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September 1 President's Briefing Recap

The President's Briefing Recap summarizes important information for the Pepperdine community shared during each President's Briefing. Here's what you need to know this week:

University COVID-19 Updates

Los Angeles County has witnessed a decline in COVID-19 cases over the last week, though numbers may rise as additional K–12 schools, colleges, and universities begin to test faculty, staff, and students more frequently. The county's positivity rate is currently 2.53 percent.

Since August 1, 2021, the University has been made aware of 38 COVID-19 cases among community members. Following each reported case, the Student Health Center conducts its contact tracing protocols and provides directions for preventing further transmission.

Those who test positive must isolate for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status. Unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff identified as close contacts with individuals who test positive must quarantine for 10 days. Under modified quarantine guidelines outlined for colleges and universities by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH), vaccinated students identified as close contacts must quarantine for three days and take a COVID-19 test following the three days. During the three days of quarantine, vaccinated students may continue to stay in their designated residence halls and attend in-person classes. Those who receive negative test results may then resume their normal routine.

Proximity notices will continue to be delivered to those who are not identified as a close contact, but who may have been in areas or classes with a person who tested positive. The current vaccination rate of Pepperdine students, faculty, and staff who have reported their vaccination status to the University is above 94 percent.

The University will continue its weekly screening testing for students, faculty, and staff who plan to visit any Pepperdine campus across Southern California. The Pepperdine community will be notified of required testing through weekly emails from SwabSeq UCLA and asked to follow a link to register and schedule a testing date and site. Results will typically be available within one business day and delivered via email or text message, depending on the registrant's indicated preference. With Labor Day next Monday, campus test sites will be closed that day and will resume operations on Tuesday.

Per current LACDPH guidelines, face coverings are required at all indoor public spaces at all Pepperdine campuses.

Science Update

A COVID-19 study published this week conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, demonstrated that breakthrough cases are less likely to be symptomatic, but those who were symptomatic carried similar viral loads to unvaccinated symptomatic individuals. The study also highlights that breakthrough cases are caused by waning immunity to mutated variants and higher rates of viral load shed by those infected with the coronavirus Delta variant. According to the study, COVID-19 booster shots will strengthen waning immunity while helping protect against evolving variants.

Another case study noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about a symptomatic elementary school teacher in Marin County, California, who infected several students during a classroom book reading highlights the efficacy of wearing face coverings and the high viral loads that likely accounted for the infections.


Wildlife Update

The University's Malibu and Calabasas campuses are located in areas with known presence of wildlife, including mountain lions. Safety tips regarding wildlife encounters and reports of any confirmed mountain lion sightings on campus will be shared with the Pepperdine community via email and on the University's Emergency Information Page.

Performing Arts Update

The Pepperdine Fine Arts Division Theatre and Music Departments will present 
in-person performances of Mamma Mia! from November 12 to November 20, 2021.

Athletics Update

The Waves men's golf team is ranked number 1 in the US, the women's volleyball team is ranked number 21 in the US, and the women's soccer team is ranked number 23 in the US. The men's cross country team and water polo teams will begin to compete on September 4, 2021.

Faculty Achievement Update

Elizabeth R. Smith, assistant professor of communication and director of Pepperdine Graphic Media at Seaver College, has been recognized with the 2021 Distinguished Media Adviser Award by the College Media Association for her work as the faculty advisor for the Graphic student newspaper.

Academics Update

As Pepperdine emerges from pandemic conditions, the University's enrollment numbers remain strong across each of the five schools. As of August 31, 2021, 7,319 students are enrolled in on-ground classes and 2,860 students are enrolled in online classes.

To encourage the continued connection in the community, provost Jay Brewster offered three events for community members to engage with. First is the opening of "SIS," an exhibit of Rikkí Wright's photography series exploring Black sisterhood, in Payson Library. The series powerfully highlights the complex dynamics of human relationships. An opening reception and artist talk with Wright will be held on September 9, 2021, at 4 PM.

Second, the School of Public Policy will host its annual Constitution Day Lecture on September 13, 2021, at noon. Featured lecturer Ian Rowe, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and esteemed scholar, will share how the Constitution connects us.

Lastly, on October 23, 2021, the Human-Centered AI conference will be held at Pepperdine's Malibu campus and livestreamed. The conference, made possible by Fabien Scalzo, associate professor of computer science at Seaver College, will include a keynote presentation from Stefano Soatto, vice president of artificial intelligence at Amazon Web Services, and other notable speakers in the field including Graziadio Business School professor Charla Griffy-Brown.

WASC Visit Update

Every seven to 10 years, representatives from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accrediting agency visit Pepperdine campuses to reevaluate the University's standing. This year's hybrid in-person and virtual visits will take place from October 19 to October 22, 2021. WASC will directly contact select members of the Pepperdine community via confidential email to provide comments that will be taken into consideration during the inspection process.

Join the President's Briefings

The next President's Briefing will be held at 8:45 AM on Wednesday, October 6, 2021. Archived viewing is available on the President's Briefing website.