Facebook pixel Animating Convictions | 2030 Strategic Plan | Pepperdine University Skip to main content
Pepperdine University
hike to the cross

Animating Convictions

The University's Animating Convictions grow out of Pepperdine's affirmation statement, which is a profound declaration of our core DNA. The Animating Convictions freshly articulate these enduring values, beliefs, and ideals to inspire the University in our quest to become a preeminent, global, Christian university. They ground the strategic objectives and goals set forth in the strategic plan.


As a Christian university Pepperdine affirms:

That God is

That God is revealed uniquely in Christ

That the educational process may not, with impunity, be divorced from the divine process

That the student, as a person of infinite dignity, is the heart of the educational enterprise

That the quality of student life is a valid concern of the University

That truth, having nothing to fear from investigation, should be pursued relentlessly in every discipline

That spiritual commitment, tolerating no excuse for mediocrity, demands the highest standards of academic excellence

That freedom, whether spiritual, intellectual, or economic, is indivisible

That knowledge calls, ultimately, for a life of service


Conviction One:

We Affirm That All Things Hold Together in Christ

Pepperdine University affirms its fidelity to God's Word, which shows that God is revealed uniquely in Christ and that in Him “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). We celebrate the unity and coherence of God's creation, which not only invites our exploration and discovery, but also calls us to seek and to embody the unity and wholeness we find in Christ. As a diverse community of learners and scholars who come from many faith traditions, perspectives, and backgrounds, together we seek to foster a community of belonging where every member is welcomed and valued; together, we critically and creatively seek to deepen our understanding of the world and our place in it; together, we seek to lead with courage, integrity, and humility; together, we seek justice, peace, and reconciliation, with the knowledge that God, in Christ, is reconciling all things to Himself.

This first Animating Conviction is central to Pepperdine's identity as a Christian university and helps to frame the University's pursuit of excellence in all things. As reflected in the University's affirmations, we believe that our faculty, staff, and students are people of infinite worth; there is deep connection between the educational process and the divine process; truth is worthy of pursuit in every field; spiritual commitment demands academic excellence; freedom is indivisible; and knowledge calls, ultimately, for a life of service.

Conviction Two:

We Have an Unyielding Commitment to the Relentless Pursuit of Both Academic Excellence and Christian Faith and Values

Pepperdine is grounded in its commitment to both the highest standards of academic excellence and to Christian faith and values. The University recognizes the divine connection between faith and scholarship, convinced that they are compatible, and indeed, complementary. As the University affirms, “spiritual commitment, tolerating no excuse for mediocrity, demands the highest standards of academic excellence” and “truth, having nothing to fear from investigation, should be pursued relentlessly in every discipline.” In this, Pepperdine participates in a rich tradition of Christian scholarship, initiated by Augustine of Hippo and clearly defined by Anselm of Canterbury as “faith seeking understanding.”

Pepperdine's pursuit of both academic excellence and Christian faith and values reflects an invigorating and complex challenge—“both/and” rather than “either/or.” Meeting this challenge requires discipline, courage, creativity, conviction, and humility and leads to resilience. In his inaugural address, President Gash reminded the Pepperdine community of this vital distinctive, stating that as a Christian university, we “invite and welcome the world to our open table,” and we “invite both worship and wonder, both faith and intellectual inquiry. . . . It is precisely our Christian faith commitment that compels us to both engage the world and love the world.”

Conviction Three:

We Will Lead with Courage, Integrity, and Humility

Pepperdine embraces the call to leadership as an act of faithful stewardship of its resources and opportunities. Such leadership requires courage, integrity, and humility; it is discerning and wise; it does what is right even when it is the more difficult path; it seeks always the way of faith, hope, and love.

The University's mission is to strengthen students for lives of purpose, service, and leadership, and our vision calls the University to prepare graduates to lead purposeful lives as servant-minded leaders throughout the world. Thus, this conviction brings together the three core values of the University—purpose, service, and leadership—and reminds us that leadership is ultimately a call to humility and to service. We are inspired by the example of sacrificial love so perfectly embodied in Jesus who came to earth to serve and not to be served (Mark 10:45).

Pepperdine's leadership—the Board of Regents, the University administration, and the faculty leadership—will forge a cohesive and unified team built on a foundation of love and trust that is aligned on mission, vision, and strategy. This alignment will foster courageous decision-making, inspire new possibilities and heights of success, and position Pepperdine for global leadership in higher education. The University already enjoys a significant global presence through its international campuses and programs, its many international students who pursue Pepperdine degrees, and its growing alumni community around the world. The University will continue to strategically prioritize global opportunities, providing transformative educational experiences for students that broaden their horizons and deepen their perspectives.

Just as Pepperdine will lead to strengthen the University globally, it will also seek to lead locally. In a world where knowledge is fragmented, where scholarship is specialized, and where academic conversation has become fraught, Pepperdine faculty, guided by principles of humility and service, will lead the way in pursuing integrative scholarship, especially at the intersection of faith and learning. Pepperdine will be a place that embraces intellectual and cultural diversity and models ways to evaluate and discuss complex and difficult issues in a respectful and meaningful manner. Furthermore, in a world where young people especially experience an increasing sense of alienation and despair, Pepperdine will provide leadership to create programs that foster resilience and wellness among its faculty, staff, and students to reinforce their sense of wholeness—mind, body, and spirit.

Conviction Four:

We Will Strengthen Our Shared Sense of Belonging and Celebrate God's Diversity

Pepperdine will build a culture of belonging that reflects our diverse community and affirms that every person is made in God's image and is infinitely valued, respected, and welcomed. The University's commitment to belonging, both deep and wide, grounds our strategic objectives and goals, and extends to all programs, schools, and departments.

We affirm and believe that God created us to live in community together where diversity is celebrated as created and ordained by God. We envision our university as a place where each person is welcomed, valued, and included as a full contributor to the community, where each person's voice is heard, and where each person is free and equipped to thrive and live into the fullness of who God created them to be. We will practice radical hospitality—as modeled by Jesus—working together to create, cultivate, and sustain a stronger community of grace, justice, truth, and love, a community that achieves unity and authentic connection through appreciating each other as God's creation. We are committed to talking to each other, to listening to each other, and to learning from each other in all humility and respect. We are committed to building a community of belonging where every person is loved, supported, and respected without regard to the person's race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, age, or physical ability or any other practice that devalues another person. This conviction flows directly out of our Christian mission and our calling to love our neighbors as ourselves. As the apostle Paul writes: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV).

As a university, we relentlessly pursue the truth, but we also recognize that we are fallible and that our understanding is imperfect. As the University Diversity Council's statement says: “We strive toward academic excellence and a shared sense of belonging with the understanding that a broad range of diverse perspectives enriches the quality of our learning, scholarship, and leadership.” With humility, we invite and welcome diverse perspectives as we gather around Pepperdine's open table, seeking to discover and better understand what is true, good, and beautiful. In this way, Pepperdine's diversity sustains and enriches the academic enterprise and the community life of the University.

Conviction Five:

We Will Embody the Distinctive Spirit of Pepperdine

Pepperdine's commitment to world-class academic excellence through both its physical campuses and online programming, celebrates the sacred beauty of God's creation that embraces and transcends physical space. The University's Malibu campus is one of the world's most beautiful college campuses. Yet, the distinctive Pepperdine spirit extends beyond any specific physical location. It is found when Pepperdine people are gathered in community, whether on-ground or online, whether in Malibu, at a graduate or international campus, or elsewhere around the world. This Pepperdine spirit inspires the feeling of being home. By sharing in Pepperdine's relentless pursuit of truth through both academic excellence and Christian faith and values, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends find that they have been so changed by the experience that they feel compelled to work to transform the places where they find themselves.

The Pepperdine spirit intangibly binds Waves together across oceans, countries, generations, and degree programs. It celebrates Pepperdine's traditions as it looks to the future with a spirit of adventure, innovation, and entrepreneurship as so beautifully exemplified by the life of our founder, George Pepperdine, and so powerfully witnessed throughout the University's history. It embodies a spirit of gratitude, joy, and generosity as reflected in the University's motto—“freely ye received, freely give.” As waves washing up onto Malibu's beautiful shore merge waters from faraway places, so this spirit connects Waves everywhere beckoning us to discover and explore together. We aspire to a profound sense of connection within our alumni family, both near and far.