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Diversity Programs and Initiatives

In fall 2020 Pepperdine announced a series of University-wide initiatives designed to further cultivate a community of deep belonging at the University. Each of these priorities were identified by the Presidential Action Advisory Team and President Gash as opportunities to build and model a diverse, informed, loving and unified community at Pepperdine. 

Vice President for Community Belonging

After a national search, on March 3, 2021, President Gash named Dr. J. Goosby Smith vice president for community belonging and chief diversity officer. In her new role, she will report directly to me and serve as a member of the University's Steering Team. She will also be a principal leader on the University Diversity Council for which she previously served as inaugural faculty co-chair in 2005.

In addition, Dr. April Harris Akinloye ('00, MA '05) has been hired to serve as the assistant vice president for community belonging to lead the University's diversity and inclusion initiatives alongside Dr. Goosby Smith. 

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.

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 more, 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. HR will meet with President Gash in February 2021 to present its proposal.

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.

Seaver College is presently evaluating its curriculum and its inclusion of multicultural awareness. The graduate schools will meet with President Gash in January to discuss the need, process, and timeline for a review of multicultural sensitivity in their respective curriculum.

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. 

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.

Renewing the 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 and Student Affairs are working together to launch this program in spring 2022. 

Public Display of our Diversity and History

Since Pepperdine moved to the Malibu campus in 1972, Waves Cafe has displayed a gallery of flags as a physical representation of the diversity of students at Pepperdine. The display is updated annually to represent the current student population, representing the nationalities of the 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.

The Office of the President also 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 will meet 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 also work with these teams to evaluate student engagement services and additional scholarship opportunities.

Exploring a Center for Diversity and Belonging

Following the hiring of the vice president for community belonging, Pepperdine will begin the exploration of a center for diversity and belonging.

School Programs and Initiatives

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