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Debby Benton

Pepperdine’s first lady shares bits of Benton history from the presidential couple’s 35 years at Pepperdine

Pepperdine People

  • When the Bentons first arrived in California from Oklahoma, President Benton hosted a Van Halen concert at Firestone Fieldhouse for fellow members of the Malibu Emergency Room Board, one of the Bentons’ first public outings as part of the University.
  • Mrs. Benton is dedicated to the Boone Center for the family, where she serves as the president of the Friends of the Family League and has even taught courses for the Relationship IQ program. She is also committed to her work on the Center for the Arts Board and Athletics Board.
  • “Our students aren’t getting everything they can at Pepperdine if they don’t take Relationship IQ classes, especially those classes that teach safe dating practices.”
  • When President Benton was vice president of university affairs, the Bentons would host students and the annual Christmas party for the Board of Regents at their home to lighten President and Mrs. Davenport’s load.
  • “Andy has always been a leader. In college, he was the president of the student body government for three years. He is a good listener, which is one of his strongest leadership qualities. But when he has an idea, he can get really noisy.”
  • Traveling and making friends all over the world is her favorite first-lady duty. One memorable moment was meeting Margaret Thatcher in London. Last year Mrs. Benton traveled to Gulf Shores, Alabama, with the women’s sand volleyball team as they competed for the national championship.
  • While traveling to the Dominican Republic for Project Serve, she remembers a student who celebrated his 21st birthday on the trip. “Other vacationers were shocked that he chose to serve others on his 21st birthday, but it was much more meaningful than any other experience.”
  • Hailey Benton (’03, JD ’08) was a Pepperdine student when her dad became president, but she was discreet about her pedigree. “She’s a lot like Andy. They’re both very strong, quiet leaders. But they’re both willing to fight for their beliefs.”

Community Effort

Thanks to the generosity of those who contributed to #PepperdineStrong, faculty, staff, and students affected by the Borderline shooting and Woolsey Fire continue to be supported on their path to recovery and healing.

PepperdineStrong Data - Pepperdine University


The Pepperdine community near and far showed its support for those affected by local tragedies.


Facebook | KATRINA WINNETT (‘18)

Despite all of the tragedy our community has endured, I have been amazed by the stories of so many who have seen God clearly working in both their lives and the lives of others during this time.


Thank you, Pepperdine, for keeping our son safe and for the ongoing communication keeping us informed.


I can’t even imagine the fear and pain that everyone is going through. I’m so proud of all the love and community action that I’ve seen.

Sound Bites

“We do not have to choose between resisting hatred and resisting censorship. Rather, these two goals go hand in hand. They are mutually reinforcing. Non-censorial measures are more effective in countering hatred and fostering equality, diversity, and dignity.”

Nadine Strossen, Former President, American Civil Liberties Union

EVENT: “HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship”


“So many people don’t understand the economic impact of hope . . . Hope is very much an asset that we have to have.”

Christine Simmons, COO, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Former President and COO, WNBA Los Angeles Sparks

EVENT: “The Triple-Bottom Line of Social Entrepreneurship in Sports and Entertainment”


“When institutions that start off being faithful to their roots de-identify, they become shiftless. It may be a place of values and it may be a place that still does a lot of good in the lives of students, but when you lose touch with your tribe, then I think it’s the beginning of the end for a sincere expression of faith through what you do.”

Andrew K. Benton, President and CEO, Pepperdine University

EVENT: “Promises to Keep”


“Just because something is impossible does not mean it’s not worth trying. Who cares that the summit is unreachable if climbing that mountain makes you into one? Don’t you know that courage only comes after you do the thing that’s scary?”

Theo E. J. Wilson, YouTube Activist, Speaker, Slam Poet

EVENT: “Race and the Internet: The Digital Shadow”

Did You Know

On February 23, Pepperdine faculty, staff, and their families partnered with City Plants tree service in Los Angeles to plant 40 trees at Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Center.

From the Archives

“Though we may not understand everything that lies before us, we must nevertheless keep our watch, remaining vigilant. And, for us, it is imperative that we also reach deep into our motives and principles, and that we reach far into the future for a vision that will propel us forward.” —Andrew K. Benton, inaugural address, September 23, 2000

Andrew K. Benton - Pepperdine University Source: University Archives Photograph Collection