News and Events
George Pepperdine Statue and "Barney's Bench" Dedicated on Malibu Campus
Students Greg Lee and Genna Jones unveil
the new memorial.
Surrounded by friends, faculty, alumni, and staff, the founder of Pepperdine University, George Pepperdine, was given a warm welcome in his new permanent position at the University: overlooking the Mullin Town Square fountain in the middle of the Malibu campus. A bronzed statue of Pepperdine was dedicated on Wednesday, Jan. 13, along with the bench he sits atop, lovingly named "Barney's Bench," in honor of alumnus and football star Barney Barnhart (B '50, GPC).
Click on the thumbnails below to view a slideshow of images of the George Pepperdine statue and "Barney's Bench" from start to finish.
"It's a homecoming," said Jerry Rushford, director of Church Relations and professor of religion at Pepperdine University, who welcomed guests to the mid-day dedication. Rushford noted the significance of the placement of Pepperdine atop a bench celebrating one of his students. "It symbolizes the connectedness of a founder and his faith, and the end product: the students."
David Baird, Seaver College dean emeritus, also spoke at the occasion, expounding on the history of the University. "It's hard to believe that 75 years have passed and we are just now having a physical memory of our founder, George Pepperdine, here on campus," Baird said.
Barney Barnhart (B '50, GPC)
Baird also spoke fondly of Barnhart, a beloved figure on campus, both as a student athlete at George Pepperdine College and an alumnus of the University. "Barney was a wonderful gentleman—an educator and a churchman. After he retired, he never failed to drive all the way to Pepperdine from Long Beach to work with student ambassadors among many other programs. And he never failed to wear his 'Waves Orange' socks. He was a wonderful and perfect example of what an alumnus is supposed to be," Baird said.
Barnhart played halfback on the legendary national championship gridiron team of 1947, and married his college sweetheart, Jane, the day after her graduation from George Pepperdine College in 1951. Barnhart passed away in 2007, and right up until the end of a very full life, he traveled every Wednesday morning to attend meetings of the Pepperdine Ambassadors Council (PAC), providing guidance, inspiration, and perspective to Seaver College’s elite service organization.
Jane Barnhart was in attendance at the dedication, and accepted a plaque in honor of her late husband from President Andrew K. Benton. Benton commented, "Barney was one of my all-time favorite people. It's amazing to think of how many students he met and greeted to campus with his strong, former Marine handshake."
The new statue against a backdrop of Stauffer
Chapel and the Pacific Ocean.
The sculptor of the statue, Christopher Slatoff, was also in attendance at the event. Slatoff is the current sculpture chairman of the California Art Club, and known for his life-size public art pieces that include “Sheltering Wings,” that was commissioned by the Port District of San Diego and is installed on Coronado Island. He is also the official sculptor of the Via Dolorosa Society.
"Any time I put a sculpture somewhere, all of the sudden I’m not a visitor. I'm part of Malibu now," Slatoff said. "It's been an incredible process."
"I expect the memorial to be the most photographed spot on campus," Baird predicts. "With George Pepperdine in the foreground, the chapel in the background, and the cross on top, I don't think there could be a better view on campus."
By Audra Quinn