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Listening and Taking Action

June 3, 2020

The tragic killing of George Floyd has brought into sharp focus again the need for action to eradicate racism and to right the wrongs of centuries of oppression of Black people in our nation. At Pepperdine, we have been working on this imperative on our own campuses, but there is more work to be done. We have our own lamentable history of a Black teenager, Larry Kimmons, who was killed by a campus security guard in 1969 at our original campus in Los Angeles.

Many of you are speaking up and speaking out about your own experience of racism and/or marginalization at Pepperdine, and you are calling for change. I am listening. Your voices matter to me. As I listen, I hear you say you are tired of talking, and you want to see action. I am with you. I stand with you believing all forms of racial violence or oppression are abhorrent and that we need to be agents of change.

We began listening and taking action during my first few months as president, and we are committed to continuing our important work. I am drafting a communication that will outline what we have done, what we plan to do next, and how we can keep moving toward a community that embodies our eternal values. I will share with you what I am learning and thinking and what I propose to do as president. We will release this communication on Monday, June 8, after the weekly President's Briefing that I hold with all faculty, staff, and students.

God calls us and empowers us to be instruments of justice and to actively oppose racism in every form, and especially right now against our Black brothers and sisters. Let there be no ambiguity — our community affirms and declares the dignity and intrinsic worth of each and every Black life. The lives of all of our Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and indeed, every Black life matters greatly to me. Each one of you is cherished, and I am committed to ensuring that our actions as a community reflect that truth.