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Pepperdine Commits to Fosteing Racial Justice and Equity at the University

July 21, 2020  | 2 min read

To expand ongoing efforts to address all forms of racial injustice and inequity, especially against the Black community, Pepperdine is taking steps to build a more diverse, informed, loving, and unified environment at the University.

In January of this year, President Jim Gash (JD ’93) proposed to the Steering Team, a group composed of 21 leaders of major University areas who work with Gash to advise and guide the University, the addition of a chief diversity officer to work directly with the president and serve as a member of the University’s senior leadership team. In addition to the new administrative position, the University is creating a Presidential Action Advisory Team to interface with the senior administration, the University Diversity Council, and the diversity councils of the various schools. The team will be devoted to furthering a community of understanding, compassion, and unity at Pepperdine.

The work of strengthening the spirit of community is an ongoing process. From the time Gash accepted the role of president, he began a deliberate outreach campaign to meet with a diverse group of students to obtain a greater understanding of their perspectives. These meetings continued until the pandemic sent the student body away from campus. Now, Gash, other University leaders, and those who have been working on these issues over the years are actively engaging in conversations for the purpose of listening, learning, and deepening understanding. All members of the community are being encouraged to offer their recommendations for both the Presidential Action Advisory Team and for the University in general. Suggestions regarding scholarships, hiring, programming, and admissions have been submitted and are being considered in order to more fully develop a plan of action with immediate, intermediate, and long-term goals, objectives, and metrics.

“We will only succeed in strengthening the Pepperdine community if we trust each other. As president, I intend to earn your trust by working side by side with you to produce real change, one day and one decision at a time,” said Gash, in a message to the University community on June 8, 2020. “I trust the Steering Team, and all their respective teams, to take action to fulfill this vision. I also trust you, and I invite you to work with us. We are brothers and sisters created by God, who designed us to live in true community. When we do this, when we stand up and lead together in humility, compassion, and resolve, our light will shine and reach the world with a message of hope, truth, justice, and love."