Latest Event Updates

A Message from President Gash: Pepperdine’s Emergency Preparedness 

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Each year, Pepperdine prepares a message like this one to better inform our parents and students of the University’s emergency response plans. Most years, this message shares what Pepperdine does to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe. In other years, and especially these last two and a half years during which we have collectively had to address a global pandemic and the challenges it poses for our society, it also serves as a reminder of how important awareness, emergency preparedness, and resilience are for the entire University—and the role each member of our community has in managing our collective response. 

As we bring our community together again this school year, you can take comfort in knowing that health and safety are our top priority, and we will continue to have COVID-19 infection control measures to minimize the pandemic’s impact within our campus community, including optional free testing and contact tracing to reduce transmission when cases are identified. Additionally, we remain poised to address other natural and man-made disasters. Pepperdine University is like a small well-equipped city. We have fire trucks and emergency response personnel; capable facilities employees able to respond 24/7; medical supplies, food, and water; health and counseling centers; and numerous other resources available to us in an emergency. Additionally, faculty and staff who live on campus are present and active in assisting the University.

Through diligent training, equipping, studying, staffing, and commitment, we are prepared to be our own first responders until local and state agencies reach campus. We are prepared to be self-reliant in the event utilities and other infrastructure services are disrupted. When the University activates an emergency response plan, our expertly trained staff gather support personnel, disseminate information, and, if necessary, open pre-planned relocation centers. The University has an exhaustive and well-rehearsed protocol to evaluate risks and make decisions in the best interests of both our community and our campuses. In fact, we have used this protocol throughout the pandemic to guide our response.

I can attest, from personal experience, that in the middle of an emergency at Pepperdine, a sense of calm permeates our community. Though it may not be known by the public or reported on the news, we know it is because we have done our due diligence to prepare accordingly. One of our greatest tasks is to transmit accurate information from, to, and within the campus community. Our emergency notification system, Everbridge, allows the University to send voice messages to the cell, office, and home phones of every faculty, staff, and student, as well as deliver text messages and emails. The system is dependent upon each of our community members entering his or her contact information into the University web portal that feeds into Everbridge, and students receive instruction on how to do so. 

In addition, the latest updates and decisions of the University’s Emergency Operations Committee are posted on Pepperdine’s Emergency Information Page. You may also call our Department of Public Safety at 310.506.4442 (non-emergency line) or 310.506.4441 (emergency line) at any time during the day or night. During the pandemic we have also opened a COVID-19 Information Line, or 310.506.8111, which is staffed Monday through Friday during normal business hours. The only things that may impair our communications are things we simply cannot plan for or control. Throughout all of this, our every effort is directed toward protecting our community and returning to safe and normal operations, including classes, as soon as possible.

Furthermore, we use the StepUp campaign to emphasize the importance of looking out for one another, both in emergency situations and in daily life. Through the StepUp campaign, our students, faculty, and staff have received valuable bystander intervention and Title IX training that encourages participants to step up and speak up for themselves and others who may be in distress. 

Another instrumental tool in this effort is the LiveSafe campus safety app, which allows users to submit emergency and non-emergency messages to Public Safety; utilize SafeWalk, a person-to-person virtual security escort allowing users to ensure their loved ones reach their destinations safely; and see a full list of the University’s emergency procedures. Importantly, the app also works for users who are traveling or participating in one of our international programs. Further, we partner with International SOS, a global emergency medical and security services firm that provides assistance to our students, faculty, and staff abroad. 

Pepperdine maintains a multi-disciplinary threat assessment team that meets whenever necessary to immediately address potential threats to our community. The team includes University leaders, members of our Counseling Center, and outside experts and law enforcement when applicable. The group is experienced and well-trained, and it always works to serve the best interests of the University community and the individual for whom the concern was raised. 

Our emergency plans are living documents, regularly updated to include the latest best practices adapted to best serve our community. In addition to learning from our own experiences, we also study disasters around the world to glean lessons learned and adapt them to our circumstances. These planning revisions and careful preparation place us in a state of readiness as we move into this new school year. While we hope each year our emergency response plans remain unused, they stand ready to be used as they have been during this pandemic. 

All of us at Pepperdine are excited for the school year ahead, and we look forward to completing it successfully—and safely—with each student who has been entrusted to us.

University COVID-19 Updates

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Los Angeles County experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases in mid-July driven by the BA.5 variant. While case rates and hospitalizations peaked at the end of July, data indicates that positive cases are showing signs of slowing and hospitalizations appear to have plateaued. As University leadership continues to monitor conditions, community members are reminded of the following:

  • Pepperdine will require entry testing for all students 72 hours prior to arriving on campus for the fall semester in order to reduce the risk of transmission within the community. Students are required to complete the Entry Test Reporting Form and should take their entry test prior to arrival on campus, not at a COVID-19 testing site on any Pepperdine campus. Returning faculty and staff members are not required to test before arriving on campus for the fall semester. 
  • The University’s COVID-19 vaccination policy remains in effect. All new students accessing any University campus or facility must upload proof of compliance by August 15, 2022, to indicate that they have been vaccinated or to claim an exemption for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. All new faculty and staff must also notify the University of their current vaccination status by completing the COVID-19 Vaccination Notification Form.
  • PCR COVID-19 testing sites remain open and free of charge on Pepperdine’s campuses. Testing remains optional for all community members. Face coverings are optional but encouraged for anyone who wishes to wear them indoors. All campus testing sites will continue to provide face coverings free of charge. 
  • Faculty, staff, and students who have tested positive for COVID-19 must continue to report positive test results using the START Form. Test results received from the on-campus PCR testing sites are automatically uploaded to the Start form. 

Further details on each of the items above are available at or by contacting the University’s COVID-19 information line at 310.506.8110 or via email at

Expected Fall 2022 COVID-19 Prevention Measures

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As the community prepares for the 2022–2023 academic year, Pepperdine continues to prioritize the health and safety of our community. For your awareness and planning, the University is sharing the following overview of COVID-19 protocols currently in effect and expected for fall 2022:

  • Face Coverings: Masks are currently optional indoors, though L.A. County Public Health officials have indicated they will reinstate an indoor mask mandate if COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers move the county into the CDC’s “High” Community Level for two consecutive weeks. Based on current projections, an indoor mask mandate could be in place by the end of July 2022. Once initiated, public health officials have noted the mask mandate will remain in place until Los Angeles County returns to the CDC’s “Medium” COVID-19 Community Level and remains in that level for two weeks.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Policy: With the objective of prioritizing the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students, while ensuring the highest standards of academic excellence and a transformative student experience, the University requires that all faculty, staff, and students accessing any University campus or facility who do not claim an exemption be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine per the University’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. If you have not already done so, you must submit your information by August 15, 2022 by using one of the links below:
  • Entry Testing: As a precautionary measure and screening tool for the start of the fall 2022 term, all students are required to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours before arriving on campus and log the result on the Entry Test Reporting Form. If you test positive, do not come to campus, isolate, and complete the START Form. If you test negative, you may proceed to campus.
  • Optional On-Campus PCR Testing: Screening tests will continue to be available on campus free of charge to Pepperdine community members at campus testing sites.
  • START Form: The University will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases. All community members are required to complete the START Form to report a positive COVID-19 test result. Additionally, the form should be used to notify the University of a close contact exposure that has resulted in symptoms. (You do NOT need to complete the START Form if you received your positive test result through Pepperdine’s screening testing program as those results are automatically shared with University officials and processed accordingly.)
  • Contact Tracing: The University will continue to conduct contact tracing of positive cases and the associated close contacts. While many other institutions of higher education have scaled back contact tracing efforts, Pepperdine continues to invest in supporting this important tool to limit the spread of COVID-19 within the Pepperdine community. 
  • Isolation: Community members with COVID-19 are required to isolate themselves from the University community for the duration of their isolation period. The University will assign residential students to University isolation housing upon testing positive for COVID-19. Commuter students and employees should be prepared with a plan to isolate.
  • Quarantine: Quarantine is no longer required for close contacts, regardless of vaccination status, unless symptoms arise. Instead, exposed contacts are required to wear a mask when around others for 10 days from their exposure to a positive case and to test three to five days after their last exposure.

As the pandemic progresses, while some mandates will occur (like the anticipated mask mandate listed above), L.A. County Public Health is largely moving away from detailed, prescriptive protocols and toward recommendations that guide individual decision-making based on personal risk tolerances. With the University community’s cooperation, Pepperdine will be ready for another successful academic year. Further details on each of the items above are available at or by contacting the University’s COVID-19 information line at 310.506.8110 or via email at

COVID-19 Community Update – May 10

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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recently updated their Higher Education quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing rules, which Pepperdine is required to follow. The updates signify a shift from broad community mandates to individual personal responsibility, reflecting public health’s evolving pandemic response. 

Accordingly, the University is implementing the following changes, effective Tuesday, May 10, 2022:

Close Contacts and Quarantine 

The definition of a close contact has been generally broadened to those who “shared the same indoor airspace” with a COVID-19 positive case for 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period. Under this definition in a college campus setting, “indoor airspace” includes, but is not limited to, classrooms, offices, and other similarly sized spaces. In large indoor spaces, close contacts are only those within six feet of a COVID-19-positive individual for 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period. At Pepperdine, this includes spaces such as the cafeteria, the libraries, and large lecture halls. 

Close contacts, regardless of vaccination status, are not required to quarantine as long as they remain asymptomatic. However, all close contacts are required to wear a mask for 10 days from their exposure while around others indoors unless actively eating or drinking. Close contacts are also required to test three to five days after their exposure. 

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing notifications will change to reflect the updated close contact definition. Close contacts identified through the new “shared indoor airspace” definition will be emailed regarding their exposure by contact tracers. Close contacts, defined as being within six feet of the COVID-19 positive individual for 15 minutes or more, will be called by contact tracers.  

The University will continue to move through the pandemic together and, with your cooperation in following these protocols, help protect the health of the University community. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the University’s COVID-19 information line at 310.506.8111 or