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Face to Face

In 1988 “Don't Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Through the decades, the perky tune featuring poppy overdubbed vocals sung with a Jamaican accent became a cultural phenomenon, accompanying carefree montages in movies and inspiring whistling the world over. But the song that was an instant mood booster was only a glimpse into McFerrin's personal brand of bringing fun and enjoyment to all by way of a transformative musical experience.

Beyond his mainstream musical success, McFerrin was a proponent and teacher of circle singing, a communal performance method characterized by improvisation and collaboration. As singers take turns contributing to the ad-libbed songs with their different tones and styles, they create a fluid and spontaneous atmosphere where they feel empowered to create and inspired to connect.


Music is indivisible. The dualism of feeling and thinking must be resolved to a state of unity in which one thinks with the heart and feels with the brain.

—George Szell

As with other improvisational arts, each performer's contribution creates moments of connection that encourage listening, understanding, and responding. Each performer relies on the commitment of the other participants to the success of the exercise. The circle format also allows performers to see and hear the other singers, recognize their emotions as they arise, and replace their inherent sense of individualism with a spirit of unity.

Whether on stage, in an intimate circle, or in fellowship with friends, opportunities for uninhibited expression allow for connections to emerge and multiply. As an institution devoted to developing empowered and empowering leaders, Pepperdine must commit to nurturing a culture that promotes the value of individual dignity in the context of a unified group. Learning about one another, acknowledging each other's strengths, and advancing a collaborative attitude can bring about joy and healing to a community that desires deeper connections with one another.


Waves men's champion golf team

For the second time in program history, the Waves men's golf team won the NCAA national championship following a 3–2 victory over the University of Oklahoma on June 2, 2021. Led by coach Michael Beard ('02), the Waves earned their 2021 trophy after playing a seventh round of competitive golf in six days at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Pepperdine athletes

of student-athletes earned a GPA of 3.0 or greater.


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More than $1M
awarded for internal research projects


SPP class

Top 10
School of Public Policy ranks in top MPP programs in the West

U.S. News & World Report

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Throughout spring 2021, Seaver College students in the Fine Arts Division and the Flora L. Thornton Opera Program presented a variety of virtual performances through the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts website. Students, who prepared and rehearsed remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, performed William Shakespeare's As You Like It, Jules Massenet's Cendrillon, and Ugly Lies the Bone by playwright Lindsey Ferrentino.

The Hub for Spiritual Life

The Hub for Spiritual Life at Pepperdine, a new initiative to reimagine and enhance students' experience of spiritual growth at the University, launched with a mission to develop students as leaders throughout their faith journeys with the community support of fellow students along with faculty and staff spiritual mentors.

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The Pepperdine chapter of the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) collaborated with a large network of researchers, teachers, and administrators to develop the best quality instruction for English learners and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. In pursuit of educational equity for communities across Los Angeles, student officers worked together to address issues such as language barriers and subsequent achievement gaps due to distance-learning challenges faced by multicultural students. “CABE has helped us understand the critical ways teachers can support students with language barriers through the lenses of servant leadership, mutual respect, social equity, human rights, and community empowerment,” said Linda Guzmán, president of the Pepperdine chapter of CABE and current student in the education doctoral degree program at the Graduate School of Education and Psychology.