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Next Steps at Pepperdine

June 8, 2020

Live as children of light—
for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.
Ephesians 5:8-9

Pepperdine University will immediately engage in a collaborative process to expand our ongoing efforts to address all forms of racial injustice and inequity, especially against our Black brothers and sisters. Together we will continue to work to build a diverse, informed, loving, and unified community that becomes a light of racial unity to the world.


Even before my inauguration 10 months ago, I started meeting with faculty, staff, students, and alumni. My goal was to listen. I wanted to know the stories of those in our Pepperdine community—especially those whose life stories are very different from mine—so that I could start to see the world through their eyes. While leading Pepperdine's global justice work in the developing world over most of the past decade, I learned that thinking shifts and understanding emerges when we know someone's story.

As president, I began a series of both large and small dinner conversations with a diverse group of student leaders at Seaver College representing various student groups to begin discussing how we can bring our community together. We continued these gatherings until the pandemic hit. When we are back together and permitted to meet, these conversations will be extended to each of the graduate schools, as well.

Chief Diversity Officer

In January of this year, I proposed to the Steering Team, which consists of 21 leaders of major University areas who work directly with me to advise me and guide the University, that we add a full-time Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) to the Steering Team. This proposal was endorsed unanimously and enthusiastically, and we began the process of researching and contemplating a job description and a search process. The onset of the global pandemic necessitated a temporary delay in our progress toward this important next step. As the country and the University begin to reopen, we will continue to move this process forward thoughtfully and in collaboration with faculty, staff, and students.

Presidential Action Advisory Team

In the meantime, a Presidential Action Advisory Team will be formed to advise me and to work with the University Diversity Council and each of the existing diversity councils already in place to focus our attention, energy, and resources on strengthening our ongoing efforts to build and model a diverse, informed, loving, and unified community at Pepperdine. Pepperdine's calling is to lead as an institution and to send our students out as leaders in the world. As we seek to lead and to influence society on these issues with credibility, we must first ensure that our own house is in order.

I invite all of you into this process. If you wish to submit names of people in our community you believe would serve well on this action advisory team, or if you have ideas you would like the team to consider, please submit them using the Presidential Action Advisory Team recommendation form. We have received many excellent ideas already, but the door for ideas will always remain open.


Over the past two weeks, University leaders engaged in numerous conversations that have generated many excellent ideas, proposals, recommendations, and suggestions covering a wide range of topics including admissions, scholarships, hiring, curricula, educational programming, and many more. Together, in collaboration with our whole community, including those who have been working on these issues over the years, we will more fully develop a plan of action with immediate, intermediate, and long-term goals, objectives, and metrics.


We will only succeed in strengthening the Pepperdine community if we trust each other. As president, I intend to earn your trust by working side by side with you to produce real change, one day and one decision at a time. I trust the Steering Team, and all their respective teams, to take action to fulfill this vision. I also trust you, and I invite you to work with us. We are brothers and sisters created by God, who designed us to live in true community. When we do this, when we stand up and lead together in humility, compassion, and resolve, our light will shine and reach the world with a message of hope, truth, justice, and love.


Listening and Taking Action
Statement on the Death of George Floyd