Pepperdine to offer LGBT scholarship

Pepperdine University has announced a new scholarship for “students who have demonstrated a commitment to the LGBT community,” according to the university’s student newspaper, The Pepperdine Graphic

The scholarship was officially introduced on Tuesday, Feb. 12, according to the newspaper. Applications for the scholarship are being accepted through March 31. It was funded by Pepperdine donors Frank James Vinci and George Bushnell Ellsworthe, and will be called the Vinci-Ellsworthe scholarship. 

The Graphic quotes the online application for the scholarship as “a needs-based scholarship given to those ‘promoting the health (mental or physical) and wellness of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community.” A university official added that the scholarship is open to students of all sexual orientations. 

The move appears to be a departure from the university’s recent stance on LGBT issues. Last January, the school refused to recognize Reach OUT, a group of LGBT student advocates, as an official university club. The university has also had other previous highly publicized campus conflicts over its official position on students and LGBT issues. 

However, Pepperdine Provost Darry Tippens cast the scholarship not as a change in policy but as a continuation to what he called a commitment to diversity. From the Graphic:

“The scholarship does not indicate any new direction or policy at the university,” Tippens wrote. “Rather, the scholarship supports the university’s longstanding commitment to provide a welcoming environment to all students, regardless of orientation. I do not foresee any changes in the character, mission or constituencies of the university. We remain a seriously Christian university, dedicated to the same principles and expectations that are articulated in our various documents, policies and handbooks.”

Noelle Marion (‘10) is a recent alumna and creator of the Facebook group “Pepperdine Support for Reach OUT and the LGBT Community,” whose main purpose is to get Reach OUT recognized as an official club on campus.

“I believe the scholarship will have an undoubtedly positive effect on the LGBT community on campus,” Marion wrote in an email. “The allocation of this scholarship is an indication that the university acknowledges that LGBT students (and supporters) are represented in the Pepperdine family and more notably that these students are worthy of positive recognition.

“It will provide prospective LGBT students with the understanding that there is an LGBT community in the midst of Pepperdine’s conservative and religious climate and that these individuals are being financially supported by the university,” she continued.

To read the full Graphic story, click here. What do you think of Pepperdine offering an LGBT scholarship? Are you surprised? 

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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