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Ted McAllister

Edward L. Gaylord Chair 1998-2023
Professor of Public Policy, School of Public Policy


Ted McAllister was the Edward L. Gaylord Chair and professor of public policy at Pepperdine School of Public Policy from 1998 through 2023. An intellectual historian, McAllister brought a historical imagination to the public policy curriculum. Tenured in 2003 and promoted to the rank of professor in 2020, he was integral in building the core curriculum, specifically the school’s signature foundational courses Ethical Dimensions of Public Policy: Great Books and Great Ideas and The Roots of American Order: What is Public Policy. McAllister was also instrumental in building intellectually challenging courses in modern American and democratic culture in the American Politics and Policy track. 

From 2012 to 2013, McAllister served as a Visiting Fellow of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He received grants from the Hagopian Family Foundation and the Earhart Foundation for his work on “A Place in the World: Geography, Identity, and Civic Engagement in Modern America,” a research conference to explore the restoration of “place” in American life; was a recipient of the Pepperdine Waves of Innovation grant for the Pepperdine Executive Preceptorial in 2014 with Seaver College professor of English Michael Ditmore; was a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation's Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, received the Leland Sage Fellowship, and several additional grants including one from the Earhart Foundation.

An innovator in the classroom, McAllister was a two-time recipient of the Howard A. White Award for Teaching Excellence (2004 and 2017). He was known for organizing reading groups for students, colloquiums with Church of Christ sister schools, and designing thought-provoking courses such as Manliness: Courage in a Disordered Age; Toqueville, Local Self-Rule, and Civil Society; Public Opinion and the Problem of Democratic Governance; American Public Philosophy and the Crisis of the Ruling Class; Modernity and Reaction; Experts and the Problem of Public Policy; and Inequality and Alienation.

A respected scholar, McAllister authored the 2022-released, penetrating book Character in the American Experience: An Unruly People with Bruce Frohnen; Coming Home: Reclaiming America’s Conservative Soul also with Frohnen; Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America with Bill McClay; Revolt Against Modernity: Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and the Search for a Post-Liberal Order; and numerous book chapters and reviews. Among his other publications, he authored the chapter "Reagan and the Transformation of American Conservatism" in The Reagan Presidency. McAllister served (with Jean Bethke Elshtain and Wilfred McClay) as an editor of Rowman & Littlefield's book series, American Intellectual Culture, which are designed to produce books that examine the intersection of culture and politics in American history.

Ted V. McAllister Endowed Scholarship

With McAllister's passing in 2023, the Ted V. McAllister Endowed Scholarship was created to honor his legacy as an innovator in the classroom, respected scholar, accomplished author, and defender of truth.


Ted V. McAllister Reserved Book Collection

The Ted V. McAllister Reserved Book Collection was created to honor the legacy of one of the School of Public Policy's founding faculty.  Known as a courageous defender of principles and a relentless seeker of truth that was beloved by students and alumni alike, the personal book collection is an extension of his research and scholarship. Students and visiting alumni are encouraged to explore and seek truth through the works found in the Ted V. McAllister Reserved Book Collection. In his final message sent to students McAllister advised the following: “Your journey continues with every book, with every conversation. I leave you with one suggestion or hope: do not think of these classes, or the reading, or the conversations that we call seminars, in utilitarian ways. Put aside your concerns about grades or gathering information or other distractions and embrace the task of a headlong, even reckless, pursuit of answers, looking for glimmers of truth, found only when one puts to the side the utilitarian concerns of a class and accepts the joyful risks of pursuing inquiry wherever it leads you.”


  • PhD, American Intellectual and Cultural History, Vanderbilt University
  • MA, Claremont Graduate School
  • BA, Oklahoma Christian College