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Rick Marrs to Conclude Appointment as Provost at Close of 2020–2021 Academic Year

September 1, 2020

I shared with the University community immediately following my selection as president that continuity planning was among my highest priorities, and I began making preparations with then-President Benton for the transition in University leadership. One of my very first steps was to seek the counsel of provost Rick Marrs and to ask him to continue to serve on Pepperdine's senior leadership team as chief academic officer during the transition. I was thrilled that he immediately agreed to do so. Last month, I asked Dr. Marrs if he would delay his well-earned sabbatical and stay for one more year after serving for six years as our provost, six years as the dean of Seaver College, and 19 years on the Seaver faculty—seven of which were as divisional dean of the Religion and Philosophy Division—to help us navigate these unprecedented times. Once again he has graciously agreed to do so.

Accordingly, I'm writing today to announce that Dr. Rick Marrs, our esteemed colleague and trusted friend, will conclude his phenomenal tenure as provost and chief academic officer of Pepperdine University at the conclusion of the 2020–2021 academic year. His wisdom, compassion, and experience have assisted me greatly in the past year, and I am deeply grateful that he will continue to serve in the months ahead as we finalize and launch our new University strategic plan.

Currently beginning his seventh year in the role, Rick began his tenure as provost of Pepperdine University on August 1, 2014. As chief academic officer, he has been responsible for the administration, coordination, and development of all academic activities and functions of the University, including issues of academic planning, program development, assessment, and the advancement of scholarship. Among his many impressive contributions to Pepperdine's academic enterprise, he led the search and hiring for the current deans of all five schools, each of which has increased its academic quality and reputation, and 258 full-time faculty have been hired during his time as provost.

Rick has given an extraordinary 33 years to Pepperdine so far. Prior to becoming provost, Rick served as the dean of Seaver College from 2008 to 2014 where he helped develop and implement the successful "Growing Seaver" initiative. Under his guidance, Seaver College saw historic increases in applications, expansion of academic programs, and enrichment of student life on campus. His leadership and vision as provost of the University and dean of Seaver College have made an indelible mark on the reputation and excellence of Pepperdine University. His heroic investment in Pepperdine of his time, talent, heart, and passion for educating young leaders cannot be overstated.

His scholarly expertise is also enviable. Rick has been a member of Seaver's Religion and Philosophy Division faculty since 1987 and served as the Blanche E. Seaver Professor of Religion from 2001 to 2006. He continues to be regarded as an exceptional scholar of the Old Testament and the literature of the ancient Near East with knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Phoenician, and Ugaritic, and in the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls. With the conclusion of his distinguished service as provost and following his sabbatical, Rick will return to the faculty of the Religion and Philosophy Division.

In preparation for Rick's transition, Pepperdine will begin a nationwide search to identify his successor. We will soon engage an executive search firm, and an internal search committee will be appointed in the coming weeks. I sincerely appreciate Rick's continued leadership in this new year to ensure a smooth and effective transition. I will have more to say about the search process in the coming months.

It has been a great honor and sincere privilege to serve alongside Rick during this past year. Please join me in expressing our deep appreciation to Dr. Rick Marrs for his venerable years of service as provost and wishing him well as he returns to his first love of teaching and scholarship at Pepperdine.