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President's Report 2019: Charting the Climb

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In 1937, as George Pepperdine delivered the dedication address that signaled the opening of a new Christian college in Los Angeles and the beginning of the greatest accomplishment of his life, he remarked on the power of faith as the driving force of young men and women determined to make an impact on the world. He said, "An educated man without religion is like a ship without a rudder or a powerful automobile without a steering gear."


Indeed, charting Pepperdine's climb to become a premier Christian university could not be possible without a global vision, an inspiring mission, a glorious dream, and a transformative idea rooted in both faith and scholarship. Our collective dreams for the next chapter of Pepperdine are so grand and unbounded that they are like a mighty mountain beckoning us to climb. An endeavor of this magnitude requires faith, courage, and creativity, and attempting to climb a steep and unfamiliar mountain often exposes us to unavoidable opposition and challenges to growth, unforeseeable setbacks, and strenuous conditions.

As students prepare for lives of purposeful leadership and global citizenship, they must receive the mental, physical, and spiritual conditioning that allows them to plot their route, train for a variety of circumstances, measure risks, and practice for the great expedition. Preparing scholars for lives of great impact also requires an academic culture that refuses to compromise on the rigor, scholarship, and mentoring that it takes to shape exceptional leaders.

Students must be trained by people of deep conviction with uncompromising faith who dare to engage the world with the ambition to change it and to face the evil opposition to the advancement of good. Pepperdine is uniquely positioned to deliver on the promise of building and sending these leaders into the world by strengthening them intellectually, spiritually, and relationally with the power of God's truth and the promise of his unlimited grace.


Sarah Cannon

Sarah Cannon CEO Dee Anna Smith ('86) was appointed chair of the Board of Regents. "I am both proud and honored to serve my alma mater in this important capacity and to work alongside President Gash to engage deeply with the strategic direction of the University," shared Smith, who has been connected to Pepperdine for more than 30 years and a member of the board since 2014. "Pepperdine indelibly impacted my academic and spiritual development as a student. I am inspired by the opportunity to support the next generation of Waves as we begin a new chapter in Pepperdine's history."

Paul L. Caron, Carrol Parris, R. Rex Parris, Jim Gash

Carrol and R. Rex Parris endowed the Parris Institute for Professional excellence with a $2 million gift. Established in 2014 with an initial gift of $1 million, the additional gift names the Parris Institute in perpetuity and firmly establishes the Parris family legacy at Pepperdine Caruso Law.

"We are humbled by the continued generosity of Rex and Carrol Parris in funding the critical work of the Parris Institute for Professional Excellence, which continues to provide one of the finest law school programs in ethical leadership training for our students," said Paul L. Caron, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of the Caruso School of Law.


Percentage of international students across the entire student body

Pepperdine's eSports team won the West Coast Conference Preseason Invitational Championship during its inaugural appearance at the competition. The Seaver College program, led by faculty advisor Robb Bolton, director of campus recreation, formed in June 2019 and currently comprises 12 students.

The Student Success Center was recognized as a First Forward Institution for its First Wave program by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation. In April 2019 Pepperdine joined the inaugural cohort of First Forward Institutions to receive professional development, community-building experiences, and an early look at critical research.

Marissa Davis, director of student success at Seaver College, said, "The recognition will give Pepperdine the opportunity to network with other schools passionate about supporting their first-gen student population." With 16.5 percent of Pepperdine’s incoming class being first-gen students, "[the cohort] will provide a platform for sharing ideas, successes, and insights to provide a meaningful academic experience for our first-gen students."

Pepperdine TEDx

Seaver College students organized and hosted Pepperdine's inaugural TEDx event, which featured student and alumni speakers across diverse industries who explored the theme "Take the Leap," highlighting stories of bravery, culture, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Ryan Groves (MA '15), director of strategic employer partnerships at the Seaver College Career Center, developed the student-organized, student-run event, in partnership with the Seaver College Career Center and the Pepperdine chapter of the national business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi.

"Pepperdine's partnership with the TEDx organization represents an investment in the future of our students," says Groves. "It represents Pepperdine stepping onto the world stage and engaging in the global conversation and demonstrating thought leadership. It communicates to our students who they are and who they can become and to our alumni and extended community what we can achieve."

Industry 4.0 conference at The Novo

The Graziadio Business School celebrated 50 years of academic excellence with "Industry 4.0: The Future of Humanity in the Smart Machine Age," a signature conference designed to reflect on the accomplishments of the school's past and explore directions for its future.

Pepperdine Graziadio dean Deryck J. van Rensburg, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, Singularity University founding executive director Salim Ismail, and Institute for the Future's Bob Johansen, along with several other influential thought leaders and alumni, shared their insights on how employers can prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how employees can ensure they remain competitive as automation increases in nearly every industry sector.


The most applicants in Seaver College's history (Fall 2019)


Admit Rate
(Fall 2019)