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Pepperdine University to Host Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center in Partnership with the Association of American Colleges & Universities

October 15, 2021  | 2 min read

The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) announced Pepperdine University as one of 19 new hosts for Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers. The center, developed in close partnership with AAC&U, will support existing efforts to examine campus norms and policies with an eye for justice, create a culture in which healthy cross-racial dialogue is the norm, and remind the community that all are of equal worth in God’s eyes.

“I am honored Pepperdine is joining these new grant awardees, some of whom I had the honor of mentoring during their application processes,” shares J. Goosby Smith, Pepperdine’s vice president for community belonging and chief diversity officer and the inaugural director of Pepperdine’s Campus TRHT Center. 

Smith, who has been involved with the Campus TRHT initiative since its inception in 2017, is eager to develop community connection opportunities that align with Pepperdine’s strategic plan, unique culture, and Christian heritage. The first of these efforts, Community Belonging Circles, enable community members to share their stories and experiences, fostering connection and a sense of belonging—one conversation at a time. 

“We look forward to partnering with these path-breaking institutions in their efforts to promote racial equity and healing on their campuses and in their communities,” said AAC&U president Lynn Pasquerella. 

The announcement follows a competitive grant application process. Preceding that process, four Pepperdine community members—Rebecca Campos (MPP ’15), April Harris Akinloye (’00, MA ’05), Mark Anthony Tribbitt, and Sharon Wakio (MA ’18)—accompanied Smith to the virtual TRHT institute this past summer as a prerequisite for Pepperdine’s prospective center application. Having not yet secured grant funding for the center, the University will self-fund the center’s initial stages, which includes ensuring that key members of the campus TRHT team attend the annual TRHT Institute for professional development. 

“The four pillars of our work are institutional truth-telling, promoting healthy narratives and dialogue around race, facilitating community connection, and strengthening ties with local and Indigenous communities through transformative relationships,” shares Smith. “We are thrilled to continue this work at Pepperdine with the support of AAC&U and the other TRHT campus centers.”