News and Events
Pepperdine Mourns the Passing of President Gerald R. Ford
Pepperdine University mourns the Dec. 26 passing of Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States. President Ford, a Life Regent of Pepperdine and long-time friend of the University, had dedicated two important buildings on the Malibu campus on Sept. 20, 1975 – the Brock House and Firestone Fieldhouse. President Ford’s last visit to Pepperdine took place 28 years later in May 2003 when he and members of the University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management Board of Visitors attended a luncheon and previewed Pepperdine’s newly constructed 96,000 square foot Drescher Graduate Campus. At the luncheon, President Ford received a standing ovation following a brief address. “I think our country should be proud of the fact that we proved that free enterprise, free election opportunities, free economic systems could prevail over state-run, government-controlled nations,” he stated. “I think, instead of letting the pessimistic skeptics carry the day, we should be out carrying the torch for an America we can be proud of. I think, as we look down the road to the next generation, we should welcome the opportunity.”
President Ford was elected to Pepperdine’s Board of Regents as a voting member in 1985 and became a Life Regent in 1991. He served also as Honorary Chair of the Graziadio School’s Board of Visitors and expressed deep affection and respect for Pepperdine benefactors George and Reva Graziadio.
President Ford served his nation for 25 years in the U.S. Congress and from 1965 to 1973, he was House Minority Leader. Born in Omaha, Neb., in 1913, he grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and starred on the University of Michigan football team. He went on to Yale where he was an assistant coach while earning his law degree. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, he returned to Grand Rapids, began the practice of law, and entered Republican politics. A few weeks before his election to Congress in 1948, he married Elizabeth Bloomer and the couple raised four children: Michael, John, Steven, and Susan. Assuming the Oval Office in August 1974, following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, President Ford established several new policies despite opposition from a heavily Democratic Congress. He viewed himself as “a moderate in domestic affairs, a conservative in fiscal affairs, and a dyed-in-the-wool internationalist in foreign affairs.”
Following his passing, President Ford was lauded for his integrity, sense of fairness, and steady leadership of the nation. In Betty Ford’s official statement issued after his death, the former First Lady remarked of her husband, “His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country.”