Pepperdine People Magazine
Pepperdine People Magazine Spring 2005
The Indomitable Professor
By Lynn Klodt
So, you want to talk to U.S. Constitution expert Gordon Lloyd? Give him some elbow room.
He throws himself into any subject with the enthusiasm and energy of someone half his age. You don't even need to be talking about any School of Public Policy (SPP) classes that Lloyd teaches. He quite simply has a gusto for life and learning.
Take, for example, how history can come alive and be pertinent and applicable. "When students go back to history with an attitude of inquisitiveness and curiosity – not arrogance and criticism – then they will see the beauty and excitement of our past!" says Lloyd, engaging you with laser-beam clarity, thought, and conviction.
To talk to Lloyd is to be drawn into his passion for a wide variety of topics, such as the merits of democracy at 1787's Constitutional Convention and his American hero, James Madison, or the loss of fair and honorable play in cricket where "everything today is allowed if you don't get caught," laments Lloyd.
He shares the strong sense of ethics and the Christian mission that continue to define Pepperdine University. "The ethical, spiritual approach is extremely important when teaching public policy," emphasizes Lloyd. Both factors influenced him to accept Dean James Wilburn's invitation to become the first SPP faculty member.
And Dean Wilburn calls it "a perfect fit for our unique mission."
"Yes, Dr. Lloyd does have a wealth of experience and depth of knowledge," recalls Dean Wilburn of his first impressions of the professor. "But, beyond that, his reputation as an expert scholar on the Constitution, the founding, and the crises of our nation's experiment in representative government has attracted the attention and respect of a wide audience of senior scholars worldwide."
"No one has had a greater influence on the direction of the School of Public Policy than Dr. Gordon Lloyd," says Wilburn who designed and launched the new graduate school in 1997. Since then, the dean has seen many of Lloyd's SPP students already make their mark in doctoral program and significant positions of policy leadership.
The real payback for Lloyd is seeing the growth between his first- and second-year public policy students, and rejuvenation among burned-out high school teachers he instructs at the Bill of Rights Institute at Mount Vernon. In fact, helping school teachers at all student levels (K-college) teach the roots of the American order has become the genesis of Lloyd's most global and personally rewarding work: the Web site http://www.teachingamericanhistory.org/convention/.
Launched in early 2004, Lloyd created this valuable teaching aid in conjunction with the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University in Ohio. Funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant, the site includes two interactive features and is the most comprehensive Web site on the Constitutional Convention in the nation.
But this native of Wales, U.K., doesn't stop there. Lloyd is on the brink of unveiling yet another Web site that will provide high school teachers of the U.S. Constitution with actual lesson plans. Under contract by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ashbrook Center, Lloyd will be including an interactive map of counties in states that ratified the original Constitution. By clicking on a county, one can see which politicians voted, how they voted, and what they said.
The professor has tapped a few of his bright SPP students for key help with the technological details. "For example, I'm not comfortable with creating pop-ups, so I've been working one-on-one with two students. It's a collaborative work that's an extremely valuable experience for each of us!" says Lloyd with his signature zeal.
Another collaborative area with Pepperdine roots is coauthoring editorials with SPP colleague David Davenport. What began innocently with Lloyd posing a question at a faculty meeting has resulted in fourteen editorials in the last eighteen months. Here's how it works: Lloyd takes a current event, applies a historical concept, fleshes out about three main bullet points, and hands it over to Davenport to do the "wordsmithing".
"David is an incredibly good connector, not only with people but also with phrases and words," says Lloyd. "It's like, I write the lyrics and David writes the music!"
And there's another very enjoyable meeting of the minds that Lloyd looks forward to each month. Over dinner and deep discussion, the Rev. Msgr. John Sheridan, pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Malibu Church, and Lloyd might tackle how the United States can best engage in domestic and foreign relations; or how the nation's leaders can use their way of thinking and relating to influence other nations.
When asking either Lloyd or monsignor what they think of each other, it becomes a mutual admiration society.
"Imagine God walking in the flesh!" exudes the professor of his eighty-nine-year-old friend whom he considers his spiritual anchor. "He is so down to earth."
From the monsignor flow only words of respect, spoken with an Irish brogue. "Gordon is so good for the School of Public Policy. He can get people to think deeper." He knows Lloyd well and considers him a man of flawless character and great integrity, transparent and yet private.
They share their personal political opinions with each other, but Lloyd is careful not to express them in the classroom, according to SPP first-year graduate student Hanna Gershfeld. "He's very knowledgeable and very passionate about the class material. And he does move around the classroom a lot," Gershfeld adds with a hint of understatement. Lloyd demands a lot from his students, says Gershfeld, but at least the material is easier to understand when delivered with Lloyd's British sense of humor.
With a knowing smile, Lloyd unleashes a little of this humor as he describes a student's first year of graduate school. "It's like boot camp! Here they are, shifting from being an undergrad to a graduate school experience," he explains. "They come in cocky. They're 21 to 23 years old. They've conquered undergraduate school, and they're like, 'Bring it on!' Then, the mid-term comes. And they say, 'OH MY GOODNESS'." But, Lloyd reassures, they soon move on, from being cocky to hesitant, humble to growing, picking up speed by the end of the second semester.
The Malibu resident has witnessed this process over decades in his front-row seat as a University faculty member. The last thirty-five years he has specifically taught public policy. But Lloyd came very close to specializing in economics, changing direction at the last minute. He had his bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Montreal's McGill University and moved to the University of Chicago, completing all coursework for both master's and Ph.D. degrees in economics. That's when Lloyd made a radical decision that he doesn't regret. He chose Claremont Graduate School in Southern California and victoriously completed his master's and doctoral degrees in government. It's hard to imagine Lloyd enjoying any curriculum more than public policy.
A few of the professor's many teaching, research, and leadership honors and achievements include the John M. Olin Professor of Public Policy, honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa, and Distinguished Visiting Scholar for the Scholarship Leadership Enrichment Program at the University of Oklahoma. All this from a scholar who's never been a student in an American history class.
That fact has a lot to do with Lloyd's childhood education. Born in Great Britain, Lloyd and his parents were transferred along with three hundred other families by their employer, a British oil company, to an oil refinery camp in Trinidad, West Indies. Lloyd spent his childhood there, receiving an extraordinary education from the camp's private school that taught in the manner of Oxford and Cambridge instruction, including six years of Latin and five in French and English literature. That is where he originally met his fiancé, Angela, having reconnected with her four years ago.
Lloyd is so grateful that his 87-year-old "mum" put such emphasis in those early years on his education. He considers his love for sports and jazz music a gift from his father. Together, these parents taught their only child to value a sense of humor, and to not take himself too seriously.
With dual citizenships, the professor is free to travel often to Wales for extended visits with family and friends. He enjoys the luxury of time to think and relax at his second home in a small British village, producing what he considers his best original thinking.
A member of the 100,000-mile club, Lloyd not only jets to the United Kingdom a few times each year, but to Chicago where son, Neil, practices law and lives with his wife and two young children. There's also travel to participate several times annually in Liberty Fund colloquiums. Lloyd eagerly anticipates these two-day conferences because they challenge him. For this professor, that's what it's about – new ideas, new ways to think about things.
"Alexis de Tocqueville teaches me something every single day. The same with James Madison. . . and I can't wait to teach the opinions of Plato and the theology of Thomas Aquinas again. . ." Exhilarated, the blue-eyed professor barely takes a breath before embracing that prospect.
Don't get him started.