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47th Annual Pepperdine Associates Dinner Honors Founder George Pepperdine’s Enduring Legacy

President Jim Gash at the 47th annual Pepperdine Associates dinner

Members of the Pepperdine community gathered from far and wide to attend the 47th annual Pepperdine Associates dinner, held Saturday, April 22, 2023, at the Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills. This year’s event celebrated the University’s growth and accomplishments over the years and the exciting new initiatives just on the horizon.

Opening the evening was Pepperdine’s vice president for advancement and chief development officer, Lauren Cosentino (’97, MBA ’12), who highlighted the individuals helping to uphold the legacy and vision of the University's founder, George Pepperdine.

“I think George Pepperdine would be pleased at how his University has grown and matured in its scope, reach, and global impact with a legacy of more than 120,000 alumni around this world doing God’s good work on this earth,” shared Cosentino. 

Recently appointed senior vice chancellor for alumni affairs Hung Le (’87, MA ’03) led the invocation and recognized “the honor and nobility of our industry, the honor of our work, and the goodness of our community on this never-ending journey to pursue truth.” Gabe Vasquez (’96), owner and president of Vasquez Entertainment and owner of Rove Productions, led the Pledge of Allegiance, which was followed by remarks by Dee Anna Smith (’86), chair of the Pepperdine University Board of Regents, who shared her dedication to supporting Pepperdine’s ascent to become the world’s premier global Christian University. 

“We are planning new programs in other parts of the world, some being places where Pepperdine has never had a presence before,” Smith said. “By venturing to these new places, we can spread the values of the Pepperdine community—the values we celebrate tonight—and greatly expand this University’s power to do good, just as George Pepperdine envisioned.”President Jim Gash at the 47th annual Pepperdine Associates dinner

Before introducing president Jim Gash (JD ’93), dinner chairs Rita and Dale (’64) Brown shared their longstanding history with Pepperdine and their appreciation for the many dedicated members of the community who have made the University’s achievements possible. “We’re part of not just a beautiful place, but a beautiful community of like-minded people who believe sincerely in both the lofty educational mission of this university and the way that mission is executed, with an uncompromising emphasis on faith and living out that faith in service to our fellow men and women,” said Dale. Rita added, “That appreciation and the unity of purpose among all the people who support this university are what bring us together tonight.”

As the evening’s keynote speaker, President Gash took the podium to reflect on the roots of George Pepperdine's vision that have shaped the University into what it is today and the cardinal virtues that have manifested in the University's vision going forward. 

“I am astounded at how his vision and the virtues he hoped this university would imbue are remarkably profound as a cure to the ills of modern culture, now almost 90 years later—faith where there is fear, truth where there is deception, excellence where there is apathy, and character where there is self-promotion.”

Beginning with the cardinal virtue of faith, Gash explored the vibrant campus worship opportunities that have fulfilled students throughout their academic experiences, including the Well, Athletes’ Chapel, the Pepperdine Worship Summit, and the launch of the Center for Faith and the Common Good. In his discussion of the virtue of truth, Gash recognized the vital importance of academic freedom and free speech in the academy and Pepperdine’s commitment to engaging in difficult discussions and dialogue in the pursuit of truth. As Gash transitioned into the topic of excellence, he noted that serving others and glorifying God gives deeper purpose to the sacrifice it takes to achieve excellence. Finally, Gash reinforced the indispensable opportunity that a college education provides to building character. “Here, we believe, all of these challenges are opportunities for growth and formation with wise and patient counselors standing by your side,” he said. “We were not designed to tackle these questions alone. We were built to live in a community.”

Gash also discussed the new advancements to Pepperdine campuses both local and international. Two of the University’s most anticipated projects include the Mountain at Mullin Park, a state-of-the-art complex and the future home of leading fitness and well-being resources for the entire Pepperdine community, and the Chateau d’Hauteville, the University’s new international campus located in Switzerland. Amy Grant at 47th annual Pepperdine Associates Dinner

The evening concluded with a moving performance by GRAMMY Award–winning singer Amy Grant, who performed a selection of her classic hits as well as her new single, “Trees We’ll Never See.” The first major Christian artist to successfully cross over into the pop genre, Grant shared stories from her life and entertained the audience with a rendition of “El-Shaddai” and a cover of “Oh How the Years Go By.” Won by One, Pepperdine’s six-member a cappella group, joined Grant onstage for a performance of “Father’s Eyes.”