You asked and he answered. President Benton takes questions from Pepperdine Magazine readers.
(Send President Benton even more questions: magazine.pepperdine.edu/askandy. We'll print his answers in the next issue of Pepperdine Magazine.)
What is your favorite Pepperdine tradition?— Heather Ilizaliturri (‘06)
Hmmm. Tough one. I would have to go with Seaver New Student Orientation and the tradition of upper-class students greeting first-year students as they arrive in the residence hall area, overwhelming them with a sense of hospitality and enthusiasm. You can’t beat those orange and blue t-shirts in action!
Which past jobs or career experiences have particularly aided you in your current position as president of Pepperdine University? Where or in which job markets do you think the future jobs trends will lie? — Susannah Hanson (MPP '12)
This might surprise you, but I served twice as a senior support staff member to a successful president. Being “inside” as decisions were made and as policy was shaped taught me near-daily lessons I will never forget.
The ability to work with and inspire people, garnering their confidence and trust will never go out of style. Technically, one must be competent, but effectiveness in the dynamic of human relations will always be marketable and singularly important. Every industry needs those skills.
I have heard that on-campus housing prices have been reduced this year in efforts to get students to stay on campus. If this is true, has the campus environment changed at all compared to previous years? Has the University considered this or anything else to draw students to campus? (Seaver is a ghost town on weekends.) — Christopher Bischel (‘11)
Frankly, we observed how others were marketing to our students and we decided to take them on, head-to-head, including respreading some of our pricing. To your second question, we already put a lot of money into making campus life interesting so I am a little surprised; in fact, I worry about overstimulation (too many competing activities) during certain portions of the year. If you have specific suggestions, let me know. This is very important to the whole of the Seaver experience.
Many of my colleagues from SPP class of 2011 are still unemployed, underemployed, and interning with the hopes of landing a career. What are you doing to increase the recruitment of students by legitimate paying employers? — David Andrade (MPP ‘11)
The national condition is not good and California is worse, but I would like to think that we would outperform the competition. Probably the single most important contributor to those with desirable jobs upon graduation emerges from interning while in school. Anything that causes one’s resume to stand out from a packed field is crucially important. It sounds as if some focused attention to both the form and substance of how our graduates present themselves in the marketplace could use some attention.
My dream is that one day the Phillips Theme Tower could be lit. I once saw a photo from the distant past of it lit and it was stunning. I understand the issues with the community, but maybe it could be lit only once or twice a year for something like Easter, graduation, or the first night of the Pepperdine Bible Lectures? — Mark Manassee (‘85, MS ‘89)
This is complicated, to say the least. In effect, Pepperdine did not obtain proper authorization to light the tower many years ago. To gain that approval today would be both expensive and, frankly, would be a distraction from our other efforts to obtain approval to construct campus projects. Because we abide by the law, we don’t feel free to flaunt our relationship with the county or the community. However, when students have found creative ways to “uplight” the tower (say, on the one-year anniversary of September 11) I must admit to a feeling of admiration for their zeal and gentle civil disobedience. We can’t do that regularly, but what campus doesn’t appreciate occasional subtle, respectful, and important messages? (I hope I don’t go to jail for this answer! If I do, please write me.)