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Pepperdine to Honor Class of 2024 at Spring Commencement Ceremonies

Pepperdine Commencement Ceremony

Pepperdine University is set to hold several commencement ceremonies throughout April and May 2024, honoring graduates from Seaver College, the Caruso School of Law, the Graziadio Business School, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, and the School of Public Policy. These events will showcase esteemed speakers and distinguished alumni across diverse fields and industries, offering inspiration to graduating students as they mark the culmination of their academic journey and look to their future.

Denise A. RobersonOn Saturday, April 13, at 10:30 AM, Denise A. Roberson (MBA ’14), member of the Graziadio Board, will be honoredwith the Distinguished Alumnus Award and deliver the commencement address at the Graziadio Business School commencement ceremony. Roberson has been a trusted C-suite executive for more than 25 years. As a purpose-driven leader and change agent, she is leading some of the biggest brands in the world to actuate their business case for purpose as it pertains to building an engine for growth and innovation, driving 21st-century value creation, and using business as a force for good.Shelby Eli Steele

On Friday, April 19, at 10:30 AM, the School of Public Policy will present Shelby Eli Steele (MPP ’11), owner and president of Man of Steele Productions, with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Serving in multiple capacities as director, writer, and producer, Steele has created several feature-length films including a self-penned drama and a number of feature-length and short documentaries. His work often explores current cultural issues and discussions of race, offering perspectives of those from regions across the nation.

Eric L. JohnsonEric L. Johnson, the 60th mayor of Dallas, Texas, will deliver the School of Public Policy’s commencement address. After his initial election to office in 2019, Johnson was re-elected in 2023 with an overwhelming majority of the vote. During his mayoral tenure, Johnson has been responsible for a number of public safety improvements, ushering his constituents through the COVID-19 pandemic, advocating for federal disaster response following an EF-3 tornado, and implementing several practices to reduce violent crime in the region. Johnson is also currently a partner at Locke Lorde LLP.

The Graduate School of Education and Psychology will have two ceremonies; the first will be on Saturday, April 20, at 10:30 AM, honoring graduates of the psychology program. Sevet E. Johnson (MA ’04), county executive officer of Ventura County, will be the event’s Distinguished Alumnus and commencement speaker. As the county executive officer of Ventura County, a position she has held for two years following her service as interim county executive officer, she oversees a budget of nearly $3 million and has managed $164 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding. Leading more than 10,000 employees across 27 departments, Johnson is responsible for ensuring the well-being of her constituents in matters of public safety, environmental concerns, andSevet E. Johnson health systems.

Phillip C. McGrawThe second ceremony for the Graduate School of Education and Psychology will be on Saturday, May 18, at 2:30 PM, concluding the 2024 spring commencement ceremonies, and  will honor the graduates of the education program. Phillip C. McGraw (Dr. Phil) will be the event’s speaker. McGraw is one of the most widely recognized mental health professionals in the world, having gained early media attention with appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show in the 1990s, followed shortly by his own talk show, Dr. Phil. With a talent for making complex psychological issues relatable to a wider audience, McGraw has gained the trust of millions of television viewers, using his decades of experience as a trained psychologist to help Americans navigate life’s challenges. Today he leads Merit Street Media, a news and entertainment network based in the Dallas/Fort Worth region that features his new show, Dr. Phil Primetime, alongside other original and syndicated content

On Saturday, April 27, at 10:30 AM, Seaver College will honor Dale A. Brown (’64), a principal owner of Moriah Group, as the ceremony’s Distinguished Alumnus. The Moriah Group is a holding company based in Midland, Texas, with ventures in the oil and gas, real estate, technology, construction, and financial industries. Through its philanthropic arm, the Moriah Foundation, the organization supports various faith communities across the country. Additionally, Brown is also a founder and chair of the board for Petroleum Strategies, a company thatDale A. Brown facilitates large-scale energy asset transactions.

Connie B. HortonConnie B. Horton (’82), vice president for student affairs at Pepperdine, will deliver Seaver College’s commencement address. Horton has served in this role since 2017 and has thoughtfully guided young scholars through a deeply meaningful and memorable season of their lives. She has provided the strategic leadership and discernment necessary to help lead the University community as they navigated some of the most challenging moments in Pepperdine’s history, including devastating wildfires, fatal accidents and other tragic deaths, cultural and sociopolitical shifts, and a global pandemic. Through her direct work mentoring students and her oversight of teams who support wellness, facilitate community and belonging, and promote leadership development, Horton has seen students in times of trials and triumph. Throughout her career, she has had numerous opportunities to witness their deep compassion and resilience and celebrate their remarkable gifts and talents.

On Friday, May 17, at 10:30 AM, the Caruso School of Law will feature Gary Hanson (JD '80) senior executive vice president of Pepperdine, as theGary Hanson school’s Distinguished Alumnus. Hanson is senior executive vice president of Pepperdine University, to which he has dedicated nearly his entire career following his graduation from the Caruso School of Law in 1980. Prior to his current role, Hanson has served in a number of capacities at Pepperdine for more than four decades, sharing in a great deal of the University’s history and helping to shape much of its growth.

Judge André Birotte, Jr.Judge André Birotte, Jr. (JD ’91), US district judge of the US District Court for the Central District of California, will be the Caruso School’s commencement speaker. Judge Birotte serves as a United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. He has held the seat since 2014, when the US Senate unanimously confirmed his appointment by President Barack Obama. Four years previously, President Obama appointed him to serve as the United States attorney for the Central District of California, where he supervised a team of more than 250 prosecutors covering the regions of Los Angeles, Riverside, and Santa Ana.