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Quest for Distinction: Pepperdine University in the 20th Century


Product Description

In 1937, Kansas auto parts magnate George Pepperdine founded a small, faith-based college in south central Los Angeles devoted to academic excellence and “beautiful Christian living.” By the end of the twentieth century, the institution named in his honor would rise above funding problems, accreditation troubles, tragedy, and controversy to become one of the nation’s top universities. In this lively, meticulously researched narrative history, renowned historian and Seaver College Dean Emeritus W. David Baird explores Pepperdine’s evolution and introduces us to the remarkable men and women behind it. You’ll meet such influential figures as Batsell Baxter, the prominent Churches of Christ leader who became Pepperdine’s first president; “Mr. Pepperdine” M.  Norvel Young, whose vision transformed Pepperdine from a small liberal arts college to a prestigious university with schools and campuses around the world; William S. Banowsky, the charismatic young preacher who championed the creation of the Malibu campus; and Howard A. White, who reaffirmed the school’s commitment to a Christian mission by defending and strengthening its historic connection to the Churches of Christ. Through their stories and others, Baird paints a vivid portrait of the university’s quest to distinguish itself academically without sacrificing the Christian principles it was founded on. 

About the Author

Seaver College Dean Emeritus W. David Baird came to Pepperdine as the Howard A. White Professor of History in 1988 and served as Seaver Dean from 1998 to 2008. Baird holds degrees in history and geography and has written or edited 11 books and numerous articles, most on the history of the American West and Native Americans. A native of Oklahoma, Baird and his wife, Jane, have lived in Malibu since 1988. 

Praise for Quest for Distinction

"David Baird is not only a respected historian, he is a master storyteller. Quest for Distinction is a candid and important account that leads inexorably to the conclusion that Pepperdine has been blessed time and again through the providence of God. The path is richly textured, and the journey has sometimes been described as one of the most inspiring in American higher education. My hope is that the reader will conclude that the quest, described by my friend and colleague, is only beginning." - Andrew K. Benton, President, Pepperdine University

"The credibility of this book rises from the depth of research and frankness of the story. One will learn a lot about church relations and the challenges experienced in developing a West Coast Christian-oriented college. Quest for Distinction is interesting, revealing, and compelling." - Lynn A. McMillon, Distinguished Professor and Dean Emeritus, Oklahoma Christian University, and President, The Christian Chronicle

"The consummate historian, Baird recounts Pepperdine University’s growth to an internationally recognized Christian institution of higher learning from a small, inner-city college. Baird makes it clear that Pepperdine’s achievements, although hard-won, have arisen from visionary leaders committed to academic excellence, American civic values, and Christian faith." - Cyndia Clegg, Distinguished Professor of English, Pepperdine University

Other Details

W. David Baird
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