Sara Young Jackson
Sara Young Jackson ('74) is the chancellor of Pepperdine University.
As chancellor, Jackson leads major initiatives to help strengthen the University's endowment while cultivating meaningful relationships to extend Pepperdine's reach throughout Southern California and around the globe. The chancellor is also a member of the University's senior leadership team and serves as an important advisor to President James A. Gash (JD '93).
A lifelong member of the Pepperdine community and Churches of Christ, Jackson received her first introduction to the University when her father, M. Norvel Young, became its third president in 1957. Throughout the following four decades, the Youngs cultivated the growth of the University, playing instrumental roles in the development of the student body and the move from Pepperdine's original campus location in South Los Angeles to the nationally recognized location in Malibu.
Jackson has continually served Pepperdine University in key leadership roles since 1979. She began her decades-long career at Pepperdine as the assistant director of student life and soon advanced to the director position. Under the leadership of President David Davenport in the late 1980s, she worked with student leaders to design and launch the Pepperdine Volunteer Center, a center where students, staff, and faculty members live out the University mission by engaging in service opportunities and building lasting partnerships within the community. In her role as founding director, Jackson developed the managing board and launched the earliest campus-wide volunteer programs.
Harnessing her background in marriage and family therapy and passion for strengthening families, Jackson collaborated with faculty at the Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology to establish the Center for the Family, later named for Pat and Shirley Boone, and serve as its executive director. Jackson played a fundamental part in program development, fundraising, and seminar instruction until 2004, when she assumed a key development role for the University as vice chancellor.
In partnership with the University's human resources department and Center for Women in Leadership, Jackson also launched the Women in Leadership Institute at Pepperdine, a development program that nurtures the career and spiritual development of young women leaders through mentorship and fellowship.
As the University's senior vice chancellor, Jackson successfully promoted and advanced Pepperdine initiatives through major-gift fundraising. During her years as a member of the University Board of Regents, Jackson served as the board's liaison for the student life committee. She also managed the Seaver College Board of Visitors.
Jackson holds a bachelor's degree in English from Seaver College and was the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Alumnus Award. She also holds a master's degree in theology with an emphasis in marriage and family counseling from Fuller Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Sam ('75, EdD '84), are the parents of Jessica ('09), Joseph, and Madeline ('13).