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Pepperdine University

Our Work

During our inaugural academic year 2021–2022, the Office for Community Belonging (OCB) will focus upon the following “DUNAMIS” priorities:


Community Belonging Circles

We will facilitate Community Belonging Circles—groups that train faculty, staff, and students to be leaders of this highly connective facilitation method. Additionally, we will host other dialogue sessions in which Waves of varying views can meet and reason together.

President's Speaker Series

Driven by a desire to connect deeply with the Pepperdine community and inspire meaningful dialogue, the President’s Speaker Series invites distinguished scholars and thought leaders representing diverse points of view to examine topics and issues facing our communities and the world today. As part of the University’s ongoing efforts to build a community of belonging, the series provides opportunities to cultivate an engaged and impassioned collective through civil discourse.

Learn more about the President’s Speaker Series.


Belonging Awards

In collaboration with Student Affairs, the OCB plans to launch the annual Belonging Awards. Additional details will be shared when available.

Building Connections

We will arrange for events and service opportunities that foster connections between myriad groups across multiple Pepperdine campuses and with our many generations of alumni.

Campus Partnerships

In order to increase institutional diversity consistent with its mission, Pepperdine cannot succeed without the support and collaboration of the many schools and divisions across the University. The Office of the President has begun forming intentional partnerships of collaboration with Student Affairs and diversity councils across the University to enhance communication and implement strategic initiatives that will create a broad community-wide effort toward belonging.

Neighborly Focus

Build collaborative and mutually generative relationships with community partners in Los Angeles


Los Angeles Community Partnerships

The OCB will build collaborative and mutually generative relationships with community partners throughout Los Angeles. Collaboration with other on-campus resources will also enable Waves to accept, understand, and love themselves, such that they are capable of accepting, understanding, and loving their neighbors in a similar fashion.

Perspective Taking

Hosting movie nights and numerous high impact educational practices will create opportunities for students to view life through the lenses of others.

Enhanced DEI Education

Facilitate and/or support education for faculty, staff, and students that increases awareness, empathy, and respect regardless of identity

Evaluate Curriculum

Pepperdine’s commitment to diversity stems from a Christian heritage that compels the University to love justice and to treat every individual equally with respect and compassion. The University’s faith tradition also confirms that individuals are finite and therefore one’s knowledge is incomplete. Through it, we believe that the inclusion and experience of others from diverse points of view are how we begin to see dimensions of truth previously unseen. Diversity not only enriches the educational endeavor, it is critical to it.

Implement Diversity and Inclusion Education

Pepperdine seeks to be a contemporary expression of a global, intellectual community. To that end, diversity councils across the University are considering the best approach to cultural intelligence, conscious inclusion, and cultural humility education. Seaver College is preparing to launch its initial diversity education program in fall 2021. Members of the University leadership are presently engaged in ongoing cultural intelligence education.

Civil Rights Spring Break Trip

The University is developing a civil rights spring break trip which will serve to empower, foster leadership, and educate students on past and present day matters of equity. The Office of the President, Office for Community Belonging, Academic Affairs, and Student Affairs are collaborating to launch this program in spring 2022.


Character and Learning

Strengthen scholarship at the nexus of leadership, faith, and development

Inclusion First

Examine processes with a focus on inclusion and its availability to all

Community Belonging Concerns

Launch the Community Belonging Concerns reporting form online

Review Hiring and Retention Practices

Pepperdine remains committed to building a diverse community that fully engages and fosters a community of belonging for faculty, staff, and students. As part of this effort, Human Resources (HR) will review its recruiting and hiring practices in order to enhance best practices that promote inclusive hiring and retain more employees of color while providing additional relevant resources to supervisors.

The president met with HR leadership to discuss current policies and practices for intentional hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff. HR leadership has been tasked with developing a proposal for enhancements and best practices to improve employee diversity at all levels of the University.

Display of Our International Diversity

Since Pepperdine moved to the Malibu campus in 1972, Waves Cafe has displayed a gallery of flags as a physical representation of the international diversity of students at Pepperdine. The display is updated annually to represent the nationalities of the current student body, including international students, US citizens, and permanent residents who maintain foreign citizenship. In March 2020 the Office of the President mobilized and sponsored the redesigned flag display in Waves Cafe that includes the UN-recognized countries representing our student body. Learn more about the international flags display.

Display of Indigenous Chumash Artwork

The Office of the President began working with Student Affairs in fall 2020 to display Chumash artwork on campus in Payson Library. The taskforce is working now to secure the artist to create the artwork for the display.

Survey and Support Admissions

President Gash met with admissions officers from each school in January 2021 to discuss their methods and best practices for attracting and securing a multicultural student body and whether any improvements in those areas can be made. He will continue to work with these teams to evaluate student engagement services and additional scholarship opportunities.


Student Visioning Sessions

Facilitate appreciative inquiry discovery sessions with students, faculty, and staff to ascertain Pepperdine’s strengths and dream together of its future, providing fodder to design OCB’s strategic plan

Imagining a Center for Diversity and Belonging

Following the hiring of the vice president for community belonging, Pepperdine will begin conceptualizing a center for diversity and belonging, which will serve as a resource for Christian scholars and practitioners who value inclusion, diversity, equity, and belonging


Explore Our Capacity to Serve

Facilitate and broker cross-unit relationships to engage in long term impactful service opportunities 


School Programs and Initiatives

Learn more about the programs, projects, and forums from each school: