This year marks the 35th anniversary of the School of Education at Pepperdine University. The history of the School of Education and how it later joined with the Psychology Division to form the Graduate School of Education and Psychology is rich with heritage and innovation. Inspired by the University’s founder, George Pepperdine, who believed the purpose of higher learning was to make the world better, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology has always placed people at the top of its list of values.
From the beginning, the discipline of education has played a prominent role in the academic programs at Pepperdine. Beginning in 1960, a master’s program in education was established at Pepperdine College on a 34-acre estate called Vermont Knolls, at the corner of 79th and Vermont in Los Angeles. During that time, teachers trained at Pepperdine College were in such demand in the Los Angeles school system that one Los Angeles public school administrator said the only thing wrong with Pepperdine’s program was that it did not produce enough teachers to meet the city’s needs. With a growing emphasis upon the statewide need for improving the educational techniques in the public schools, Pepperdine accepted leadership for expanding its existing Department of Education into a professional school of education. The school was formally established on January 1, 1971. The mission of the school was to prepare teachers to not only teach the fundamentals, but also enrich the lives of their students and their communities. At the helm of the School of Education was Dean Olaf Tegner, an alumnus of Pepperdine College and former chair of the Education Department. Tegner would go on to represent the Graduate School of Education and Psychology for six decades and play an integral role in Pepperdine’s history, traditions, and legacy.
Although psychology had been part of the curriculum since Pepperdine College first opened its doors, the Division of Psychology joined the School of Education to form the Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) in 1982. As a graduate school, GSEP has not only offered an excellent education and the means to serve the community, but has provided an inspiration for change for all associated with the school. The last reunion on the Vermont campus took place in 1981, the same year GSEP moved to West Los Angeles. At a new campus, GSEP’s faculty continued to develop fresh ideas, from a cutting-edge online education program to a master’s degree program in educational computing, which was the first of its kind. GSEP was leading the way in higher education.
While Pepperdine maintained a psychology clinic during the Vermont campus days, it had long been the sentiment of the faculty to establish another clinic. In 1988, a psychological and educational clinic was opened at the new Culver City campus. Outreach and service to the community grew as additional community counseling clinics opened at the Irvine and Encino campuses.
A student teaching program was implemented in 1993, as part of the master of arts in education and teacher credential program. That same year the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing granted full approval for the Graduate School’s teaching and administrative credential programs.
GSEP’s academic programs continued to expand to meet the needs of the students and the community. To stay current, GSEP altered the historically successful institutional management program in 1997 and made leadership more of an emphasis. The program became an Ed.D. with four concentrations: educational technology; organizational leadership; organization change; and educational leadership, administration, and policy.
In 2003, GSEP relocated back to West Los Angeles, where the academic programs continued to flourish. As a leader in innovation, the Graduate School developed a new program in 2005, a master of science in workplace learning and performance, which serves the needs of those who desire to learn the human side of instructional design and performance technology.
To commemorate 35 years as a formal graduate school and all the achievements that have taken place thus far, a celebration was held at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica on March 11, 2006. The event welcomed keynote speaker Dr. Miroslav Volf, the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School and director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. Volf, who is a distinguished author, spoke on “Wrongdoing, Memory, and Reconciliation,” which ties in with GSEP’s focus on diversity and community.
GSEP’s future is extremely bright. The student body and alumni continue to build connections throughout the world. By preparing the next generation of teachers, administrators, therapists, and counselors, GSEP continues to build upon the University’s rich heritage. The next 35 years will continue to show GSEP as an inspiration for change.