Anne Morrow Lindbergh was both prophetic and practical when she observed in 1940, “The wave of the future is coming and there is no fighting it.” As we pause to report on our high-water marks of 2013, I wholly concur with Lindbergh and her unwitting nod to the Waves of Pepperdine—perhaps, as well, to the horizon of higher education.
Last year, following the fanfare of our 75th anniversary, one might say that we hunkered down in the ensuing 12 months to take a long look at all that we do. While accrediting commission reviews are inevitable and anticipated, self-imposed reviews of our processes and practices are entirely voluntary. In 2013 we volunteered to look inward.
We engaged leading consultants and took a deep dive into crucial elements of Pepperdine life: allocation of financial aid at Seaver College; enrollment opportunities at the Graziadio School of Business and Management; University allocation of space on the Malibu campus; and, among other areas of inquiry, University-wide strategies and issues. The reports are nearing completion and we are evaluating and acting upon them. I can share with certainty that three key drivers of Pepperdine’s future are change, creativity, and collaboration.
Across schools, we are exploring new ways to network ideas, curricula, and academic resources in a cross-campus collaboration of teaching and scholarship. Within each school, we are examining markets and admission metrics to “right-size” enrollment. At the School of Law, for example, we observe carefully the national decline in LSAT test taking, and we are paying close attention to competitive positioning—even as the School of Law has experienced the greatest jump in U.S. News & World Report rankings of any law school over the past decade.
Our deep dive has sharpened our focus as we take our values, our mission, and our ideas ever more confidently into the volatile higher-education arena. The essay that follows shares a bit of my perspective. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, we embrace your premise and boldly enter the fray. Meanwhile, 2013 has seen creativity percolating across our community as hundreds of faculty, staff, and students developed new ideas that would “rethink Pepperdine.” Our Waves of Innovation initiative attracted more than 170 applications. Eight finalists moved on to Phase II and will receive planning grants as they hone their creative ideas to:
- ENHANCE teaching and learning;
- FOSTER scholarly and creative activity;
- CREATE new revenue opportunities through increased enrollment, new programs, community involvement, or collaboration with corporations and industry;
- STREAMLINE our organization, physical plant, and operating processes; or
- STRENGTHEN the Pepperdine University brand and reputation.
Poised for progress and buoyed by the widespread support for the Campaign for Pepperdine, we press forward with optimism. Thank you for your support as we prepare for 2014 and make Waves for a future bright with promise.
Andrew K. Benton