Center for Sustainability Director Ricky Eldridge smiles for a photo in 2017 at his apartment in Los Angeles. Eldridge said he works remotely at his home in Westlake Village, CA, due to COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Ricky Eldridge
Pepperdine’s Center for Sustainability welcomes its newest director, Ricky Eldridge.
Pepperdine hired Eldridge as the new director of the Center for Sustainability in January. Eldridge has been with the University since June 2019 as the director of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs and now serves in both roles.
“At Pepperdine, it’s always been explained to me and it’s been observed by me as well, that everything extends from fulfilling this faith-based mission,” Eldridge said. Through this lens, Eldridge said he can view sustainability in an ethical, practical and purposeful manner that is consistent with the Pepperdine mission.
With his new role, Eldridge said he is excited to utilize the opportunity to further advance this mission.
Rhiannon Bailard, who worked for Pepperdine’s Governmental and Regulatory Affairs for many years but has now moved to another institution, founded the Center for Sustainability October 2008.
Eldridge described sustainability at Pepperdine as managing the University’s resources in an ethical, practical and purposeful manner that is appropriate and consistent with Pepperdine’s mission.
“People are doing so much great stuff across the University and being able to centralize and communicate that is an exciting opportunity,” Eldridge said.
One aspect Eldridge said drew him to his new role was his childhood connection to nature. Eldridge grew up in the rural town of Valley Center, CA on an avocado grove.
His connectedness to nature followed him to law school, where he was an officer in the University of Southern California’s Energy and Environmental Law Society. Through his officer role, Eldridge said he facilitated speakers, events and opportunities for students who wanted to work in careers involved in sustainability.
Pepperdine’s faith-based role was a core reason why Eldridge came to Pepperdine.
“One of the huge draws of me coming here was [Pepperdine’s] mission to pursue excellence and to instill in students with these faith-based values to help them go forwards and be leaders in the community,” Eldridge said.
By working at a place of higher education, Eldridge said he hopes to gain expertise from the University’s academic professionals and coordinate academic partnerships.
“[Pepperdine is] a place that’s inherently blessed with theoretical, practical, and academic discussion on a daily basis, and we kinda have this proverbial wealth of resources that are capable of examining all sides of any given issue or project,” Eldridge said.
Coordinating with the various schools and departments throughout Pepperdine will be a key component to achieving the University’s goals, Eldridge said. Some examples of the departments the Center for Sustainability works with are the Department of Facilities Services, Department of Design and Construction and Transit Services.
Eldridge also noted the importance of student involvement in sustainability.
“I think there’s various student clubs across campus that do a lot of great work in sustainability,” Eldridge said. “I think that working and partnering with them and finding ways to collaborate on projects and make things as streamlined and helpful as possible is definitely something that we want to pursue and empower.”
Eldridge oversees projects such as the replacement of the globe lights on campus and the enhanced parking and storage project. Other sustainability efforts that Eldridge said he will continue at Pepperdine include electric vehicle charging stations, a waste diversion tracking system, and a reclaimed water program.
The University has a history of sustainability initiatives with its reclaimed water program in 1972. Eldridge said capturing and communicating such existing sustainability efforts will be incredibly helpful in moving forward.
“Being in [Governmental and Regulatory Affairs], I’ve seen just how sustainability plays a big role at Pepperdine, but that maybe it’s not always communicated as clearly to the campus community as it could in certain instances,” Eldridge said. He hopes that communicating the array of sustainability efforts in a centralized manner will lead to more fruitful opportunities.
Another avenue Eldridge said he intends to continue is good stewardship of Pepperdine’s natural resources.
“We have these awesome gifts from God bestowed on the campus from its size and location, nearness to the coast,” Eldridge said. “It’s in Los Angeles County, people want to be here and come from all over the world to be here.”
Camila Bonavia, who was the previous director and is now the assistant vice president for Administration and Campus Operations, continues to lend her experience and expertise, Eldridge said.
“I’m just extremely thankful for all of the forerunners of the Center who have paved the way,” Eldridge said.
Eldridge said he is blessed to have the guidance of those who have helped him grow into his new role.
“The foundational efforts the University did and has done is really incredible,” Eldridge said. “Before sustainability was a recognizable term or as much of a trending topic as it might be today, the University was investing in its resources and managing them in such an innovative and forward-thinking way and I think that’s really commendable and has served to form the roots of sustainability at Pepperdine that we get to enjoy now.”
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