US Campuses

A Message from President Gash: Online Instruction for Fall Semester

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Since shifting to remote instruction in mid-March, Pepperdine leadership has been carefully monitoring the activity of COVID-19 and closely evaluating the evolving governmental guidance with a goal to reopen our campuses for in-person instruction as soon as it was safe for our Pepperdine community. Although it is still forthcoming, Governor Newsom’s long-awaited guidance for colleges and universities is expected to closely mirror the recently issued restrictions imposed last week for California’s public and private K-12 schools. This guidance, when applied to California’s four-stage reopening plan, effectively prohibits in-person instruction beginning in the fall for much of California, including in Los Angeles County.

This leaves uncertainty for colleges and universities, but little confidence that campuses will be allowed to reopen for the start of the fall term with in-person instruction in a way that reflects Pepperdine’s standards of excellence.

Online Instruction for the Fall Semester

Given these circumstances, we have decided we can best protect the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff by conducting our fall semester online. As you know, this was not the decision we had hoped or planned to make. Our faculty and staff and regents have worked tirelessly throughout the summer to prepare us for safe in-person instruction and on-campus housing. Although we are extremely disappointed that the renewed safety concerns are taking us in a different direction, we all believe this is the right decision for the health and safety of our Pepperdine family.

Therefore, even while we have been vigorously preparing for students to return to our campuses safely, we have also been preparing aggressively to provide a robust and excellent online educational experience just in case circumstances dictated that campuses could not reopen this fall. To that end, our faculty have also spent the summer preparing to provide world-class academic instruction online. Consequently, online classes will begin on the previously published schedules for each school.

On-Campus Housing

Our ability to house students on campus is also directly impacted by state and county restrictions. We are not presently permitted to reopen our Malibu campus for normal residential life. However, we expect to receive permission soon to house students who can demonstrate a compelling hardship which necessitates residing in on-campus housing this fall. The deans of each school will be outlining, in subsequent communications, the application process for seeking a housing hardship exemption.

In the event the government’s guidance changes during the semester, we may revisit our options for potentially broadening our on-campus housing availability.

Pepperdine Restoration Plan 

As we begin to return students with hardships to on-campus living, and if and when a broader return to campus can occur, our extensive summer planning efforts have positioned us to be fully prepared. Our Pepperdine Restoration Plan is complete and ready for implementation. We have instituted robust protocols to make our campuses safe environments. These protocols required significant investments in testing equipment, tracing resources, sanitation supplies and schedules, technology enhancements in our classrooms, plexiglass protection, and extensive changes and additions to our campuses to accommodate social distancing.

Looking Ahead

We have not tried in this communication to answer all of your specific questions because many of the detailed implications of this decision are school-specific. You can expect, therefore, to receive a detailed communication within the next 24 to 48 hours from the dean of your school that will specifically address the issues of housing, registration, schedules, and other important information. Pepperdine faculty and staff should expect a detailed communication from Human Resources this week.

Thank you for working together with us to make this fall a memorable and meaningful semester despite our challenging times. Pepperdine is an uncommonly strong community and we are equal to the task of taking on these challenges together and advancing our high calling as leaders in higher education.

Important COVID-19 Community Update – July 17

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Pepperdine’s highest priority is to preserve and protect the health, safety, and well-being of every current and future member of Pepperdine University while keeping our commitment to delivering an exceptional educational experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, we continue to closely monitor all guidance issued by local, state, and federal agencies. The purpose of this communication is to inform our Pepperdine community about a significant shift in California’s guidance for educational institutions released today by California governor Gavin Newsom that may impact the start of our fall semester.

Governor Newsom Update

At a news conference this afternoon, Governor Newsom provided guidance for K-12 schools that casts serious doubt on the ability of the vast majority of these schools to begin in person instruction in August. And while this guidance was not specifically directed at colleges and universities, it provides clear evidence the state is taking an increasingly aggressive approach to addressing the spread of COVID-19. During this news conference, Governor Newsom indicated that further guidance for colleges and universities, which was expected to be delivered no later than today, will be issued next week for all California colleges and universities.

Pepperdine’s Response

Pepperdine’s decision-making framework alluded to above remains consistent, and will remain consistent, as we adapt to the fluctuating environment caused by the virus’ unpredictable course. We understand that faculty, staff, students, and their families will be impacted by any revised decisions the University may be compelled to make about in-person instruction and on-campus housing for the fall term.  Pepperdine is committed to keeping the community informed as new developments occur.

In the meantime, students and their families are advised to defer the purchase of travel and lodging and making off-campus housing arrangements until Pepperdine, after receiving and evaluating Governor Newsom’s directives, provides further guidance to our community. For those seeking on-campus housing this fall, the University will suspend its current housing deadline until further notice. Additionally, the information regarding move-in date and housing assignments for new students that was expected to be sent out today will be delayed.  

Pepperdine Community Case Update

The University was notified this week of five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the Pepperdine community, including three staff members, a Graziadio student, and a GSEP student. All were reported to the Student Health Center and investigated through the University’s contact tracing protocols. Close contacts were notified. 

One of the staff members is a Mail Services employee who last reported to the Malibu campus on July 10. Although this staff member’s risk of spreading the virus while in the mailroom was low, and although no close contacts were identified for this case, the University is taking extra precautions and has closed the mailroom for today through Monday to allow for a deep cleaning and disinfection of the space. During this time, Mail Services will not be operating. If you have any questions related to an expected delivery or need for service, please contact Stan Jones, manager of mail and automation services, at 310.506.4293.

Although the CDC states it is unlikely the virus will spread from mail or packaging, the University has implemented additional precautionary measures. Additional details are available on the Mail Services Community page.

The University will continue to keep the community informed on COVID-19 developments as new information becomes available. The latest updates can be found on the University’s COVID-19 website and Emergency Information Page. For additional questions, please contact the COVID-19 Information Line at or 310.506.8111.

COVID-19 Community Update – July 10

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The University continues its planning, studying, and monitoring of the evolving COVID-19 updates in Southern California, throughout the nation, and around the world. For many in the Pepperdine community, the University leadership team recognizes these summer months have created an extended period of uncertainty around future planning, especially as the pandemic persists and new cases have continued to rise in the Los Angeles area. 

As the fall semester approaches, the University is communicating regularly with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. While the University is hopeful that plans currently being developed and announced will not require further revision, the flexibility of all students, faculty, and staff is deeply appreciated should conditions surrounding the pandemic dramatically change over the next several weeks. University leadership continues to be grateful for the patience, understanding, and resilience that the Pepperdine community has shown in the last several months.

Seaver College Fall 2020 Semester Update
Seaver College announced significant updates to its plans for the fall 2020 semester yesterday afternoon. In a message to the Seaver community, Dean Feltner shared important information regarding instructional format options, the suspension of all international programs, international student guidance, the 2020–2021 academic calendar, housing options, and tuition and fees. The full message is available on the University’s COVID-19 website, and questions about the message can be directed to the Seaver dean’s office.

Graduate School Updates
Like Seaver, each of the four graduate schools continues to finalize plans for the fall semester in line with current guidance from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Students enrolled across these schools have received updates from their respective deans regarding academic operations and program options for the fall, and the deans will continue to share additional information as the academic year approaches. Frequently asked questions are regularly updated on each school’s COVID-19 School Updates page, and additional questions can be directed to each school’s dean’s office.

Interim Protocols
Interim protocols restricting University-sponsored travel and campus visitors have been extended through at least July 24. Guidance around all University interim protocols is regularly updated on the COVID-19 Interim Protocols page.

Pepperdine Community Case Update
This week the University learned of three employees who received a positive COVID-19 test result, and two are currently hospitalized and undergoing treatment. The University has notified all individuals known to the University to have been in close contact with these individuals. The University community is encouraged to keep these employees in its prayers.

As the University continues with remote operations for faculty, staff, and students throughout the summer and into the fall, the University will continue to provide potential exposure notifications to impacted community members and general updates on the University’s COVID-19 website when it learns of newly reported cases within the community. 

President’s Briefing
The next President’s Briefing for faculty, staff, and students will be held Monday, July 13 at 9 AM Pacific Time. As a reminder, live and archived viewing for each of these special briefings are available on the President’s Briefing website.

The University will continue to keep the community informed on COVID-19 developments as new information becomes available. The latest updates can be found on the University’s COVID-19 website and Emergency Information Page.

Red Flag Warning Issued for June 7-8, 2020

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The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning beginning 6 pm Sunday, June 7, 2020, through 7 pm Monday, June 8, 2020, due to high winds, low humidity, and increased temperatures. Gusty winds up 50 mph along the Malibu coast are expected to begin by midnight Sunday night. Temperatures for our area will increase through Wednesday.

Red Flag Warnings issued by the National Weather Service identify time periods when conditions are ideal for wildfires. During Red Flag warnings it is especially important to:

  • Report any signs of smoke immediately to emergency responders. If on the Malibu campus call Public Safety at 310.506.4441. At all other locations report smoke by calling 911.
  • Use caution when disposing of cigarettes and ensure that they are completely extinguished.
  • Minimize any use of open flame in outdoor settings.
  • Consider taking down umbrellas and moving patio furniture inside.

During Red Flag conditions, Southern California Edison (SCE) may issue a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), a preemptive deenergization of electrical circuits in an attempt to prevent power lines from starting a potential wildfire. This may result in the loss of power for a Pepperdine campus. While SCE has promised to advise the community in advance, and University officials are in regular communication with SCE representatives, the community should nevertheless be prepared for the possibility of a PSPS. Further details on a PSPS and how you can prepare are available here

The Department of Public Safety is monitoring the situation and is prepared to respond to potential wildfires.