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President's Report 2019: The Summit

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When Sir Edmund Hillary, a mountaineer and explorer from New Zealand, reached the top of Mount Everest—the highest mountain on earth that requires unimaginable skill to attempt and takes nearly two months to scale—he gazed across the valley toward the peak of Makalu, the fifth-highest mountain in the world, and mentally devised a plan to conquer his next climb. He later explained that while he was standing at the highest point above sea level after achieving what had once seemed impossible, he continued to look beyond to the next challenge, eyes fixed always on the horizon.

hikers climbing a peak

Hillary didn't climb alone. His defining moment, his greatest accomplishment, was experienced in tandem with Nepalese mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, who, along with Hillary, became one of the first two individuals to reach the top of the Himalayan peak in 1953.

At Pepperdine, we're renewing our focus to strengthen students intellectually, spiritually, and relationally so that they have the courage to pursue leadership and service where it matters most. Intellectually to think and see the world differently. Spiritually to have the faith and confidence of God's unfailing promises. And relationally to harness the character, courage, and connections to build uncompromising resilience in the face of life's challenges. As with any great undertaking, this attempt must be experienced and enjoyed together.

Why would we strive to be unique—to provide an experience and training for students different from other institutions of higher education to reach the top of this enormous mountain? Why climb at all? Because our mandate is to pour our resources into brilliant leaders who seek truth and justice in whatever professions they are called to pursue. Exceptional men and women of character who will influence the next generation of thinkers and believers and awaken a movement of global leadership. Who examine the world through both faith and intellectual inquiry and understand the power of both worship and wonder. Who will reach the summit and ask . . .
"How far will I go next?"

If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself—upward and forever upward—then you won't see why we go.
—Sir Edmund Hillary



Andrea Roberto

Andrea Roberto won the Gold Medal at the fifth quadrennial Parkening International Guitar Competition on June 1, 2019. In addition to his medal, the Italian musician received the $30,000 Jack Marshall Prize. Alec Holcomb, a native of Tennessee, won the silver medal and received $15,000. Sergey Perelekhov of Russia was awarded the bronze medal and $7,500.

Pepperdine's AEG classroom

AEG and the Institute for Entertainment, Media, Sports, and Culture hosted a series of summer courses at STAPLES Center. Eight industry leaders explored a variety of relevant topics, including disability insurance policies for student-athletes, ethics in relation to betting on sporting events, Hollywood litigation, breaking into the entertainment industry, and First Amendment rights for journalists.

$1.4 Billion

Value of FY19 net assets maintained by the university

Jeffrey Baker

The Disaster Relief Clinic at the Caruso School of Law provided support to more than 100 clients impacted by the Woolsey Fire. Jeffrey Baker, assistant dean of clinical education and global programs and associate clinical professor of law at the Caruso School of Law, along with about 150 law school students, faculty, and staff, organized clinic operations, offering informational sessions at various locations around Malibu to educate residents about understanding insurance policies, Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines, and temporary housing options. "It is an expression of the Pepperdine mission to serve our community in different ways," says Baker. "Now our students are better equipped to help real people with real cases during real emergencies."

Healthcare Symposium

"Healthcare Leadership in the AI Revolution: Opportunity in the Smart Machine Age," the Graziadio Business School's 2019 Future of Healthcare Symposium, examined the industry changes required to navigate the Smart Machine Age and the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) into the healthcare space.

"As machines get smarter and become better at performance, human intelligence is not going to change. But machines will," explained keynote speaker Eric Topol, world-renowned cardiologist and founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, adding that all medical specialties will eventually incorporate AI enhancements. "We need to get more humane. That's what defines us, and that's what people want when they're sick: to be able to deal with their data and be able to have a better outcome."

Kristen Dowling

Kristen Dowling (MA '07), former Pepperdine women's basketball assistant coach, returned to Malibu as the eighth head coach in program history. As the head coach of the Division III Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas since 2012, Dowling posted a 147-46 (.762) record, including six straight 20-win seasons and at least a share of six consecutive SCIAC regular-season championships. Her squads won the SCIAC Tournament four consecutive years between 2014 and 2017 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament each time.

This will be Dowling's third stint at Pepperdine. She was a graduate assistant and academic advisor during the 2006–07 and 2007–08 seasons, then returned as an assistant coach for the 2010–11 and 2011–12 campaigns under former head coach Julie Rousseau (MA '12). The Waves went 32-27 during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. They placed third in the West Coast Conference (WCC) in 2011 and advanced to the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

The Waves went 22-12 last season, tied for third place in the WCC, made the WCC Tournament semifinals, and won the program's two first postseason games in the modern era, making it to the Round of 16 in the WNIT.

Sara Young Jackson

Sara Young Jackson ('74) was named chancellor of Pepperdine. A member of the University's senior leadership team and an important advisor to President Jim Gash (JD '93), Jackson, who has served in key leadership roles at Pepperdine since 1979, will continue to strengthen the University's endowment while cultivating meaningful relationships to extend Pepperdine's reach both locally and globally.

"As Pepperdine's incoming leadership team advances its shared vision to be recognized as a preeminent Christian university with a global reach, its goals require the dedication of people who know and love Pepperdine, who are deeply connected to the friends of Pepperdine, and who have demonstrated the capacity to build significant new friendships for Pepperdine," said President Gash. "I am honored to partner with her to advance our shared aspirations."