Facebook pixel Pepperdine University Senior Executive Vice President Gary Hanson to Retire | Newsroom | Pepperdine University Skip to main content
Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University Senior Executive Vice President Gary Hanson to Retire

Gary Hanson

Following four exceptional decades of unparalleled leadership to the Pepperdine community, senior executive vice president Gary A. Hanson (JD ’80) will be retiring effective July 1, 2024. Hanson has made a transformative impact and has been committed to Pepperdine’s advancement as an institution since he first joined the staff in 1982. 

“The breadth and impact of Gary’s contributions to the Pepperdine community cannot be overstated, and they have been most certainly honoring to God,” said Pepperdine president Jim Gash in a message to the community. “It is with the most heartfelt appreciation for his dedication to the University that we wish him the very best in the years to come.”

After serving as student body president and earning his JD in 1980, Hanson returned to Pepperdine two years later as associate general counsel and became general counsel in 1984. He was appointed vice president and general counsel in 2000, serving as liaison to the Board of Regents and overseeing an array of matters, including the University’s legal, regulatory, insurance, risk, equal opportunity, and emergency preparedness operations. During his tenure, he established a reputation and culture of servant leadership for the general counsel role and its office that resulted in members of the Pepperdine community actively seeking out advice and counsel from the University's lawyers on issues of all sorts. Hanson fostered an environment where people ran toward—not away from—the lawyers. Hanson was also critical, along with executive vice president and chief operating officer Phil Phillips (’88, JD ’92), to obtaining the entitlements for the Drescher Graduate Campus, ultimately obtaining the California Coastal Commission’s approval and successfully defending a lawsuit which attempted to block the start of the project’s construction.

In 2006, Hanson took on an even more expansive position as Pepperdine’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. In this role he was responsible for operational, financial, legal, regulatory, and governmental issues, as well as human resources, construction, campus planning, and physical plant operations. While much of Hanson’s energy went toward the betterment of the University, motivated by his faith, he had a passion for the well-being of the Pepperdine community, demonstrated by his receipt of the Margaret J. Weber Ally Award for supporting workplace equality and opportunity in a unique way. He not only worked to create a great environment for students, but worked to educate them as well. As an experienced attorney in the higher education and nonprofit arenas, he taught education law, negotiation and settlement advocacy, and legal research and writing at the Caruso School of Law. At Seaver College, he introduced undergraduate students to business law and international communications and negotiations. 

In his most recent position as senior executive vice president, Hanson has devoted his time to special projects that expand the University in unprecedented ways. He was indispensable in Pepperdine’s purchase and renovation of the Château d’Hauteville in Switzerland, working with property owners and regulators to restore the historic castle and convert it into a functioning college campus. He also co-led with dean Michael Feltner the exploration and evaluation of the healthcare education market that led to the University’s decision to launch a new College of Health Science. Hanson also serves as a director of the University’s UK Charity Corporation and its Argentine Foundation, as well as the “responsible person” for its Swiss entity, and he is a member of numerous internal University committees.

Hanson graduated from the University of Utah in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree and received his juris doctor from the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law in 1980. While at the law school, he served as student body president and received the American Board of Trial Advocates award for achievement in the art of trial advocacy.