Pepperdine Comes to Malibu

Distant view of Pepperdine University's Malibu Campus, from the Malibu Lagoon.Copyright
Distant view of Pepperdine University's Malibu Campus, from the Malibu Lagoon.

History of Pepperdine

George Pepperdine, founder of Western Auto Supply Company, established George Pepperdine College in 1937 as a college with the highest academic standards guided by the spiritual and ethical ideals of his faith, the Churches of Christ. George Pepperdine College remained a small undergraduate school located in south-central Los Angeles for the next 30 years. In 1970, it became Pepperdine University when a School of Law was added and the business and education departments were reorganized as separate schools.

Following the high ideals of its founder, Pepperdine is nonsectarian and independent of ecclesiastical controls. Its faculty, administrators, and governing Board of Regents represent many religious backgrounds. Students of all faiths are welcome.

Pepperdine's Malibu Campus

Entrance to Pepperdine University at Seaver Drive, off Malibu Canyon Road.Copyright

By the late 1960s George Pepperdine College had outgrown its original campus location which was also impacted by negative urban changes in the wake of the Los Angeles Watts Riots. They were looking to both expand and to improve the school's image. In 1969, William S. Banowsky became Chancellor of Pepperdine and managed to raise the necessary funds for the Malibu campus primarily through a gift of 138 acres of land at the foot of Malibu Canyon by Malibu's Adamson-Rindge family and a substantial contribution by Mrs. Frank Roger Seaver. Ground was broken on the new site in 1970 and in 1972 the new 830 acre campus opened.

As part of the massive grading and site preparation, Malibu Canyon Road, which used to curve down to PCH along what is now Civic Center Way, was rerouted straight down the hill along the edge of Pepperdine to a new intersection with PCH. A new intersection, at Seaver Drive, joins Civic Center Way, Malibu Canyon Road, and the entrance to Pepperdine (photo, left). A traffic signal was installed at Malibu Canyon Road and PCH during April 1971.

In 1975, the Pepperdine undergraduate program was named Seaver College in honor of the Seaver's. In the 1980s, Pepperdine emerged as one of leading centers of American conservative academic thought. Although the campus mailing address is Malibu, by agreement with the City at the time of incorporation, the Pepperdine property is not in the City of Malibu.

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