Athletics Complex Dedicated to Chancellor Emeritus Charles Runnels

Sept. 13, 2010

MALIBU, Calif. - Chancellor Emeritus Charles Runnels - who has long been a supporter of Pepperdine Athletics - was honored in a ceremony on Monday night as the Waves' athletics complex has been dedicated as the "Charles B. Runnels Sports and Recreation Village."

Runnels can regularly be found at events in Firestone Fieldhouse, sitting in the first row behind the scorers' table. His Pepperdine career began in 1967 by serving on a committee whose work resulted in the establishment of the Malibu campus in 1971. He served as vice chancellor from 1971 to 1984, at which time he became chancellor. In 2006, he assumed the role of Chancellor Emeritus.

At Monday's ceremony, a large stone wall and plaque was unveiled at the corner of John Tyler Drive and Banowsky Boulevard. The Waves' athletic facilities - Firestone Fieldhouse, Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool, Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center, Eddy D. Field Stadium, Tari Frahm Rokus Field and Stotsenberg Track - are all found by heading up John Tyler Drive.

Pepperdine Senior Vice President Keith Hinkle welcomed the 200 or so guests in attendance, which included the majority of the Waves' coaches and athletics staff. He recognized Runnels for his fund-raising that has had such an impact on the Malibu campus and for his love of the athletics program.

Video of Keith Hinkle's speech 

President Andrew Benton then took the microphone to speak about Runnels' career at Pepperdine, saying "his fingerprints are all over this campus, and now his thumbprint will be at the corner of John Tyler Drive and Banowsky Boulevard." Benton described Runnels as Pepperdine's chief "friend-raiser."

Video of Andrew Benton's speech

President Benton then welcomed up Pepperdine regent Virginia Braun, one of the benefactors behind tonight's ceremony and a long-time friend of Runnels.

Video of Virginia Braun's speech

To give the student-athlete's perspective about Runnels' involvement with athletics, men's basketball player Gus Clardy spoke next. Clardy, a Regents' Scholar and a WCC All-Academic honoree, shares the same hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas, with Runnels. Clardy told a humorous story about hearing someone yelling at him at a game about rebounding, thinking it was head coach Tom Asbury, but turning around and realizing it was Runnels.

Video of Clardy's speech

It was then time for the stone wall, which measures 20 feet wide and 5 feet tall, to be unveiled. Runnels' grandchildren pulled off its covering, showing the large words "Charles B. Runnels Sports and Recreation Village" that will be highly visible to all visitors at the intersection. A smaller plaque also sits at the corner, and a copy of the plaque was given to Runnels.

Video of the unveiling

Runnels then spoke for nearly 10 minutes. He thanked many of the people in his attendance and his friends and family. He recalled all of his past friends that have athletic facilities named after them and appreciated their efforts in helping Pepperdine athletics.

Runnels closed his statement by saying: "My prayer for our athletes and coaches and each one of you is that your lives would be filled with the joy of sport, the thrill of victory, and the spirit of teamwork in all that you do. Thank you all, and especially my dear friend Jenny Braun, for the vision and dream to make this village come true for Pepperdine students and for all of you who come to enjoy our sports."

Video of Charles Runnels' speech

Pepperdine Director of Athletics John Watson ended the ceremony with a closing prayer. A celebratory dinner was held later in the evening.

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