pepperdine, remaining intrigued by the growing success of his early alma mater. Finally, in late 2008—nearly three decades after graduating—Ernie decided to reconnect with Pepperdine. His areas of interest, especially those related to his SPS degree in public administration, led Ernie to James R. Wilburn (MBA '82), dean of the School of Public Policy, who invited him to join the Board of Visitors at the School of Public Policy in early 2009.
After nearly three years of service on the School of Public Policy's Board of Visitors, Ernie's firsthand perspective of the lives he is helping to change has inspired him to commit $125,000 to create a permanent endowed fund at Pepperdine. "Education has always played such an important part in my life," said Ernie on his decision to give. "I can't think of a greater cause than helping others who value education and who will contribute to the human condition."
The newly established Maldonado Family Endowed Fund will be used to sustain merit scholarships, student internships, faculty research, fellowships, and other programs or initiatives in the fields of intelligence, national and homeland security, and criminal justice and enforcement. "Understanding more thoroughly these fields is so critical," Ernie expressed. "I believe that we must first work to make our communities, nation, and world safe so that our efforts to improve the human condition can succeed."
As Ernie looks forward to his continuing involvement with the School of Public Policy, he is eager to see how his gift will impact the lives of students at Pepperdine. "When it comes to changing lives, giving back is the easiest part. For anyone thinking of giving to Pepperdine, listen to what is in your heart. Change will soon follow."