About the Trip

Andrew K. Benton, President, Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University president Andrew K. Benton took a road trip this summer on historic U.S. Route 66 to explore what people are saying along "America's Main Street" about their nation, institutions, communities, and families.

The trip took place from July 14 to July 22, 2008 with stops in Joliet, Funks Grove, and Springfield, Illinois; Rolla and Joplin, Missouri; Riverton, Kansas; Miami, Weatherford, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Shamrock and Amarillo, Texas; Santa Fe and Grants, New Mexico; and Flagstaff and Williams, Arizona before returning to California.

Benton, the 2008 chair of the American Council on Education, says the 2,400 mile Route 66 journey is a way to connect with people along the "Mother Road" as John Steinbeck called it, "and invite them to speak about their values, hopes, and dreams."

Benton met with educators, parents, business people, and church and civic leaders along a road that is more of an outdoor museum than the vital transportation artery it once was. Nevertheless Route 66 occupies a special place in America's history and for many people driving the road from its beginning in Chicago to its end-point in Santa Monica, California is a quest, one that Benton fulfilled in 2007.

"I have been given a wonderful opportunity to serve at Pepperdine for nearly 25 years and am mid-way through my one-year term as chair of the American Council on Education," Benton says. "If I can use that vantage point to comment on what such a significant portion of America would like to say to those of us privileged to help shape the education of the world's future leaders, I will feel the journey has been productive."