News and Events
On Founder's Day 2012, Wednesday, September 19, a statuesque little girl—about age 2, sporting her signature towel and seeming to rise refreshed from a dip in the nearby Pacific—appeared on the Malibu campus in Adamson Plaza to the delight of many longtime admirers, acting as if the place were made just for her. And it was, of course.
She is the antithesis of the archetypal Malibu babe, short, stout, pudgy limbed, but enviably light on her feet, ever photogenic, and able to hold a demure pose for hours. Her alabaster skin never tans, but she will never need a lift, a tuck, botox, or other "work," because she is the time-tested, perfect little package for capturing the hearts of generations of Pepperdine Waves just as she is.
Her name is Dolores, singularly named and as unique Madonna, Prince, or sometime Malibu neighbor Cher. She made her first appearance at George Pepperdine College in South Los Angeles in 1941, appearing in her breakout role as the guardian angel-cherub of the fledgling Christian college, perched atop the central fountain in the middle of campus.
To understand Dolores' place in the Pepperdine psyche, one must get into his or her head Dolores' central location on the Los Angeles campus, overseeing and offering her gentle presence to all activities and all persons walking about the tiny college, with a student body no larger than a small-town high school, where everybody knew everybody. If you took a picture on campus, there was a good chance she was in it as well.
Dolores was witness to all the intramural sports played by energetic young men displaying their physical skill and prowess on the quad. Around her fountain on Tuesday nights, students, faculty, and staff would gather to raise their voices in song; and "fifth-quarter" celebrations following athletic events were staged or organized there as well.
In her omnipresent witness, she functioned rather like the college's Venus de Milo, encouraging young coeds getting their first kisses amid the towering sentinel palms that lined her court, and spying upon couples getting pinned. A tradition arose within the Sub-T fraternity that whenever any of their brothers got engaged, they would prop a ladder to a second-floor window of the women's dorm, and the lucky fellow would ascend to meet his intended, while his cohort serenaded them with their signature tune "Sub-T Rose." After the brief and chaste assignation, the brothers would escort him to Dolores' fountain and properly dunk him under Dolores' watchful eyes, presumably to then cool his ardor to an acceptable temperature.
Dolores also has had her playful turn as Pepperdine's Queen of Misrule, inspiring minor hooliganism, being frequently subjected to decoration, outrageous dress, and even body painting. One would not expect a girl of her stature to ever leave her post, but she would disappear from campus at times, kidnapped at the nefarious hands of athletic rivals like Loyola, but she would always return, ever loyal and ever watchful. One 1957 alumnus, who shall remain unnamed, confides that the Waves gave out as good as they got in this fashion, having once "decorated" Tommy Trojan himself and hosted the UCLA Bruin in his dorm room until President Tiner ordered it returned.
True of any campus legend, rumors abound, most unconfirmed, about who she is. Some believe she bears the likeness of one of the children of the college's first professors. It is said she was named for the Frank Loesser song of the same name, sung by Frank Sinatra in 1941. There is some speculation that when she last disappeared, sometime after her initial relocation to the Malibu campus in the early 1980s, that it was in fact an "inside job." However, once Malibu was her home, she had been relegated to being encased behind glass, becoming a mere relic or a museum piece—perhaps the free, outdoor spirit made a break for it? It is her mystery, this girl who goes back to Raymond Chandler's tough and mean-streeted L.A., that intrigues and captivates her admirers.
In honor of Pepperdine's 75th year, the campus guardian and queen, Dolores, has once again returned to Pepperdine, set upon a quatrefoil throne surrounded by sustainable landscaping recalling the L.A. fountain, just outside of Tyler Campus Center. In a brief afternoon ceremony, Seaver College director of alumni affairs Matt Ebeling ('99) introduced Dolores to the assembled crowd as "one of Pepperdine's most historic treasures." A delightful retelling of the Dolores legend was then spun by University archivist and librarian Melissa Nykanen. A new Dolores, glowing bright in the midday sun was unveiled by two representatives of the current Seaver student body, joined by George Pepperdine College alumni Allie Tegner ('47, MA '68) and School of Law professor James McGoldrick ('66), one of the team who transported her to Malibu in 1982. President Benton officially welcomed her to her role of "calling alumni home to Alma Mater."
Dolores joins no less personages than George L. Graziadio, founder George Pepperdine, and Christopher Columbus, along with assorted bronze herons and frogs, out in the bright Malibu sun to preside once again over Pepperdine college life. Welcome back Dolores, our Campus Queen, and long may you stay put, but only time will tell.