Korn Ferry Seeks New President for Pepperdine University

September 4, 2018 – As the new academic year gets underway, a number of universities across the country are looking to install new leaders. Pepperdine University has enlisted Korn Ferry to find its next president and chief executive officer. Andrew K. Benton, who has held the role since 2000, recently announced his plans to step down at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year.

Mr. Benton has committed to serving as president until his successor is found and will later serve as president emeritus. Applications will be accepted until Oct. 12 and finalists are expected to be announced by Pepperdine’s selection committee in early January, before the committee conducts interviews. A final decision is planned for March. The new president will take office in July.

Pepperdine, which is located in Malibu, CA, seeks an individual who will be focused on the school’s Christian mission and academic reputation, said Korn Ferry. As such, the school’s new leader will be expected to help prepare students for lives of purpose, service and leadership while balancing an unwavering commitment to academic excellence and Christian values; serve as a tireless champion of students, elevating the student experience both in and out of the classroom; cultivate and nurture an environment that attracts, motivates and retains the highest quality and best-performing faculty; as well as serve as a relentless advocate of excellence in both teaching and research.

A Critical Role

The job also requires that the new president lead and actively participate in fundraising and relationship development, including capital campaigns and annual fund activities, cultivating and soliciting major gifts from individual donors, corporations, foundations and other supporters of the school’s mission.

The president will be charged with developing and articulating a clear vision for the future, building consensus with the regents and other constituencies; identifying and implementing strategic plans that will ensure the ongoing success and vitality of the institution; evolving the existing financial model to ensure the proper management, control and enhancement of all university resources, tangible and intangible, and ensure the overall financial stability of the university; and stewarding the university’s assets ($1.85 billion), endowment ($1 billion) and operating budget ($500 million), said the search firm.

Related: Hunt Scanlon Top 50 Non-Profit & Higher Education Search Firms

Other duties include: promoting and ensuring a culture of reasoned risk taking; leading innovation and transformation; building and developing a preeminent staff; providing leadership, mentorship and direction to the management team; working in close harmony with the regents to lead the senior administrative team; and promoting and building collaborative and interdisciplinary relationships among the schools within Pepperdine University as well as other institutions and partners.


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A Dynamic Leader

The ideal candidate is expected to have, among other qualities: the academic or related background sufficient to lead a private, Christian institution; the experience and skills to manage and guide a dynamic, premier university; ability to lead fiscally responsible budgeting and make tough financial and resource decisions; demonstrated experience and proven leadership in fundraising; the ability to build and strengthen alumni support for the university; a record of commitment to strengthening all manners of diversity and open communication; experience overseeing an organization with multiple sites; and the ability to advocate for Pepperdine University.

A strong academic background is also required for consideration; an earned doctorate or terminal degree is preferred (Ph.D., Ed.D., D.B.A. or J.D.).

Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms

Among the most preeminent Christian universities in the country, Pepperdine has a unique role in higher education, defined by its Christian mission and relationship to Churches of Christ. The university is committed to both scholarship and spiritual development in the lives of every student and values leadership formed by its faith heritage. Therefore, a necessary qualification for the next president will also be active membership within a congregation of this body of churches, said Korn Ferry.

Highly Ranked

Ranked in the top 50 national universities by U.S. News & World Report, Pepperdine University enrolls approximately 7,800 full-time and part-time students in its five colleges and schools with approximately 380 full-time faculty and over 1,110 full-time staff. Pepperdine has five graduate campuses across Southern California, six permanent international campuses, and additional study and internship programs on six continents.

Pepperdine has top-ranked programs for graduate and undergraduate studies, with 73 degree programs and a 12.5:1 student teacher ratio across five schools. Pepperdine’s NCAA athletic program comprises eight men’s and nine women’s Division I teams, 13 national championships and 12 individual championships. Its graduates include 48 Olympians and six gold medalists.

Related: Why Universities Have Stepped Up Efforts to Involve Search Firms

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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