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Dear Pepperdine Students,
I attended the Ben Shapiro lecture in Elkins last night [Tuesday, April 10]. I write to you all to express the admiration and inspiration that flooded my mind and my heart because of you. Pepperdine students inspiring me is nothing new or uncommon; in fact, the older I get the more deeply these moments of inspiration resonate. I am in my 25th year working at Pepperdine, and you all provide the meaning in my work. Last night provided a beautiful example of the way you all are special. My involvement in last night’s event focused primarily on safety and security, and in weeks of planning meetings leading up to the event, it was common for staff members from the Seaver Dean’s Office, Student Affairs, Integrated Marketing Communications and the Department of Public Safety to say something like, “I have no concerns about our students creating any kind of problem.” Not only were those sentiments proven accurate last night, you students achieved something so far above anyone’s highest expectations.
Here was a speaker who has been protested off other campuses in sometimes violent demonstrations where people were hurt. Yet, at Pepperdine, we had a full auditorium of students on both sides of the political aisle, and we engaged in an authentic civil discourse, where it seemed everyone listened; though convicted in their own beliefs, felt comfortable expressing those views; but treated everyone else with respect and dignity. When Austin Welch, the president of the College Republicans, started the evening by introducing his friend and roommate Garen Kosoyan, the president of the College Democrats, to offer a prayer, the spirit of the room was affected. The decision to begin the evening in that way foreshadowed the kind of humanity in God you all would exhibit. At all times, without exception, all of the students showed respect. The student speakers who expressed disagreement with the speaker’s ideas also thanked him for coming! It felt like there was real dialogue occurring that frankly is not occurring much in our country. Last night represented a model of how our society and our country should engage — and you all led it. Oh, for you all to one day be running Washington and Sacramento.
Over the years, when I become discouraged about the state of our country or the worst challenges in society and then I spend time with you all, I experience a calmness wash through my soul. It is a calmness that flows from your brilliance, compassion, empathy, conviction, intellect, creativity and the way God has shaped you. It is who you are. Interestingly, last Saturday at our Associates Dinner, the President and CEO of Walmart, Doug McMillon, said, after spending time with Pepperdine students, he experienced the same thing. Thank you all! May God bless every one of you.
Phil E. Phillips
Vice President for Administration
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