March 1, 2017 | By Alexa Brown—Dean Al Sturgeon has held many roles at Pepperdine School of Law: Student (JD ’11), Director of Academic Success, Dean of Students, and Dean of Graduate programs. Now, Sturgeon will be known by another title in the Pepperdine community: Minister. He assumes the role of University Church of Christ Preaching Minister, beginning on March 1.
On Tuesday, February 28th, over 100 students, faculty, and staff came to support Sturgeon in his transition, and to thank him for his service to the law school. 3L Myriam Sabry began the farewells with a beautiful speech:
We first met when I was a young, post LSAT, prospective Pepperdine law student, sitting in your office trying to decide which law school to attend. You instantly made me feel like we had a very special connection. Leaving your office, not only did I know that Pepperdine was the law school for me, but also that you would have a very strong impact in my life for the next three years. And I was right…What I realized over the next three years was that this special bond between us…was a reflection of you. Your compassion, kindness and ability to celebrate every single one of us individually is because you are extraordinary. And we thank you for that.
We thank you [for] putting our needs before your own. We thank you for having a patient ear for all of us who stop by your office. We thank you for your friendly smile that was very much needed during finals. We thank you for creating open forums for student discussions so we could express our views when the world got scary. We thank you for your resilience in the face of our constant complaining. We thank you for opening your home for interfaith meetings, a place where students of all faiths could come and celebrate each other challenge each other and even cry together, and still feel safe. We thank you for adding an air of relief when things got tough. And most importantly, thank you for making us all feel like we are your absolute favorite.
You are a role model to us all Dean Sturgeon. This isn’t goodbye, because your fingerprints will always be on Pepperdine law school.”
Professor Jeff Baker mentioned Sturgeon’s “continual kindness,” and Professor Paul Caron testified to him as a “humble, quiet leader, who can speak the least and have the most impact in a room…I am in awe of the amount of energy and time you’ve put into this job.”
Speakers also included Vice Dean Shelley Saxer, Dean Deanell Tacha, Professor Sukhsimranjit Singh, Professor Jim Gash, Randi Redman (Straus Institute), Alumni Relations Director Jessie Fahy, and a slew of students thanking Sturgeon and his wife Jody, for their encouragement, time, love, and hospitality. Many shared vignettes of when Sturgeon went above and beyond, and referenced his humble, Christ-like character.
“I am so thankful to the law school faculty, staff, and students for the many ways each group has influenced my life,” Sturgeon said. I thought that I left full-time ministry for law school to be a lawyer. Instead, it turns out that my nine years at Pepperdine Law will serve to make me a better minister. I will miss the day-to-day action at the law school but will not be a stranger and will not be far away. You have a standing invitation to come hear me preach any Sunday in Elkins Auditorium at 10:15am!”