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Pepperdine students celebrating at graduation

Belonging in the ACADEMY

As a Christian institution, God is revealed in places both expected and unexpected at Pepperdine. While this phenomenon is not limited to the classroom, places of academic introspection beg to be filled up with the inquiry inspired by viewpoints and vast planes of knowledge guided by diverse voices. In an academic community built on the tireless work of dedicated individuals from backgrounds of all types, God's hand in crafting Pepperdine's scholarly enterprise is undeniable.


student in the chapel

While Pepperdine is committed to fostering inclusivity and open exploration in the classroom, feelings of otherness and impostor syndrome—persistent, internalized fears that cause individuals to doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments—abound in the academy. Whether in young scholars' budding identities as college students, academicians' journeys rising through the ranks in an institution that reflects their values, or administrators' desires to connect deeply with their constituents, the feeling of belonging is vital to success in each individual's scholastic endeavors and communities.

Students' sense of belonging, especially, is reflected in their academic performance, retention rates, and community involvement, as well as their overall well-being and connectedness to the university. And, as students transition from class to class and year to year, their sense of belonging may evolve and be threatened by circumstances beyond their control. The academy plays a vital role in this endeavor with its power to invite diverse voices to the table and provide accepting places for all members to be seen, heard, and validated. As an academic community finds its home in its collegiate life, cultivating a sense of belonging within that community is critical to reinforcing each person's inherent value and empowering each to thrive.


Provost Rick Marrs

Rick R. Marrs will conclude his tenure as provost and chief academic officer of Pepperdine University at the close of the 2020-2021 academic year. At the conclusion of his service as provost, and following a yearlong sabbatical, Marrs will return to the faculty of the Seaver College Religion and Philosophy Division, where he began his Pepperdine career in 1987 and served as the Blanche E. Seaver Professor of Religion from 2001 to 2006.

Close up sample of a coronavirus specimen

Three notable Pepperdine alumni were appointed to serve on the White House Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups. Rick Caruso (JD '83), founder and chief executive officer of real estate company Caruso; Oscar Munoz (MBA '86), executive chairman of United Airlines; and Geoffrey H. Palmer (JD '75), owner of G. H. Palmer Associates, are among the 220 individuals who were asked to serve on a number of industry-specific advisory councils. The groups feature prominent leaders from a range of industries, backgrounds, and skill sets selected to work together on the monumental task of reopening the American economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Pepperdine places in the top 50 universities in the nation

U.S. News & World Report 2021 Best Colleges

Students work constructing set pieces at the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts.

The Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts debuted the Centered on the Arts podcast, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the arts at Pepperdine and features interviews with current and former Center for the Arts staff members, University alumni, faculty in the Seaver College Fine Arts Division, and guest artists.

"The arts provide us with one-of-a-kind experiences and emotions, but they also inspire conversation. I'm thrilled to bring this conversation to everyone," said podcast producer R. J. Morgan (MFA '18), events coordinator and administrative assistant at the center.

Speakers at this year's TEDxPepperdine event gesture to slides on a screen.

The second annual TEDxPepperdineU, "Surf-to-Summit," was held on January 30, 2020. Event organizer Ryan Groves (MA '15) said of the event, "TEDxPepperdineU celebrates those who strive for the pinnacles of achievement and ride the waves of change. The Pepperdine community is tremendously excited to curate a roster of phenomenal speakers, and we are grateful for the opportunity to learn from each of their triumphs, hardships, and lived experiences."