Students are often told that college will change their lives. This year Pepperdine University is offering students the opportunity to change their college.
One hundred and sixty students, faculty, staff and alumni, both independently and collaboratively, have submitted proposals to “re-think Pepperdine” and “help shape its future.” Waves of Innovation is beginning Phase II of a two-part process.
Sunday, Sept. 15 marked the first submission deadline. Proposals selected for funding in Phase II will receive grants up to $5,000 to help applicants conduct further research and prepare a more detailed written proposal.
The Waves of Innovation committee, which is comprised of faculty, alumni and one undergraduate and graduate student, will judge the submissions based on five criteria. Proposed ideas must enhance teaching and learning, foster scholarly and creative activity, create new revenue opportunities and strengthen Pepperdine University’s brand and reputation, according to the Waves of Innovation webpage. Committee members are expected to review submissions independently and subsequently gather together to review each submission.
President Andrew K. Benton handpicked the committee members. “He really wanted to represent a cross-section,” said Lee Kats, Waves of Innovation chair and vice provost for research and strategic initiatives. Benton will ultimately look at a range of the committee’s top recommendations.
All of Pepperdine’s five colleges and schools are represented in the applications, offering a range of diverse ideas. Forty-eight percent of proposals were submitted by students, 29 percent were submitted by faculty and 23 percent were submitted by staff. Of the 160 proposals, there is no limit as to how many will be accepted. Approved proposals will later be presented in a TED-style talk by the applicants and will be awarded funding on Feb. 15, 2014.
“ [Waves of Innovation] shows an incredible passion that people have for both the university and service,” Kats said. “Many of the ideas were so heartfelt. I was just so impressed.”
Alexandra Roberts-Mendel, Seaver junior, submitted a proposal for a new program called “Lead with a Purpose.”
Roberts-Mendel would like to create an alumni network that would bridge the gap between current students and alumni.
“I thought that alumni were really an underrated resource that Pepperdine could take advantage of,” she said. The alumni would help with interviews and offer company tours, job shadow and network opportunities. According to Roberts-Mendel, Lead with a Purpose promotes the University’s central tenet of service.
Alumni should give back to a school that has given them so much, she said. “Pepperdine alumni have the moral imperative to volunteer sacrificially.”
Similarly, Seaver College junior Brian Cheah’s proposal combines his passion for sports medicine and service. He studied abroad spring semester of his sophomore year, nd volunteered at a homeless shelter in Shanghai, China. The experience had a major impact on him, and he stayed in Shanghai an extra two months to intern at the shelter.
Cheah wants to incorporate an exercise-training program at the shelter. He is curious as to how homelessness would correlate to the physical benefits of exercise. He believes that fitness would positively affect one’s self-esteem and have beneficial long-term effects such as increased health and perhaps even get people off the streets. “I want to figure out a way that’s best for them to get out of homelessness,” Cheah said.
Cheah says the proposed program is self-sustaining. He would offer other sports medicine majors an incentive to continue the program and hopefully expand it.
Cheah says Waves of Innovation has provided him with a creative outlet to help his dream come to fruition. “I just thought this was a great idea for students to be creative and innovative. It lets you dream big,” Cheah said.
Waves of Innovation was created to support Pepperdine 2020: Boundless Horizons, the university’s strategic plan. In the 2008 recession, Pepperdine began to look inward. This initiative marks a new beginning. The University is looking outward and toward the future and calling on Waves to help shape it, Kats said.
“I think that Pepperdine students are really in tune with what needs to be improved at Pepperdine,” Roberts-Mendel said. “ [Waves of Innovation] shows how much [the administration] value our opinions.”
Follow Whitney Irick on Twitter: @Whit_Ashton
As published in the Sept. 19 issue of the Pepperdine Graphic.