Boundless Horizons OPPORTUNITIES for the FUTURE of PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY
“The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.”
INTRODUCTION It is in the nature of humans to seek new vistas, new horizons, and take on new challenges as each generation strives to improve upon its inherited legacies. The same is true at this university which is always changing, always advancing, and where the planning for “what could be” never really stops. There are moments, however, when a convergence of issues calls for reflection and a fresh examination of direction and purpose. At the beginning of this new decade, Pepperdine approaches its 75th year, and we will celebrate that milestone with many reflective activities, each marking the strengths of the institution. This season of review finds several of our schools and programs completing or undergoing reaccreditation of one kind or another; in fact, University-wide reaccreditation will be underway over the next two years. We are also in the “quiet phase” of a large fund-raising campaign which certainly will make its own statement about our hopes and dreams, and a number of global initiatives are enhancing the University’s outreach and reputation. We are a university confidently contemplating the future; indeed, we “lean forward.” We are brimming with opportunities and among our greatest challenges will be choosing among the “steps of change” with wisdom and insight.
The choices we make must be decided according to how closely they match our intent and our plans for the future. Specifically, Pepperdine, this community of faculty and staff, accepts the premise that we are here to positively change the life of each student in ways that are deep, wide, and everlasting. The last decade witnessed many changes and much growth. A separate report, available contemporaneously with this document, will outline the many blessings we have experienced. Our governing board, faculty, staff, and administration own this record as a consequence of their hard work, while understanding, humbly, that we owe our success to God’s providence and the unique founding characteristics of Pepperdine University. A new season is upon us, and it is time to think, once again, about “reaching deep and reaching far.”1 Not unlike the early years of this past decade, the American economy is once again a source of concern; yet, within days of the rapid declines on Wall Street in 2008, the University grasped the challenge, marshaled the support of the campus community, both here and abroad, and made the decisions necessary not only to survive, but to thrive in these times of uncertainty. We did so by placing students first, and we were rewarded with their presence, their confidence, and their infectious enthusiasm within all
five of our schools. It would be a mistake to fail to express gratitude to a patient faculty and an understanding staff as we prepared for things we could not then see. In many respects, however, planning for the future is still burdened with a lack of national economic progress. Now, nearing the end of 2010, financial markets remain uncertain. This reality is sobering and must be taken into account; still, we press forward with a sense of confidence. We can even see some of the mountain peaks we will scale through the haze of this global economic circumstance. The purpose of this statement about the future is to offer markers for our upward pathway, and to inspire those who will make our journey—and our success—possible.
PREPARING FOR THE JOURNEY Perilous times tempt many to call for maintenance, even, status quo, but that is not our practice, and it is not consistent with any sense of destiny or calling. Across America a conversation continues about college accessibility and cost, sustainability, competition with “for profit” entities, assessment and changing accreditation expectations, uncertainty in the number of students applying to college, and on and on.
Awareness of these issues is important, and we will be thorough as we respond and as we prepare and position the University. It would be naïve to ignore the signposts or to assume that this next decade will be without challenge. There are, indeed, a number of complexities we must address with determination and confidence, but at the end of it all is our commitment to students and those who teach and mentor them. Oliver Wendell Holmes is reported to have said, “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”2 An important job, then, for those who will chart the pathway for the next several years will be to address the complexity carefully, but to hold to “simplicity on the other side of complexity” where we find the student, full of hopes, dreams, and promise. Our past is both foundation and prologue, and we continue our journey with resolve. A document entitled Envisioning a Bold Future, shared with the campus community in 2001, has proven helpful in our planning and progress. Its five themes are easily summarized: Resources; Diversity; Heritage; Community; and, Scholarship. Now, 10 years later, most would say that those simple themes have proven to be useful rallying points and guideposts.
We do not now abandon them, but we do understand our responsibility at a deeper level, and we should respond accordingly. Comparing these five themes to this unique time and its opportunities, and expanding them for even greater impact and inspiration is our challenge. When mapped to current higher education themes, and combined with immutable elements of our University mission, these themes become: Advancing Learning, Knowledge and Scholarship; Developing Resources; Building Community; Respecting Diversity and Promoting Global Understanding; and, Honoring God and Heritage. A brief commentary on each of the five is appropriate.
ADVANCING LEARNING, KNOWLEDGE, AND SCHOLARSHIP With gratitude to our heritage of leadership, beginning in 1937, and extending to faculty who today contribute greatly to the academy through their extraordinary teaching and scholarship, and students and alumni who truly live lives of “purpose, service, and leadership,” Pepperdine claims a presence on the national and international dais. To continue to do so requires that we
keep our promises; that our market positioning be accurate and honest; that we assess and monitor success indicators; and, that we expect performance at the highest levels throughout the institution. By addressing life’s deepest questions presented through the study of arts, business, education, law, literature, public policy, the sciences, and scripture, Pepperdine will be known as a leader in the education of students with the imagination, intelligence, capacity, character, and will to address the world’s greatest challenges. Our aim then is to ensure that students receive a transformative education. While the primacy of teaching at Pepperdine is widely understood, scholarship in support of excellence must be encouraged, underwritten, and endowed. Failure to support strong, nationally recognized scholarship is simply unacceptable, and it will limit our future. But we believe research at Pepperdine will not be carried out at the expense of student learning. On the contrary, our faculty will engage students in original research and the discovery of new knowledge, thus enhancing the experience of both faculty and students. Research and discovery will be the watchwords for students and faculty alike. Our efforts must also include a clarion call for lifelong learning and service
that is unmistakably present among our alumni. In many cases the “call” will be heard first in our classrooms and in our cocurricular activities. One has only to observe the debate in Congress or read the headlines of our newspapers to understand that a national crisis exists in the matter of accessibility for students. More specifically, our progress in attracting minority students and others for whom a Pepperdine education seems out of reach must continue unabated. Commensurate effort in the hiring and support of faculty to mentor and serve those students is critically important. Another critical element of the academic infrastructure should be noted here: but for the dedicated work of those who enable the cocurricular activities which flourish on our campuses, the beauty of our physical plant maintained by selfless, caring, and hard-working men and women, and those who serve as financial, technological, marketing, fundraising, and support personnel throughout the organization, nothing would happen. A powerful engine would stall and sit silent. The staff and administration of this university each contribute to the University’s ascent in their own way, and they lead this place of higher learning confidently into the future.
DEVELOPING RESOURCES The notion of “competition” in higher education is unseemly unless the measurement is objectively valuable and useful to improving the student experience. Pepperdine’s third president, M. Norvel Young, often commented, “There is no competition among lighthouses.” The challenge, nevertheless, must be presented to deans and their respective faculty colleagues, in close concert with the provost, to decide what excellence will look like at Pepperdine, in each program, and then we must work, with alacrity, to that end. In all manifestations, excellence at Pepperdine must have as its aim the singular commitment that commends us to change lives. Those who know the University and its schools best must decide and lead toward appropriate aspirations, but the aim should be high and the outcome must be measurable. Accreditation standards should be mere minimums. Using agreed upon, objective benchmarks, Pepperdine as a university, and each of its five schools, should articulate plans for how they will reach the top tier of America’s leading institutions of higher learning in the next decade. Let the conversation begin and may the University scale the highest of peaks of learning, service,
and scholarship. In all of this, funding will be crucial. The Campaign for Pepperdine will be successful. Its approach will provide funds for endowment, capital projects, faculty scholarship, and teaching, and it will respond to ever-growing and crucial support for student scholarships. Without a doubt, the next decade will depend upon the selfless giving of those who believe in all that is Pepperdine and, of course, classrooms full of talented and engaged students. In the recent economic downturn, the University has weathered the brisk and unpredictable winds with calm confidence. This is true, for the most part, because we are student-centered and the reward for that commitment includes strong enrollments. We not only want to continue to recruit the best and the brightest, but we want them to be able to graduate on time and with pride in their program of study.
BUILDING COMMUNITY As much as any other theme articulated in the 2001 Envisioning a Bold Future document, the word “community” has found its way into the lexicon of daily interaction. It is a word that is both descriptive and aspirational. The addition of the Mullin Town Square
project on the Malibu campus, and new space for social engagement in our Los Angeles graduate campuses and in our facilities abroad, are physical examples of our focus on the development of social capital; but more importantly the attention to discourse on important issues, the greater use of faculty and staff in the deliberative process and the expansion of committees and advisory groups are part of inviting broad ownership of the future of this university. The University hopes to inspire our students to active civic and global engagement, and leadership in the marketplace of ideas. The rise of altruism and outreach to others as an avenue of academic inquiry, the attention given to globalism and crosscultural outreach, and other examples serve as hallmarks for others to follow. The next, and final, two areas on which we place attention and focus are of particular importance, yet they could become lost in the quest for tangible proof of the mountains we hope to ascend. To stay with that metaphor, of all the things we might leave behind to lighten our load, these must stay with us on the climb. The first, relating to diversity and the global community of which we are a part, is much more than just a popular trend: it is critical to the very nature and service of this university. The final point, which speaks to honoring God and our Heritage of
Faith, is determinative, finally, as to whether or not we have been successful in our journey together.
RESPECTING DIVERSITY AND PROMOTING GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING It is unwise and irresponsible to ignore the demographic shifts taking place in America. The University must reach out even more to people of color and to invest deeply and broadly in encouraging their enrollment and participation in our programs. Pepperdine must remain relevant to the Greater Los Angeles and California community from which we draw more than 50 percent of our student population. Faculty hiring must mirror these trends, although the competition is keen. Growing quietly, but with dramatic effect is the work being done in the global community, in Rwanda and Uganda, as but two examples. The University is playing a significant role in matters related to implementing the “rule of law” in countries formerly ruled by fiat and tyranny. The School of Law is providing remarkable leadership in this endeavor. Seaver College efforts such as those during Project Serve, open the hearts of students who
will return again and again to the service of others. The Graziadio School, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology and the School of Public Policy also serve with distinction. The stories are many and deeply touching. Pepperdine is increasingly finding itself drawn to care for the “least of these”3 and finding a home for the work of the mind, arms, and legs, but moreover, the heart. Each of the five schools should set aside space within the curriculum for “head and heart” engagement. For when we are successful in achieving our mission and truly strengthen lives for “purpose, service, and leadership,” the transformative nature of our work comes to life. Joseph Campbell noted: “When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.”4 If we are to be an institution that changes lives, then we can settle for nothing less than bringing about authentic and heroic transformations.
HONORING GOD AND HERITAGE Of all the areas articulated a decade ago, this final theme may present the greatest challenge. Anyone caring
about faith-based institutions cannot help but be touched by James Tunstead Burtchaell’s book, The Dying of the Light.5 In it he chronicles the academic rise and spiritual demise of many of this nation’s finest institutions of higher learning. As we press toward academic excellence, how can we avoid the failings of so many who have gone before with undoubtedly virtuous intentions? Pepperdine is a Christian university with an established relationship to Churches of Christ. America is fortunate that many schools claim a faith-based heritage. Our unique contribution was born of the 19th-century Restoration Movement. This relationship is an indelible part of our identity and must be nurtured. There are many “can do” elements outlined in this paper, but maintaining fidelity to our founders’ (Pepperdine’s, Seaver’s, and Graziadio’s) hopes and dreams is very important; it is a matter of honor, a “must do” in our planning. Making this more difficult are external forces that extend far beyond the purview of this paper. Those challenges, however, have little to do with our aspirations and are mere distractions. As long as our efforts remain sincere and attentive to the founding heritage of George Pepperdine College, now Pepperdine University, and the Frank Roger Seaver College
of Arts, Letters and Sciences, and the George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management, our two named schools, as well as the School of Law, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology and the School of Public Policy, we will make the progress we all desire, we will honor the wishes of our founders, and we will keep faith with our promises. This is nothing less than a labor of love and a matter of determination.
SPECIFIC AREAS OF OPPORTUNITY This paper is not an attempt to usurp the important, inclusive work of the University Planning Committee, the University Faculty Council, the several schools, the Alumni Leadership Council, and so forth. It is a plea, however, for engagement and productive ownership. Perhaps it offers an opportunity to refocus and steel ourselves for the climb we have already begun. This is a new season, one nearing a 75th anniversary, rich with promise and limited only by our imagination and, perhaps, such mundane things as funding and the economy. Henry David Thoreau once said, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.” Our dreams
are large and bold and we owe each of them a firm foothold, or “foundation,” as we continue the climb. A few particular promontory points beckon
NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT AND PRESENCE A serious conversation must take place among faculty, alumni, and the governing board as it pertains to the matter of where Pepperdine should seek to place itself in the pantheon of America’s colleges and universities. With our faith-heritage as a given, exactly what does success in this particular endeavor look like? The list of leading, national universities with a serious faith mission is remarkably short. This is as one observer noted largely “unoccupied space”6 in higher education. It is a promontory we should and will occupy, and we will demonstrate the fact that faith and academic prowess are compatible aspirations. Many at faith-based institutions of higher learning have decided that their mission and the accompanying Christian or Jewish values, for example, do not fully apply to graduate and professional programs. Such commitments are either seen as impractical or irrelevant to the graduate enterprise and their unique market pressures.
At this university, we start with the assumption that each student, graduate or undergraduate, comes to us at some point on the continuum of their personal spiritual journey. It is our desire to participate as encouragers and partners, or “scholars and witnesses,” as articulated by Provost Darryl Tippens, in the course of that journey. We affirm that each student is endowed with eternal value and should be treated with care as a spiritual being. Moving to another crucial area, one of significant value to students, alumni, and the whole of our community, Pepperdine must return to national prominence in athletics. The Campaign for Pepperdine will address some of the present physical impediments, but the commitment must be made today that each fully funded sport will be positioned to compete in the top 25 in the nation or, in several instances, at a much higher level. Pepperdine has a tradition of competing against much larger schools with great success, and we should aspire to excellence and student academic success across all programs. What we choose to do we will do well, and our student-athletes, institutionwide student morale, and our public profile will be the beneficiaries. Pepperdine has the opportunity to lead in a number of ways; indeed, there are “mountains” we can and should climb and, even, claim. For example, Pepperdine should stand
proudly for freedom of thought and civil discourse; especially this is true in light of our Christian heritage. Another example will be found in our steadfast student-centeredness, not only in how decisions are made, but in meaningful undergraduate and graduate research and scholarly development. At many institutions, the student is not the primary focus, but it should and must be different at Pepperdine. Our doors must be open. Our administrative preferences must yield whenever there is a demonstrated need for change. The allocation of our resources—of all kinds—must add value to the teaching and learning environment, or something is terribly wrong. Our commitment to international programs and global learning must continue and thrive. We must also give attention to how those experiences influence, shape and improve student lives and careers. Our programs abroad must result in a truly value-added dimension to the participant’s education in addition to service for the sake of service.
ALUMNI LEADERSHIP AND INSTITUTIONAL OWNERSHIP Many college presidents bemoan the lack of support from alumni, but Pepperdine is doing something about
it. Increasingly, the emphasis at the University and within each school is to call alumni “home” in every sense, and our alumni are responding eagerly. More than buildings, endowments, scholarships, and national recognition, alumni ownership of all that is Pepperdine will ensure the future. The Alumni Leadership Council is joining us on the upward climb, and already the load is lighter. In 20 years, we should have an army of alumni advocates and supporters to rival any school our size. Done right, an energized, vibrant, and productive alumni base will fuel our most ambitious dreams that today seem out of reach without them; in fact, perhaps our alumni, in the midst of their lives of purpose, service, and leadership, will become job creators and establish the tradition of Waves hiring Waves. A University-wide initiative will require a holistic approach to engaging recruitment, academics, cocurricular student experiences, career planning, and all of our alumni support programs. This is not a soft target: we must decode the mystery of alumni apathy present in most colleges and universities across America, and engage our alumni deeply in the future of Pepperdine. We must foster a University-wide environment that will yield reliable and loyal alumni advocacy and ownership. Of particular encouragement are the stories we are receiving from alumni
around the world who are truly living lives of profound service and impact. The Pepperdine story is one of both blessings and responsibilities. When alumni give of themselves, reflecting our motto, “Freely ye received, freely give”8 the pairing—blessings and responsibilities—is complete. Within our Seaver College residential community, two initiatives will be helpful in our desire to strengthen undergraduate alumni engagement: focus on the sophomore experience and plans to construct a residence hall for juniors. Succinctly, we must ensure the experience of the middle portion of the undergraduate experience. We must provide a fulfilling experience for all sophomores, those who go abroad and those who remain in Malibu, and a focused effort on creating strong class identity among juniors if we hope to enjoy the full benefit of a lasting relationship with those who will emerge from our undergraduate population.
exists in the upcoming Campaign for Pepperdine; we have a central, physical Malibu presence as well as a distributed network at our graduate and professional campuses and international locations; and, finally, we have the will to make this a centerpiece, and to declare boldly that a university cannot rise higher than the quality of its libraries. The final product will be surprising. Today’s learner and scholar has different requirements than even 10 years ago. The core collection remains critical and must be supported and, as necessary, expanded; however, technology, online resources, vast databases of information, and powerful search engines hold the future. The library of the future will encourage and enable shared experiences, group learning dynamics, and, likely, will become the true “student center” for both scholarly development and the creation of social capital on our campuses. We will study the current practices, emulate the best, and invest accordingly. But first, we dream, and plot our course.
THE LIBRARY OF THE FUTURE Almost more than any other physical element of the academic journey ahead, we must be successful in creating the library of the future. All the pieces are in place: we have already set aside enough space to respond to the dreams we will fashion; a strong level of support
ENDOWMENT AND EXCELLENCE Endowment support at Pepperdine undergirds excellence; it does not merely support operations. The difference was witnessed in the recent economic downturn as our financial condition remained
strong, which allowed continued progress on virtually all fronts. Certainly, we hope for sustained and growing endowment earnings, but we will not budget in a manner than relies upon endowment to the point that operations rise or fall with the financial markets. We believe that donors will appreciate the fact that endowment growth enables excellence and allows us to do more and to do it better. Our aspiration remains: we must press forward to a level of endowment that places us in the top 50 in the nation. We have work enough to do in the next several years on our watch, but we owe those who follow a firm foundation for the future of Pepperdine University.
RIGHT-SIZING AND FINANCIAL STABILITY One lesson learned during the current economic downturn relates to the importance of equilibrium and sustainable enrollment practices at each of our schools. Too few or too many students present a unique set of challenges. The issue, then, is to charge each school with establishing reliable levels of enrollment upon which the schools can flourish and the University can depend. We intend to focus attention on this issue, and to engage our schools in a broad and productive discussion.
SCALING THE HEIGHTS There are seven mountain peaks or summits coveted by all who climb into the clouds, who seek to do what few have accomplished. Tenzing Norgay, a storied mountain climber, wrote these words at 27,000 feet: “We look up. For weeks, for months, that is all we have done. Look up. And there it is—the top of Everest. Only it is different now; so near, so close, only a little more than a thousand feet above us. It is no lon-
together. We climb with and for each other because we aspire to higher and better things. We believe our horizons are boundless. This statement about the next few years is meant to open the dialogue to choosing challenging goals, to finding the right paths, to making Pepperdine better not just in 2020, but in 2050 and beyond. Let the conversation begin, and may it be attended by prayer and a confidence worthy of our faith every step of the way.
Address, September 23, 2000. 2
Lederach, J. P. (2005). The Moral Imagination: The
Art and Soul of Building Peace. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p.31 3
Templeton, S. J. (2002). Wisdom from World
Religions: Pathways to Heaven on Earth. Radnor, Pennsylvannia: Templeton Foundation Press. p.323 5
ger just a dream, a high dream in the sky,
A general reference to Frost, Robert. “Neither
Out Far Nor in Deep” and the title of my Inaugural
Burtchaell, J. T. (1998). The Dying of the Light, The
but a real and solid thing, a thing made
ANDREW K. BENTON President
Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their
of rock and snow, that men can climb. We
September 15, 2010
Christian Churches. Grand Rapids, Michigan:
make ready. We will climb it. This time, with God’s help, we will climb on to the end.”
Norgay was joined by Sir Edmund Hillary and they, together, stood on the top of the world on May 28, 1953. Our summits occur on commencement days—mountaintops of a different kind. Our heights are merely way stations, as the opportunities in higher education grow greater and greater in height and expectation. Still, we climb and sometimes even find paths of our own choosing, separate from those who climb alongside and with just as much determination. As a university we are tied together through mission, through the commitments we make to our colleagues, and, especially, our students. We climb
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 6
Gibson, R. (2005, Fall). The Bold Promise of
Pepperdine. Pepperdine People. Malibu, California: Pepperdine University. pp. 24-26. Noted theologian and professor of philosophy Dallas Willard quoted by provost Darryl Tippens. 7
Tippens, D. (2006). Scholars and Witnesses,
Defining the Pepperdine Difference. Faculty Conference. Malibu, California: Pepperdine University.
Published on Oct 4, 2010