Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 24, 1952
NUMBER 50, PAGE 1,9b-11

George Pepperdine College

(A Report On Fifteen Years Of Progress By Its Founder)

In order that all interested persons may have a better knowledge of the progress that is being made by our college; its problems, its work, its religious soundness and its fruits, I think a forthright statement by its Founder will be in order.

The supreme effort of my life has been and shall continue to be dedicated to serving young people through our college; that young men and women may be guided spiritually, trained educationally and prepared mentally to live happily and successfully, for the benefit of all humanity and the glory of God.

Any Christian who is blessed with some financial success has the grave responsibility of deciding what to do with his money. He does not wish to spend all of it on himself or his family. He does not want to hoard his fortune. So the question arises, how can he best use the money God has given to him?

As my business succeeded during the period from 1920 to 1987, this question concerned me more and more. After many years of prayer and thought I decided that the most good could be accomplished by establishing a privately endowed college where young people could get a standard academic education in a Christian environment. Knowing that worthwhile and ambitious young men and women are often poor, I wanted the college to be a place where it would not be too hard for an industrious young person to find work and earn a part of his expenses.

Following this idea Pepperdine College was established in Los Angeles in 1937. It was not my wish that the college bear my name but most of my friends thought it should. It was the high point of my life when the college was opened on a modest scale in the fall of 1937. One hundred sixty-seven students reported, a large proportion of them receiving some kind of financial help that enabled them to come. Now our enrollment is about one thousand.

A good college education is very expensive. It would probably interest you to know something of the investment that has been made in Pepperdine College. Approximately two million dollars have been invested in the plant — buildings, grounds, and equipment. A recent accrediting committee when visiting the campus estimated that the plant is now worth about five million dollars. An endowment of approximately a million dollars was set up. This fund is still intact and is being added to as contributions are made to the college. Our annual budget has been for some years in the neighborhood of a million dollars per year.

As I stated many times, I did not want and still do not want this college to be an adjunct of the church. I want it to be a good private educational institution with a Christian environment. Above all, it should not try to dominate or meddle in the affairs of the church or ask the churches for money. I do not want it to be a "preacher factory" although many young men who plan to preach have sought and continue to seek their college education here. I want the college, like a good home, to do its best to strengthen and deepen the faith of young people who attend.

Keep in mind the fact that we are only a college. We are not a church or an evangelistic society or a missionary society, but the individual Christians on the faculty try to instill into the hearts of all students the doctrine of the New Testament church and the spirit of the Christ.

In spite of the very troubled times since 1937, the college has had unusual success. Although educational standards are very high in this area, full accreditation was received from a regional association the second year of our operation. Numerous other recognitions of educational achievement have come during the years. Our faculty has steadily become stronger and our student body has grown rapidly in spite of the fact that free public education at the college level is easily available to young people in this state. It is encouraging to see that hundreds of families are willing to pay $450 per year tuition when they could go to a public college with almost no cost. These parents are willing to make the sacrifice so their children can be in a Christian environment and under Christian supervision.

Many of these young people and their families express their appreciation to me and Mrs. Pepperdine for this Christian environment. I wish space would allow me to quote from letters and other words of appreciation we have received through the years. All of this is very gratifying, but we are never satisfied. It is our purpose continuously to make the college better in every way.

My wife and I have been in very close contact with all phases of the college from its founding to the present.

We have been able to attend with considerable regularity the various functions and activities of the faculty and the young people on campus and off campus. We have attended chapel, parties, ballgames, picnics, banquets, plays, operas and all the various other activities that make up modern college life. We have seen these young people in their Sunday clothes, in their work clothes, and at play. We are very proud of these young men and women. It would do anyone's heart good to see how wholesome they are and how sincerely they go about their work of preparing themselves for greater service in life.

Now and then, of course, a student misbehaves, sometimes very seriously, and then we handle the case as wisely as we can, as we would want our own child handled in similar circumstances. Of course, no publicity is given to the discipline and correction of private cases. Through the years we have often marveled at the small number of these serious problems that have arisen among our young people.

It is gratifying to us to hear directly and indirectly from our connections in the city of the fine reputation the college has, both as an educational institution and as a Christian school for young people. These comments come from all sorts of people and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity. During all these years nothing has come to us to indicate that the college has anything but the highest reputation in this city and state.

Naturally, we have had many problems from the very beginning. With the help of God we have met and solved these problems as best we could. Being human we have made mistakes along the way. Doubtless, we will make others in the future, but our Board, working closely with President Tiner, Dean Pullias, and the faculty, will do the very best it can to do a good job of solving our problems.

In one sense one of our most serious problems is our location in the center of such a large population, although in another sense it makes for one of our greater opportunities. We would like to serve more young people from families of the church of Christ, but the church is still relatively weak and widely scattered here in the west. There are not many college-age young people of the churches of Christ in driving distance so that most of them must be boarding students. At the lowest figure we can maintain room, board, and tuition, the cost is $950 per year. This is more than $100 a month for basic cost not including incidentals. Not many of our church families out here can afford this amount of expense. In fact, it is remarkable how many students do manage to come through severe sacrifice on the part of their families and through great effort on the part of the young people. Unfortunately, we can give only a limited amount of scholarship, part-time work and other aid. Thus many students who would like very much to come cannot come because of financial reasons.

Another factor which has kept some Christian young people away has been the persistent effort on the part of some, perhaps well-meaning people, to give the college a bad name among the churches. The motive behind this effort is hard for me to understand, especially since these critics have practically never come to those who are responsible for the college with their criticisms, and also in the light of the fact that so many people are making a great sacrifice to carry on the work of the college. Sometimes we have seen these criticisms first in a journal or heard them second-hand through gossip. We are confident that if these critics were in more intimate touch with the work of the college as we are by first-hand contact, they would want to help rather than hinder it. At least we hope that would be the case as they learned the facts better.

Our state now has a population of over ten million people. More than four million of them are right here in Los Angeles county. Therefore, with the good reputation our college enjoys for high educational standards and Christian ideals, we naturally receive hundreds of applications from fine young people from the denominational churches. We do not think we should refuse such students.

As the two above mentioned problems are solved, we will have more students from families who are members of the church of Christ. In the meantime, parents should keep an important point in mind. The fact that we have a relatively small proportion of students from the churches of Christ, of course, does not mean that our student body is irreligious or not interested in spiritual things. On the contrary, our students, in the main, come from deeply sincere religious denominational homes where they have received excellent moral training. Morally, they are the very finest quality of young people for they must be very interested in Christian ideals to make the financial sacrifice necessary to attend a Christian college when they could attend State institutions without paying any tuition The allegation that our campus is irreligious, worldly, and immoral because of the low proportion of people who an members of the church of Christ is not in accordance with the facts. All our students study the Bible with us and most of them express a great interest in this study. Many have been baptized into Christ while with us. Sometimes our Bible teaching bears fruit in future years. Always our teaching is wholesome.

We have our problems in building and maintaining the kind of faculty we would like to have. This problem has been especially difficult for a new college which had to maintain very high academic standards, for not all well-trained Christian teachers are willing to make the financial sacrifice necessary to work at a Christian college. All our board members, all heads of departments except one, and all faculty who have anything to do with religious instruction are members of the church of Christ and, to my personal knowledge, are sound in the faith. We have a very strong Bible Department. We are sure that it is true in every way to the teachings of God's word. Brother Joseph W. White, son of the late L. S. White, is the newly appointed head of our Bible Department.

As our faculty problems arise in any department, as they do from time to time, we use our best judgment in solving them. Of course, we cannot solve or even discuss these personal and educational problems in the papers or in terms of gossip but must study the facts and do what, in our judgment, seems to be best for the situation. Naturally, we feel that those of us near the situation are in the best position to make proper decisions in these matters.

As evidence of our success in building a faculty in this distant area, forty-nine of the faculty are members of the church of Christ, about thirty of them are preaching or doing other church leadership work and eighteen professors who are members of the church of Christ have a Ph.D degree or its equivalent. We often must have part-time teachers and extras quickly. In such cases we must call upon the local colleges and universities to help out; however, we screen them carefully to avoid getting any anti-religious materialists or atheistic teachers.

II Great progress has been made for a new college and I think there is abundant assurance that the future holds even better promise of continued accomplishments.

As I think over the work of the college, five things stand out as the greatest source of joy to me:

1. Numerous young people and older ones have obeyed the Gospel because they were influenced by the teaching and environment of the college. This is the result of personal evangelism, which work is done by individuals on the faculty and the churches in the neighborhood, but many have become interested because of the Christian influence of the college. I wish we had kept account of the number, but I know it is large and the work goes on week after week.

Let me recite just here one example which impressed me. A young lady spoke to me voluntarily and said she wanted to tell me that G.P.C. had changed the entire course of her thinking and her attitude toward life. When she enrolled she and her parents were members of a denominational church. One day she went into the office of one of our professors and said that she wanted to talk about religious matters; that she formerly had some serious questions in her mind about scriptural teaching, but that when she heard our teaching and read certain literature given to all students, including my little booklet, "More Than Life," all those questions were answered and now she wanted to be baptized. The result was, after some visits to her home by another one of our professors, she and her brother and her parents were all baptized into Christ and are now faithful members of the church of Christ. This means a great deal to me.

2. A large number of young people who have received degrees from our college are giving full-time to preaching or other Christian work. I have recently gone over this list, and I am greatly encouraged to see the work they are doing both in this country and as leaders on foreign mission fields. On the foreign fields many of the men and women who are doing constructive and sacrificial work are our graduates.

In Germany, these men include brethren Gatewood, Palmer, Bennett and Bunn; in Italy, brethren Harold Paden, Mitchell, Bybee and Pownall; in Japan, brethren Harry Fox, Jr., Logan Fox and R. C. Cannon; in Alaska, brethren Field, Rowland and Boyd; in the Philippines, brother Brashears. In many cases, the wives of these missionaries are also our graduates. I think the excellent work being done by these missionaries and the other fine young preachers, speaks volumes for the faithfulness and evangelistic fervor of our graduates. Of the eighty-two that we specifically know about, nearly every one of them is of unquestioned soundness in the faith. To my knowledge only four or five at most have ever been questioned as to fundamental soundness. This, I believe, is a very good record.

In the face of all this good that is being done, some persons have seen fit to spread shameful and untrue rumors to the effect that a majority of our graduates have lost or become weakened in their Christian faith because of attending our college.

3. Having been in California since 1916, I have seen the church grow out here from eight or ten small congregations to over two hundred. Probably more than half of that growth has taken place since this college was established. The facts will show that the young men who have received their training here, both while they were studying and since, have had an important part in this growth of the church. They have started many new congregations and have worked faithfully with many weak ones.

The same is true of the men who have served on the faculty. A large number of them preach, especially helping with young churches, and others teach in Sunday schools, lead singing, and help in many other ways. They have certainly had an important part in the rapid growth of the church in this area. You might be interested to know that now about thirty of the faculty either preach or have important places of leadership in the churches here. These include, in addition to the President and the Dean, such men as Robert Broadus (Librarian), Hubert Derrick (Personnel), James Dixon (Business), A. O. Duer (Physical Education), J. D. Fenn (Business), S. H. Hall (Religion), Morgan Harlan (Religion), Leonard Lewis (Education), Emmett Long (Speech), Michio Nagai (Religion), Wade Ruby (English), Russel Squire (Music), Eugene White (Art), Joseph W. White (Religion), Woodrow Whitten (Social Science), Herman Wilson (English), and L. T. Vanderveer (Business Management). No one can say that these men are not sound, faithful, and sacrificing in their efforts to teach the Gospel of Christ to students and to strengthen and build up the church generally.

4. All of the young people who have attended the college since its founding have studied the Bible with us. Their teachers in the past have included such men as Batsell Baxter, C. R. Nichol, J. Eddie Weems, W. B. West, and J. P. Sanders. Now we have Joseph W. White, Wade Ruby, Morgan Harlan, Hubert Derrick, Herman Wilson, James Dixon, S. H. Hall, Michio Nagai, and others of like faith and devotion. I am confident that this teaching of the Bible will bear continuous fruit in the lives of these young people.

5. Many Christian young people have prepared themselves for service in business and the professions. They are serving as leaders and in other capacities wherever they are, and also they are taking up places of leadership in their business and professions in the various communities where they live. Perhaps it is natural that I should be especially interested in the Department of Business. It has been a great pleasure to see the work that Department has done under the direction of brother J. D. Fenn who preaches regularly in addition to his heavy work in the college. The world sorely needs Christian business men, so although I am interested in all our departments, I am especially pleased that business is one of the strongest and best.

It is gratifying to me to see that the attitude of the California churches toward the college generally is very good in spite of the unfriendly rumors that have been spread. This is evidenced by the fact that our Fellowship Dinners each month at the college dining room are often attended by strong representatives from two-thirds to three-fourths of the congregations in the immediate Los Angeles area. We think there is an increasing percentage of the California brethren who are learning that the various rumors and criticisms of the college are unfair and unfounded.

The friendly and helpful support and counsel of such great men as G. W. Riggs, pioneer Gospel preacher in California, have been a source of great encouragement to us in building the college.

Our administrative officers and our faculty, I think, are to be commended for their outstanding work and faithfulness. Although I have great respect for the training, dedication, and self-sacrificing spirit of all of our faculty, I should like to say a special word about the three men who bear the general responsibility of administering this college. These men are: Hugh M. Tiner, president; E. V. Pullias, dean; Lonnie T. Vanderveer, business manager.

I have known President Tiner since he came to California in 1929. He perhaps more than anyone else influenced me to establish a Christian college. All through these years I have admired his Christian faith, zeal, integrity, and educational leadership. He is highly respected in educational circles in this state. He is giving his life for this college at a great personal sacrifice.

Dr. Pullias, our Dean, is a very capable man. I have known him and worked closely with him for fourteen years. He is highly respected by the board, the faculty, the student body, and patrons for his part in building the college into a highly esteemed educational institution in so short a time and for his work with young people. Certain enemies have spread rumors, saying that Dr. Pullias is a modernist; that his teaching in psychology destroys faith in the students; that he compromises with sectarians and "affiliates" with denominational churches. He is capable of answering such slanderous charges himself, and he is answering them in detail.

If all critics of Dr. Pullias could live and work with him for awhile, they would observe his great devotion to Christ, his loyalty to the New Testament church and to the higher ideals of Christian education. They would appreciate the long tours of tireless work, even to the sacrificing of his health, for the good of young people and the Cause of Christ. Furthermore, I think they would find that as many young people from his Sunday morning Bible class have been baptized into Christ as from any other Bible class in any of our churches in the city. Such critics then, I think, would soon become ashamed of themselves and apologize for the wrong they have done to him and to the college.

Brother Vanderveer I have known a somewhat shorter time (about eight years), but have worked with him even more closely. Not only have I known his work as Business Manager of the college, but he has served as an elder with me at the Southwest congregation for a number of years. In addition to having fine business judgment and excellent educational experience, brother Vanderveer is a Christian gentleman of the highest character.

It is a source of great satisfaction to the board that through the years these three men have worked together in complete and unbroken harmony. They understand the purposes of this college and are dedicated to the attaining of these objectives. It is a great pleasure to me that the administration of Pepperdine College is in the hands of these men assisted by the heads of departments and other faculty, for I know as long as it is in such hands, it will not drift from the purposes for which it was founded.

Throughout the development of my business, the Western Auto Supply Company (from which I retired in 1939), I had as a sort of motto as the business grew: "We are gratified but never satisfied." The same is true of the college. Much remains to be done. Great care must be taken to keep the institution right as it moves forward to ever greater service to young people and glory to God. Its future looks very bright financially in spite of the severe reverses which have been suffered by our Foundation and in my personal financial affairs, from which I had hoped to build a large endowment for the college. Under the able leadership of President Tiner, men and women of financial means are beginning to help us in a substantial way. More of this will occur as the years pass and thus the ability of the college to render service will be increased.

Those of us who are so interested in this work — the board, the administration, and the faculty — will continue to do all we can to keep this college developing and to keep it right in the sight of God. We want it to continue to bless young people for many generations to come. Visit our campus whenever you can for you are always welcome and, above all, pray for us and the work here.

George Pepperdine Los Angeles, California


W. L. Douthitt, Box 1498, Laredo, Texas, April 16: "This will let you know of my new address and that I am ready for Sunday appointments only, within 126 miles of Laredo. I do not have time for any meetings, as I am connected with the radio station here on a full time basis."