Benton's Work in Christian Education Nets Distinguished Alumnus Honor Andy Benton

Dawn Shelton (89)

Andy Benton is not in Kansas anymore. 

The journey that took him from his Kansas home didn’t lead to Oz, but to the close-knit campus at Oklahoma Christian, and eventually to Malibu, California, where he serves as president of Pepperdine University.

While he isn’t at OC anymore, his alma mater remains near and dear to his heart. 

“I am the product of many wonderful mentors who saw something in me that I really didn’t believe,” said Dr. Benton, who will be named Distinguished Alumnus at Homecoming. “Oklahoma Christian opened my eyes to the world, and I am grateful.”

Dr. Benton was a member of the class of 1974 – the greatest class ever, according to all of that year’s grads, including OC alumni director Bob Lashley. 

His other claims to fame include serving as Student Senate president and being one of the Nine Noises, where he learned to never wear bib overalls and red and white shirts in public, and that “spelling the word Eagles with one’s body is harder than it looks.”

Another claim to fame?

“I am a proud founding member of Delta Gamma Sigma. There, I said it. We were at OC during a time when a little, shall we say, ‘spark’ was needed,” he said. “Sure, we tested the rules and proved a little troublesome here and there, but so many of our number have gone on to meaningful careers in society and the church. The association and the type of people we attracted then – and now – is not coincidental.”

After he graduated from Oklahoma Christian, Andy pursued his law degree at Oklahoma City University and spent 10 years working in the OC administration for former president Dr. J. Terry Johnson (64). 

In 1984, he moved to Pepperdine and worked in various senior administrative roles. He was named Pepperdine’s president in 2000, succeeding his friend David Davenport. 

Spending a career in service to others in higher education, Andy has a keen perspective on what it is to be an alumnus of a university, whether it’s Pepperdine or Oklahoma Christian.

“No college or university can be successful without abundant alumni support. We need a robust, supportive and active alumni association. If we have benefited from OC (and I have immensely), we need to invest ourselves in its future,” he said. “The very phrase alma mater calls us home.” 

Andy and his wife Debby (Strickland 74) will be “home” in November for Homecoming festivities. They plan to drive the city streets, probably stop for a Johnnie’s burger and fries, and reminisce.

“Oklahoma Christian should make us all proud,” Andy said. “If each one of us would give just a little, speak up just a little louder or show a little more pride, we all will benefit and make a significant difference. I believe that with all my heart. I simply will never forget where it all began for me.”

Fall 2010

View more stories from the Fall 2010 issue of Vision magazine.