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School of Public Policy Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The Pepperdine University School of Public Policy commemorated two decades of academic excellence with a dinner celebration at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on November 4.

Esteemed members of the Pepperdine community, including administrators, faculty, staff, and alumni, addressed the audience throughout the evening, each one uniquely exploring the theme “A Way Forward” as it relates to the University, local and national governments, and the United States. The Honorable Benjamin E. Sasse, United States senator representing Nebraska, served as the featured guest speaker.

The night opened with welcoming remarks from Joseph Czyzyk, chair of the School of Public Policy Board of Visitors, who highlighted the significance of the venue that “memorializes one of our greatest presidents.” Recalling some of President Reagan’s most notable accomplishments, Czyzyk contended that the nation needs more leaders, “who believe in and appreciate, as Reagan did, the democratic government and civil freedoms we enjoy as blessings from God passed down through our founding fathers—blessings that should be cherished and respected always.”

Charity Wallace, fellow member of the Board of Visitors, delivered the invocation following Czyzyk’s remarks. Associate professor of public policy Luisa Blanco Raynal, who celebrated her own School of Public Policy anniversary earlier this year when she marked 10 years as a faculty member, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Won by One, Seaver College’s acappella singing group comprising six undergraduate students, performed the national anthem.

Following his tribute to School of Public Policy dean emeritus James R. Wilburn, dean Pete Peterson (MPP ’07) discussed strategies for developing “a way forward” and examining the future of public policy. “In a time in our politics and on our campuses when debate is squelched and opposing views—particularly conservative ones—are attacked, we will demonstrate the public virtues of civility and humility, as we welcome viewpoint diversity inside and outside the classroom,” he noted. “And in a time when the American people distrust our public institutions, we will continue to prepare leaders who define every day what it means to be a ‘public servant.’”

Exploring the idea of hope in times of challenge, , Pepperdine University president Andrew K. Benton recognized the ideals of those who envisioned a great future for this country and celebrated the virtues  necessary to help drive true democracy.

“None of our founding fathers believed that democracy would be perfect or easy…but they had faith that it could work, and it has, perhaps better than any of them could have dreamed,” Benton said. “One of the things that makes our School of Public Policy unique is that it teaches its students to reward that faith, both through diligent study of our nation’s founders and its history and through earnest applications of those lessons to the issues we face today.”

After an introduction by President Benton, Senator Sasse further evaluated the connection between the political and personal aspects of a successful governing body. As he explained, “Government, in the American tradition, is not the center of our lives. Government is about creating and maintaining a framework for ordered liberty so that—free from violence—you can be free to go out and live the rest of your life through institutions of volunteerism and persuasion and love.”

In his closing remarks, Peterson thanked the Pepperdine community for their 20 years of encouragement, leadership, and dedicated service. “This has been a celebration of the School of Public Policy and all its accomplishments, but we also wanted this to be a celebration of all of you,” Peterson emphasized. “You are the people we want standing with us as we train this country’s next generation of focused, purpose-driven servant leaders.”

To learn more about the mission and vision of the School of Public Policy, visit the School of Public Policy website.