Pepperdine’s new president

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Andrew K. Benton assumed his new duties as the president of Pepperdine University Friday. Benton replaces David Davenport, who last March announced he would be stepping down.

But Benton is no stranger to Malibu or its campus. He has served as executive vice president since 1991. Still, the challenges that lie ahead have given him pause for thought.

“I feel like I should be the best prepared presidential successor in the university’s history,” he told The Malibu Times.

“I had a 16-year-tutelage under the previous president, but sometimes I feel woefully underprepared. The issues take on a totally different meaning when you’re the one in charge,” Benton said.

Modesty aside, Benton brings impressive credentials to the school. He is a 1974 graduate of Oklahoma Christian University where he earned a degree in American Studies and served as assistant to the president from 1975 to 1984. At the same time, he earned his law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law and began a practice. He came to Pepperdine in 1984, and over the years has become widely admired by students and staff for his leadership skills.

On the home front, he has been married for 25 years to his wife Deborah and is the father of two.

The 47-year-old President was selected after a nationwide search that included 40 nominees who were interviewed by faculty, students, alumni and administrators.

Clearly many on campus have greeted the news with enthusiasm. “Andy Benton is an outstanding choice to lead Pepperdine into the future,” said former president Davenport. “His leadership skills and experience have prepared him well and I believe the university is in good hands.”

Davenport’s sentiments were echoed by Pepperdine University Board of Regents Chairman Thomas G. Best who said, “We are convinced that Andrew Benton is best equipped to lead Pepperdine University into the next millennium with academic excellence and Christian values.”

Benton’s formal inauguration ceremony will take place September 23.