Empowered by these commitments, Pepperdine has identified six Strategic Objectives that embody the University's Animating Convictions and position the University to continue its ascent.
These priorities and the accompanying goals and initiatives align with the Board of Regents' Strategic Guidance document, which identifies “the top five distinctive pathways Pepperdine must travel to become a premier, global Christian university.” The Strategic Objectives will inform and guide the University community as it allocates resources, assesses opportunities, and navigates challenges over the next decade.
The six Strategic Objectives chart Pepperdine's ascent. As the diagram below indicates, the goals are interconnected and each addresses critical aspects of the University's future. Their order is important, but not because it might imply that one objective is necessarily more valued than another. The first three objectives—the pursuit of academic excellence, the cultivation of a vibrant community grounded in the Christian mission, and the transformation of students for global leadership—reflect the University's academic mission. Objectives four through six address the things that are needed for the University to thrive—a community of belonging, sustained operational excellence, and sustained focus on the impact of a Pepperdine education.
Ascending This Mountain: How Pepperdine's Six Strategic Objectives Fit Together
Assured of love and support in a community of belonging
Supported by operational excellence
Faculty and students engage at the intersection of faith and scholarship
So that students are prepared for leadership through a transformative experience that
Is both academically excellent and grounded in the Christian mission
So that they might go forth and positively impact their communities and the world
Strategic Objective One:
Pepperdine's commitment to the highest standards of academic excellence requires faculty who are outstanding teachers, mentors, and scholars, who are committed to the relentless pursuit of truth and faith together, and who are dedicated to their students' lifelong learning. The University places a high value on the faculty-student relationship and affirms that excellent classroom teaching and dedicated faculty mentoring are critical for transforming students' lives.
The University recognizes that excellent teaching is grounded in faculty research and scholarship that deepens understanding of a faculty member's field, advances knowledge, and brings Pepperdine faculty into community with the wider academic enterprise. Through the scholarship of discovery, integration, pedagogy, or application, Pepperdine faculty and students are co-discoverers, pursuing academic excellence in the classroom and the library, in laboratories and studios, in field placements and on stages, and everywhere else learning happens. Pepperdine faculty care deeply about the issues facing society today, both locally and globally. From physical, mental, and spiritual health, to the care and health of the planet, to gender and race relations, to aesthetic expression, global leadership, civic engagement, and educational and legal reform, Pepperdine scholars work passionately to solve problems and inspire future solutions. Therefore, motivated by their faith in God and love for humanity, Pepperdine faculty will be leaders in integrative learning and scholarship, working collaboratively across disciplines, integrating theory with practical knowledge and community engagement, exploring the intersection of faith and their field of study, and seeking to bring restoration and renewal to the world in the 21st century.
Hire, develop, resource, and retain outstanding faculty who will strengthen the University's pursuit of missional excellence through their teaching, mentoring, and scholarship.
- Institute a best-practices faculty peer mentoring program that focuses on their development as teachers, mentors, scholars, and members of the University community.
- Double the number of endowed chairs and professorships by 2030 to attract distinguished faculty and to reward excellence in teaching, mentoring, and research by the current faculty.
- Enhance support for faculty as researchers and mentors by working with the five schools to increase internal and to double external grant funding. Such funding would increase opportunities for course reductions, sabbaticals, and student/faculty research.
- Meet the changing needs of faculty and students by strengthening access to robust information resources provided by University libraries.
- Address the housing and childcare challenges faced by faculty and staff living and
working in Southern California.
Establish Pepperdine as a global leader in the faith and scholarship conversation.
- Enhance the recruitment, presence, and engagement of thought leaders at the intersection of faith, scholarship, and culture to serve as faculty and as experts in residence.
- Expand the reach of the Center for Faith and Learning to better equip and support faculty in “faith seeking understanding.”
- Strengthen Pepperdine's leadership role by hosting both digital and in-person regional,
national, and international conferences and symposia for faculty and student scholars
who are advancing knowledge around faith, culture, and society.
Explore strategic opportunities—for developing new academic programs, new colleges or schools, and for building creative alliances with like-minded partners—that leverage University strengths, meet student and community needs, and advance the University's mission.
- More closely align the academic programs and offerings across all five schools, strengthening collaboration and cooperation.
- As market conditions evolve and as opportunities emerge, and building on Pepperdine's
excellence in its undergraduate liberal arts and in its graduate and professional
education, explore adding new degree or certificate programs or schools that focus
on science and technology. This might include information systems, computer science,
and data analytics; engineering; healthcare and allied fields; and/or multidisciplinary
studies at the intersection of technology, the humanities, and the sciences.
Employ state-of-the-art technology in both physical and online classrooms in the service of academic excellence, transformative educational experiences, and innovative scholarship.
- Substantially upgrade classroom and laboratory technology to support excellence in teaching, learning, scholarship, and research.
- Introduce a research computing initiative to support a growing faculty and student research portfolio.
- Strengthen national reputation for excellence in the delivery, quality, and outcomes of online education.
Strategic Objective Two:
The University seeks to create a community that embodies and reflects the central reality that all things hold together in Christ. The University affirms that God uniquely revealed himself in Jesus when “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). This incarnational reality gives deep significance to Pepperdine's Christian mission as the University community seeks to live out its mission by caring about the things Jesus cares about.
Service is one of the University's core values, and Pepperdine affirms that knowledge calls for a life of service. Thus, the University seeks thoughtfully to cultivate and sustain a vibrant community, grounded in its Christian mission, that promotes compassion, love, justice, goodness, beauty, and truth, and that is dedicated to the sacred work of restoration and renewal.
Hire, develop, retain, and resource exceptional staff members and administrators who will strengthen the University's vibrant community and culture of missional excellence through their work.
- Expand leadership-development opportunities to reach more staff members and achieve greater operational effectiveness.
- Increase opportunities for key staff members to participate in continuing education programs that advance professional development and that allow them to demonstrate their distinction and institutional affinity in external settings.
- Strengthen the culture of open communication and transparency by increasing the sharing
of knowledge across the University and by developing ambassadors in the workforce
who are empowered to speak about Pepperdine's history and distinctive identity.
Strengthen spiritual life and formation efforts at the University and increase collaboration and engagement across departments and schools.
- Expand and enrich opportunities for the Pepperdine community to come together for times of worship and service.
- Enhance spiritual life programming and encourage greater collaboration on matters of spiritual life and formation across the University's five schools and within its major administrative departments.
- Increase opportunities for students to pursue truth and grapple with their faith through
such things as the academic curriculum, book discussions, and faculty mentoring.
Cultivate an enhanced commitment to service and to community engagement through the curriculum and the cocurriculum.
- Increase opportunities for service and community action and justice efforts by faculty, staff, students, and alumni, connecting these efforts to the University's Christian mission.
- Expand the current grant program that supports faculty-student community-based service learning and scholarship.
- As an expression of our Christian mission, advance educational opportunities on sustainability,
while respecting and stewarding our natural resources.
Deepen and broaden the impact of the Office of Church Relations, the Boone Center for the Family, and the Center for Faith and Learning in equipping families, scholars, ministers, and faith communities.
- Forge and strengthen bonds with a wide variety of Churches of Christ, and provide leadership, resources, training, and support to ministers, church leaders, and members through Harbor and other outreach programs.
- Strengthen the University's position as a trusted partner that provides valuable programs and resources for faith communities and their leaders on matters ranging from healthy families and strong relationships to effective ministry and church leadership, to teaching and learning at the intersection of faith and learning.
Strategic Objective Three:
A culture of academic excellence and vibrant Christian community nourishes purpose-driven, servant-minded student leaders marked by critical and creative thinking, courage, integrity, humility, and resilience. Focused upon seeing students as the heart of the educational enterprise, Pepperdine will offer a transformative educational experience that engages the whole person, head, heart, body, and soul. Pepperdine's five schools serve student populations who are at different places along their educational journeys.
Some are seeking an undergraduate degree and others a graduate or professional degree. Accordingly, pedagogy and programs differ across disciplines and schools. Despite such differences, all Pepperdine students share a transformative educational experience. Pepperdine strives to offer students an excellent education in a distinctively Christ-centered culture that inspires and equips students to be resilient leaders prepared to address local and global needs and challenges.
Attract, enroll, and retain talented students who embrace the University's distinctive mission.
- Increase student demand for Pepperdine academic programs and degrees across all five schools, growing the number of applications and enhancing yield rates.
- Maintain retention and graduation rates that exceed the average of each school's peer
Fully implement best-in-class student wholeness and resilience programming across the University to strengthen a thriving student community intellectually, spiritually, relationally, and physically, in both life skills and service.
- Build a student and events center on the Malibu campus to advance student wholeness and to develop more vibrant student and community life.
- Fully resource and integrate the Resilience-Informed Skills Education (RISE) Program across the University.
- Markedly enhance opportunities for students and the Pepperdine community to worship
together, learn together, serve together, eat together, exercise together, cheer together,
play together, live together, and share life together.
Expand high-impact educational practices, especially experiential learning, that prepare students for leadership roles and equip them for lives of purpose and service.
- Grow opportunities for students to participate in internships, clinical placements, service-learning experiences, and study-abroad and study-away programs.
- Commit resources to creating additional opportunities for undergraduate and graduate
students to engage in research with faculty mentors.
Promote and support the highest level of excellence in the arts and athletics.
- Foster sustained success in athletics at the highest level in NCAA Division I by focusing on the holistic formation of student-athletes prepared to compete successfully for national championships in most sports.
- Expand Pepperdine's tradition of excellence in the arts by devoting resources to the holistic formation of student-artists and by fostering community with student-artists and their creative efforts.
- Provide the facilities required for the level of excellence in the arts and athletics to which Pepperdine aspires.
Strategic Objective Four:
The University will build a stronger community of belonging among Pepperdine's faculty, administration, staff, students, alumni, boards, and friends by affirming the intrinsic dignity of every person and celebrating diversity as a true and beautiful representation of God's creative expression. This sense of belonging will create a deeper connection to, and affinity for, alma mater among our students and worldwide alumni community.
Enhance diversity and deepen the sense of belonging at Pepperdine.
- Fully integrate, resource, and empower the vice president for community belonging position as part of the University's senior leadership.
- Continue to enhance the diversity of the Board of Regents, University administration, faculty, staff, and student body.
- Review the curriculum and cocurriculum and implement appropriate changes to increase diverse perspectives and enhance student belonging.
- Develop dynamic, distinctive, and effective faith-based educational resources for administration, faculty, staff, and students on issues of cultural competence and cultural sensitivity.
- Explore creating a center for belonging.
Strengthen alumni engagement with the University and deepen the sense of connection to alma mater.
- Vastly increase alumni involvement and participation in the life of the University, emphasizing the formation of loyal alumni from the beginning of their Pepperdine journey.
- Dramatically increase annual giving by alumni in terms of both the number of donors each year and the total amount of alumni contributions.
- Strengthen the alumni mentoring program and facilitate alumni networks at each school, connecting alumni to prospective and current students, enhancing employment opportunities for students, leveraging technology, alumni affinity and expertise, and advancing alumni engagement.
- Explore development of a “lifelong learner” model for alumni engagement that provides
alumni with ongoing opportunities to remain connected to Pepperdine's academic and
Foster a culture that embraces intellectual diversity and promotes a hospitable environment for the expression of ideas guided by Christ's love and framed by the relentless search for truth.
- Become a model for how to engage in respectful and meaningful discourse and address difficult and divisive issues with love and conviction.
- Through the newly launched President's Speaker Series and other such programs and events, host a diverse array of speakers and guests and integrate these events into the community and the academic curriculum.
- Advance conversations within the Pepperdine community about academic freedom and develop a widely embraced University policy or statement that clarifies academic freedom and freedom of speech values and expectations.
- Continue to implement shared governance at all five of Pepperdine's schools.
Strategic Objective Five:
Pepperdine will extend its reach and influence, both locally and globally, by responsibly and thoughtfully strengthening its ties with the unique and influential city of Malibu and deepening its engagement with the greater Los Angeles area—a global and cultural hub. Founded in Los Angeles in 1937, Pepperdine University seeks to build on its existing ties in Los Angeles, including the law and counseling clinics housed at the Union Rescue Mission in Downtown Los Angeles, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology's Urban Initiative 2.0, the affiliation with the GRAMMY Museum, and the School of Public Policy's relationship with the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Pepperdine seeks to impact the world in places of both poverty and abundance by providing enhanced curricular and cocurricular opportunities for students and faculty. Pepperdine already has a strong presence across the globe with campuses in Washington, DC, Buenos Aires, Florence, Heidelberg, Lausanne, and London, and with other programs and international partnerships and affiliations. The Sudreau Global Justice Institute at the Caruso School of Law works in Africa and elsewhere to protect the vulnerable by strengthening justice systems and training the next generation of global attorneys. The University's strategic growth will extend the reach and influence of the University and will expand opportunities for global strategic partnerships. Pepperdine's recent acquisition of the Château d'Hauteville in Vevey, Switzerland, provides a historic opportunity for the University to elevate its presence internationally while broadening educational programs for students, faculty, alumni, and global leaders in business, law, and government, among other fields.
Elevate Pepperdine's visibility and impact in the greater Los Angeles area.
- Strengthen ties to the city of Malibu and enhance relationships with those communities closest to Pepperdine's campuses, including the community surrounding Pepperdine's original campus near Downtown Los Angeles, and develop expanded internship placements and coordinated community-service projects.
- Expand the University's engagement in Los Angeles to provide enhanced curricular and cocurricular opportunities for students and faculty, extending the University's presence and deepening its community engagement. Explore the development of a facility in Los Angeles.
- Advance the impact of the Pepperdine community locally and globally on issues ranging from homelessness, racial justice, and sustainability to mental health, access to educational and legal services, economic development, and civic engagement, among other matters.
- Explore new strategic partnerships with companies, organizations, and nonprofit entities
that align with the University's mission and provide expanded opportunities for students,
faculty, and the University community.
Expand Pepperdine's global reach and impact.
- Fully develop the Château d'Hauteville—a signature Pepperdine international facility in Switzerland—expanding opportunities for Pepperdine students, strengthening global partnerships, and elevating the University as a global leader in higher education.
- Expand the University's international programs by reestablishing a University site in Asia and exploring the development of a permanent facility in Africa.
- Expand the University's global justice and human rights programs to include all five schools and their faculty, staff, and students.
Strategic Objective Six:
Pepperdine enjoys financial strength and stability and a strong culture and tradition of careful stewardship of its resources. The University has shown boldness, innovation, and creativity at vital points in its history. As the University faces future challenges to higher education, such as demographic changes in the number of college-aged students; concerns about access, affordability, and student debt; uncertainty about the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; and a diminished consensus about the value of a college degree, Pepperdine will need to innovatively reimagine how it sustains and strengthens operational excellence and the delivery of a transformative educational experience.
Thoughtfully address student and family indebtedness at graduation.
- Substantially increase endowment funding for student financial assistance and enlarge the availability of need-based aid.
- Expand loan forgiveness programs to help students manage indebtedness after graduation.
Conduct a strategic review of the University's allocation of resources to ensure alignment between available resources and the University's strategic priorities, to identify and eliminate unnecessary redundancies, and to enhance operational efficiencies.
- Maintain strategic agility and operational flexibility so that the University can respond to rapidly changing environments and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Build “off ramps” into new programs and major projects to minimize the risk of imprudent expenditures.
- Strengthen cooperation and collaboration across all schools, departments, and major areas of the University to advance both operational and academic excellence and efficiency through enhancing the use of shared services and improving the management and sharing of information.
- Critically examine expenses and discontinue activities and programs that no longer
provide significant benefit to the University and its students.
Significantly grow the University's resources and broaden sources of support to advance Pepperdine's mission and vision.
- Prepare for and launch a capital campaign to raise additional resources that will advance the strategic priorities set forth in the Pepperdine 2030 Strategic Plan.
- Expand the capacity of the University's Advancement Office and double the University's annual fundraising by 2030.
- Double the University's endowment by 2030.