A Message from President Gash: Pepperdine Restoration Plan:
We are living in extraordinary times. The novelty of the challenges we are facing in every sector of society and in every nation on earth are unrivaled in our lifetime. Those of us in the education sector find ourselves at the intersection of many of the biggest challenges—health and safety, economics, family stability, and employment—just to name a few. At Pepperdine, we also see an opportunity to shine our light in the midst of this storm. As C.S. Lewis astutely observed, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” I couldn’t agree more.
As more fully discussed below, we are proceeding with plans to resume in-person instruction this fall on our Malibu campus, our campuses throughout Southern California, and our international campuses around the world. ...
The Pepperdine Restoration Plan
I shared last week that the University is developing a comprehensive COVID-19 strategic preparedness plan, which we are formally calling the Pepperdine Restoration Plan. This plan is based upon the facts as we know them today and will evolve with changing public health orders and guidance that will be in place in August at the start of the fall semester. The plan is built on the following assumptions:
Classes in Person this Fall
One of the distinctive contributions that Pepperdine offers to higher education and to its students is small classes and direct access to nationally recognized faculty scholars and teachers of authentic faith. There is something very special and exceptional about the learning environment on our campuses. It is, therefore, our current plan to restore in-person classes to our campuses beginning no later than the start of the fall term in August.
Residential Living this Fall
We are blessed with one of the most beautiful and hospitable residential campuses in the world. When classes begin on our domestic and international campuses this fall, we plan to provide on-campus housing in a manner consistent with the health, safety, and distancing recommendations from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, as well as those of the countries where our international programs reside. None of Pepperdine’s residence halls are traditional dormitories with long hallways and large community bathrooms. Instead, the apartment/suite design of our residential housing is much more compatible with social distancing recommendations for mitigating the risk of spreading the virus in residential living environments. Additionally, we are planning on further mitigating risk by utilizing less than full capacity in student housing on our Malibu campus and limiting student occupancy to no more than two students per room.
Health and Safety is Paramount
In conjunction with providing in-person classroom instruction and on-campus housing this fall, we will be implementing rigorous protocols that meet best practice guidelines in the industry. While the precise measures are currently being developed and finalized, they will include appropriate isolation and/or quarantining of individuals within the community who may have been exposed to or contracted the virus, as well as specific protocols for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and treatment. The University is currently in the process of actively procuring all necessary supplies and equipment, including sufficient testing kits and processing units to allow for onsite rapid testing, in addition to preparing the facilities needed to support these efforts. The University will also be adding additional medical personnel to our existing full-time medical staff. Rest assured, the mitigation of risk for the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff is our paramount focus.
In recognition that our community includes individuals in vulnerable populations due to age, pre-existing health conditions, or compromised immune systems, we are working alongside our community to develop and implement appropriate temporary policies during the pandemic. The University is also making a substantial investment in classroom technology in an effort to equip all classrooms at each campus with the capability of capturing the in-person instruction via recording and/or live streaming to accommodate those who are unable to participate in traditional classroom environments. Further information on the technological capabilities will be provided soon to students and faculty. ...
A Community United
As we finalize the process of safely reopening our campuses, more detail on each of these elements will be shared in the coming weeks. For now, let me say thank you once again for the contributions you have made to this community in exceptionally challenging circumstances.
Like all of you, I eagerly anticipate our return to campus. But until that day comes, my prayer is that we continue to support one another and advance our mission using the attributes that define who we are and the work we do: our collective courage, creativity, character, compassion, and conviction, as well as our desire to communicate transparently and Pepperdine’s calling to advance Christ’s kingdom.