Interim Report on Transition Planning
TO: Pepperdine Community
FROM: Jim Gash, President-Elect
DATE: April 17, 2019
RE: Interim Report on Transition Planning
One of Pepperdine's strong and shared values is clear and frequent communication. I believe it is imperative that our community knows where we are going and how we are getting there. The next few months of transition are important for two main reasons. First, we look forward to continuing to celebrate, as we did at the wonderful Pepperdine Honors celebration in Mullin Town Square yesterday, the extraordinary leadership that Andy and Debby Benton have provided over the last 19 years. To that end, I hope you will join me on May 11 at L.A. LIVE for the 43rd annual Pepperdine Associates dinner: Celebrating the Presidency of Andrew K. Benton.
Second, we are positioning the next administration for success by getting a head start on building relationships and listening to University stakeholders. It has been one month since the transition leadership of Gary Hanson and Danny DeWalt was announced and they began assisting me in the process of navigating these exciting times at Pepperdine. Below is an update of what we are doing.
The first priority of this transition is relationship building. Starting August 1, I will begin reporting to our 40-member Board of Regents. Consequently, I have spent most of the past three weeks, and will be spending the better part of the next three weeks, traveling around the country meeting face to face with each of them. I am also working to meet with as many University leaders as possible between now and August 1 to understand the vision, hopes, and dreams of those who know and love this university.
On a parallel track, we are working with the Board of Regents and the current administration to begin the transfer of institutional knowledge. As you might imagine, we are currently processing an impressive volume of information. I hope to provide you with periodic updates to communicate the progress we are making and inform you of upcoming events. On that note, the presidential inauguration has been set for the morning of September 25, and we will begin that week with important pre-inauguration events on the evenings of September 23 and 24.
Continuity of Senior Leadership Team
The senior leadership team assembled and led by President Benton has been an invaluable source of wisdom and expertise in furtherance of Pepperdine's vision. I have met with each of them individually and asked them to continue in their leadership positions. I am pleased to report they will each remain in their vital roles. Rick Marrs will continue as provost and chief academic officer, Gary Hanson as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Jeff Pippin as senior vice president and chief investment officer, and Keith Hinkle as senior vice president and chief development officer. I am also grateful that Marnie Mitze has graciously agreed to postpone her retirement for one year and will stay on as special advisor to the president's office on a part-time basis.
Additional Strategic Appointments
As I emphasized in our town hall meetings, fundraising will play an important role in the advancement of our shared vision to be recognized as a preeminent Christian university with a global reach. I believe gift revenue will be critical to enabling the margin of excellence for our collective future. Toward that end, I would like to share with you a few exciting leadership appointments that will further enhance our fundraising efforts. I am so delighted that President Benton has agreed to serve as President Emeritus beginning August 1 and will invest his time assisting in certain critically important fundraising projects. Andy's experience and relationships will prove invaluable to these efforts.
As you can imagine, the magnitude of our fundraising goals requires a team of people who know and love Pepperdine, who are deeply connected to the friends of Pepperdine, and who have demonstrated the capacity to build significant new friendships for Pepperdine. Accordingly, I have asked Sara Young Jackson to be our chancellor beginning August 1, and I am thrilled that she has agreed. Sara has a long history with Pepperdine, including as director of student affairs, founding director of the Pepperdine Volunteer Center, founding director of the Boone Center for the Family, and creator and director of Pepperdine's Women in Leadership Institute. In 2018 she received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Seaver College. Sara is beloved by all who know her and will be the first Pepperdine graduate in our institution's history to serve as chancellor. For the past 15 years as senior vice chancellor, Sara has brought professionalism, grace, and an impressive track record of fundraising. I am honored to partner with Andy and Sara to advance our fundraising aspirations.
Our bold strategic plan "Pepperdine 2020: Boundless Horizons" was launched in 2011, and it has served us very well. One of my first objectives after I take office will be to engage our entire community in developing a University-wide, cohesive, and unifying vision and strategy to drive our decision-making dynamically over the next 10 years. This vision and strategy will include creative and substantive input from all sectors of the University to ensure we are all moving together in the same direction. To achieve our goals, we need a clear and active plan for the next decade to which we are all accountable.
Given the scope of what I intend to be an ongoing effort, I have asked Tim Perrin to join our team as senior vice president for strategic implementation, and I am deeply pleased that he has accepted this invitation and will begin this fall. Tim will work closely with me and the strategic planning team in the provost's office to create our next University strategic plan. He will also work with our skilled public affairs team as the University continues to advance its efforts in strategic marketing, which will also allow Keith to focus his time and attention on advancement. In addition, Tim will oversee our athletics and church relations teams and be active in our major gifts fundraising efforts. Tim's experience as president of Lubbock Christian University, associate provost of Pepperdine University, vice dean of the Pepperdine School of Law, and a Pepperdine faculty member for 20 years will be invaluable in carrying out these responsibilities.
I could not be more excited about the future of Pepperdine. I look forward to working with each of you, and I commit to keeping you informed throughout this transition process.