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Pepperdine University Celebrates 41st Annual Pepperdine Associates Dinner

President Andrew K. BentonIn the grand ballroom of the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, members of the Pepperdine community near and far gathered for the 41st annual Pepperdine Associates Dinner held Saturday, April 8. The event’s theme, “Convicted Civility,” resounded throughout the evening’s festivities, particularly in the poignant words of featured speaker Robert Gates, chancellor of the College of William & Mary and former United States secretary of defense (2006-2011).

In his opening remarks, chancellor Michael F. Adams welcomed guests to what he called “one of our University’s most anticipated traditions,” one that celebrates Pepperdine’s successes of the year and its greatest supporters, including both new and longtime members of the George Pepperdine Society who were escorted through the room by members of the Pepperdine Ambassadors Council.

Keith Hinkle, senior vice president for advancement and public affairs, echoed Adams’ sentiments as he celebrated the impact of the supporters—3,070 to be exact—who generously gave during Give2Pepp, Pepperdine’s first-ever Giving Day.

“We are always mindful of the fact that any time we celebrate Pepperdine rising even higher in the U. S. News rankings; any time one of our faculty members gets media attention for a new discovery or idea; any time we touch the lives of the less fortunate, whether here in southern California or on the other side of the world, you have helped make it possible,” Hinkle proclaimed to the attendees.

With 1,129 of supporters being first-time donors, Hinkle emphasized the power of participation and the value of brand ambassadors who mobilized the entire Pepperdine community to impact future generations of Waves.

In a candid and engaging conversation with School of Public Policy dean Pete Peterson, Gates, who served as an officer in the United States Air Force and then for 27 years in the Central Intelligence Agency, expounded on his own understanding of the fine balance between strongly held beliefs and peaceful and constructive expressions of those beliefs. As the first secretary of defense in US history to be asked to remain in office under a newly elected president, Gates is widely viewed as a champion of bipartisanship, compromise, service, and diplomacy. The conversation offered Gates the opportunity to reflect on the qualities of leadership—such as honor, integrity, and moral authority—that he has both observed and practiced in his storied, decades-long career.

Offering a hopeful outlook on a campus community that embraces constructive dialogue and free speech, president Andrew K. Benton reflected on the challenges and triumphs of building consensus among a diverse body of students, faculty, and staff members. “When people realize they can enter a passionate debate without being attacked or condemned, they open up,” he said to the crowd. “They feel reassured about speaking what’s truly in their hearts. I want our students to feel that reassurance every minute they’re on campus.”

Entertainment throughout the evening was provided by the Pepperdine University Wind Ensemble led by director Tony Cason and accompanied by vocalist Angelo Silva, a Seaver College senior, who performed the National Anthem as well as a rousing rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

Learn more about the Pepperdine Associates program [BROKEN LINK]