News and Events
Pepperdine London House Reopens in Historic Ceremony
President Benton confers honorary
doctorate on Lady Thatcher.
When President Andrew Benton arrived at Heathrow airport in London, England to visit the newly refurbished Pepperdine University London House last month, his excitement to return to the house was tinged with an apprehension of the unknown. "Would it be too much? Would change overwhelm its original charm?" he wondered. "I confess I went into the house – a place I absolutely love – with some fear," says the president of eight years.
After months of renovation, Pepperdine's property in Knightsbridge, London officially reopened on October 30, and the two international programs that reside there are fully operational after residing temporarily in nearby Imperial College and the Oxford Hotel. This marked the first renovation of the 123-year-old building since Pepperdine purchased it 20 years ago. The $5 million project refurbished infrastructure, electrics, plumbing, and heating, as well as redecorating the facility with new furniture.
Benton, along with Charles F. Hall, dean of international programs; Rick Marrs, Seaver College dean; and Kenneth W. Starr, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of the School of Law, visited for a very special, official reopening ceremony. Special guest Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, also attended, and was presented with an honorary doctorate.
"Lady Thatcher has been front and center in the making of history and, in many respects, in shaping the free world," Benton says. "To honor her was a rare and memorable opportunity to bring her into the Pepperdine community and to say 'thank you' to her. What a privilege."
The London House is used by students of both the School of Law and Seaver College. Since 1981, the School of Law has offered its second and third-year students a six-week summer session (plus a final exam week) or full fall semester program in London, fully approved by the American Bar Association. The program for Seaver College students includes visits to museums, art galleries, libraries, houses of Parliament, and other historical and cultural sites. The central location of the London House allows students to reach London's theatres, concert halls, and shopping areas in a matter of minutes.
Like Benton, current and former students expressed fear that the character and essence of the house might be lost in renovation. Prior to his trip to London, Dean Marrs acknowledged the relevance of their concerns. "This house embodies precious memories," he said. "It is in the London House that the students create community. They make deep friendships that will last a lifetime."
Benton was very happy to report, however, that the fears of both he and the students were unwarranted. "I am so pleased to say that it was done just right. We have preserved a place of many memories and we have prepared 56 Princes Gate for her next 20 years of service," Benton says. "Our alumni and students will be proud."