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Coming Home: Exploring the Work of Ted McAllister

Book cover image of "Coming Home" by Ted McAllister

Event Details

Friday, March 15 - Saturday, March 16, 2024 
6:00 PM PST

Drescher Graduate Campus
Malibu, CA 


For more information about this event, please email sppevents@pepperdine.edu, or call 310.506.7490

The School of Public Policy is honored to host “Coming Home: Exploring the Work of Ted McAllister,” a conference discussing the scholarship of the late Ted McAllister, Edward L. Gaylord Chair and Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University School   of Public Policy (SPP).  It was regularly remarked that the School of Public Policy was the only graduate policy program where Ted's distinctive approach to teaching and scholarship could thrive, impacting the lives and careers of hundreds of his students.  A cultural historian himself, McAllister taught our graduate students how to "think historically" in making policy decisions in contexts ranging from the local to the international.

Through panels and roundtable conversations, fellow scholars and friends will explore McAllister's influence both inside and outside the classroom, highlighting particular books and essays of his, as well as the classes he taught here at SPP.


Friday, March 15th:

• 4:30 pm: Check-in

• 5:00 pm: Keynote Address & Dinner - How Shall We Govern Ourselves? Lessons from the Life and Writings of Ted McAllister 

 Bruce Frohnen, Professor of Law at Ohio Northern University, College of Law

• 7:00 pm: Closing

Saturday, March 16th: 

• 8:30 am: Check-in & Breakfast

• 9:00 am: Welcome & Opening Remarks  

• 9:10 - 10:10 am: Panel 1- The Stories We Tell 

• 10:15 - 11:15 am: Panel 2- The Rise of Antihumanism

• 11:30 am: Lunch 

• 12:00 pm: Featured Testimonials 

• 1:30 pm- 2:30 pm: Panel 3 - McAllister on Strauss and Voegelin: A 30-Year Head Start on the Post-Liberal Era

• 2:30 - 3:00 pm: Break 

• 3:00 - 4:00 pm: Panel 4 - Coming Home 

• 4:10 pm: Conference Closing

• 4:30 pm: Reception: Spruzzo Restaurant & Bar 



  Alan Beard (MPP '99)

Alan BeardAlan Beard is a two-time graduate of Pepperdine University, earning a BA in Music in 1994 and the MPP as a member of the inaugural class at the School of Public Policy in 1999. Since 2019, he has served as a member of Pepperdine’s Board of Regents.

Beard is the founder and CEO of Synonymous, a brand strategy agency. Previously, he was the co-founder of award-winning creative advertising agency, McBeard. As CEO of McBeard, he built the world's foremost social media agency and pioneered consumer social media marketing with many of the biggest brands in the world. McBeard was ultimately acquired AT&T in 2018.

  Mark Blitz

Mark BlitzMark Blitz (A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University) is Fletcher Jones Professor of Political Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College. He served during the Reagan administration as Associate Director of the United States Information Agency, where he was the senior United States official in charge of educational and cultural programs abroad, and as a senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He has been Vice President of the Hudson Institute, and has taught political philosophy at Harvard University and at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Reason and Politics: The Nature of Political Phenomena; Conserving Liberty; Plato’s Political Philosophy; Duty Bound: Responsibility and American Public Life; Heidegger’s “Being and Time” and the Possibility of Political Philosophy; and is co-editor (with William Kristol) of Educating the Prince.

  Paul Contino

Paul Contino HeadshotPaul J. Contino is the distinguished professor in great books at Seaver College, Pepperdine University, where he has been twice granted the Howard A. White Award for Teaching Excellence.  In 2001 he co-edited and introduced Bakhtin and Religion: A Feeling for Faith (Northwestern UP).  He has published a number of essays on Fyodor Dostoevsky, as well as essays on Zhuangzi, Dante Alighieri, and Jane Austen as well as a number of contemporary Catholic authors such as Andre Dubus, Tobias Wolff, and Alice McDermott.  His book Dostoevsky’s Incarnational Realism: Finding Christ among the Karamazovs (Cascade, 2020) has been published in Russian translation (Academic Studies Press 2023), and was named a finalist for both the Lilly Fellows and Christianity and Literature book awards.

  Sheryl Covey (MDR '20)

Sheryl CoveySheryl Covey is the assistant dean for administration for Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and oversees academic affairs, administrative services, information technology, and policy development for the school. She manages all federal and foundational grants, oversees a $5 million operating budget and a $38 million endowment, and serves on more than a dozen University committees. Covey represents the school in technology implementations, interprets curriculum modifications and adherence to accreditation standards, hires faculty, develops course schedules, and other administrative duties. She has a diverse background in higher education, nonprofit organizations, strategic planning, administrative services, and fields of business, technology, and development. Covey’s conflict training background includes mediation and adjudication of more than 70 higher-education academic integrity and housing and student conflict cases as well as a dozen Title IX cases and select University-wide grievance cases. Her negotiation experience includes areas of employment hiring, contract development, and nonprofit transitions and she has worked with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing co-mediating cases in harassment and discrimination. Covey was nominated to the general advisory board of Santa Monica College by the president and trustees and provides the college programming and feedback in that role. She has a bachelor of science in marketing from California State University, Northridge, and a Master of Dispute Resolution with Pepperdine University School of Law's Straus Institute.

  Matthew Crawford 

Mathew B. Crawford HeadshotMatthew Crawford is a senior fellow at the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and a New York Times bestselling author. He studied physics as an undergraduate, then the history of political thought (PhD University of Chicago). His books include; Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work, The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction, Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road

His shorter writings have appeared in First Things, Wall Street Journal, The New Atlantis, The Hedgehog Review, Le Figaro, Le Monde, Esprit, Unherd, Compact, and at his Substack, Archedelia.

  Steven Ealy

steve ealy headshotSteven D. Ealy was trained as a political scientist, with degrees from Furman University (BA), Claremont Graduate University (MA), and the University of Georgia (PhD). From 1979 to1993 he taught at various schools in the Southeast: Furman University, Western Carolina University, and Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia. From 1993 to 2023 he was a fellow at Liberty Fund, an educational foundation based in Indianapolis. He has written on Jurgen Habermas, Robert Penn Warren, Ralph Ellison, Edmund Burke, the Federalist Papers, Eric Voegelin, C. S Lewis, Michael Oakeshott, American philanthropy, and the Qur'an.

  Karen Elliott House

Karen Elliot House HeadshotKaren Elliott House is a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of government and author of a book, On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines and future published by Knopf in 2012. She has traveled to and reported from Saudi Arabia for four decades, most recently as author of a report for Belfer entitled, Saudi First: Kingdom Pursues Independent Path.

House retired in March 2006 as publisher of The Wall Street Journal and senior vice president of Dow Jones & Company. During a 32-year career with The Wall Street Journal, House also served as foreign editor, diplomatic correspondent, and energy correspondent based in Washington DC. Her journalism awards include a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for international reporting for coverage of the Middle East.

She currently is a trustee of the RAND Corp. and serves on multiple non-profit boards including the Trilateral Commission. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin where in 1996 she was the recipient of the University’s “Distinguished Alumnus” award. She has received honorary degrees from Boston University, Lafayette College and Pepperdine University. House is married and is the mother of four children.

  Bruce Frohnen

Bruce FrohnenBruce Frohnen joined the ONU faculty in 2008. Previously, he served as legislative aide to a United States senator, visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and secretary and director of program at the Earhart Foundation. He publishes extensively in the areas of public law and constitutionalism. His co-edited volume, American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia was the subject of a front-page article in The New York Times. He has published over 100 articles, essays, chapters and reviews in journals including the George Washington Law Review and the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.

  Steven Hayward

Steven HaywardSteven Hayward joined the School of Public Policy as the William E. Simon Distinguished Visiting Professor in 2013 and the Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy from 2014 to 2016. Before returning as the Edward L. Gaylord Visiting Professor of Public Policy, Hayward was a resident scholar at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and a fellow of the Law and Policy Program at Berkeley Law.                  

From 2002 to 2012 Hayward was the F.K. Weyerhaeuser fellow in Law and Economics at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. He is currently a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco. 

He frequently writes on a wide range of current topics, including environmentalism, law, economics, and public policy for publications including National Review, Reason, The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator, The Public Interest, the Claremont Review of Books, and the Policy Review at the Hoover Institution. His newspaper articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, and dozens of other daily newspapers. Hayward is the author of a two-volume narrative history of Ronald Reagan and his effect on American political life, The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980, and The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counter-Revolution, 1980-1989 (CrownForum books). His other books include Index of Leading Environmental Indicators; The Almanac of Environmental Trends; Mere Environmentalism: A Biblical Perspective on Humans and the Natural World, Churchill on Leadership; Greatness: Reagan, Churchill, and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders; Patriotism Is Not Enough; and M. Stanton Evans: Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom.

Hayward received a PhD in American studies and MA in government from Claremont Graduate School and a BS in business and administrative studies from Lewis and Clark College.

  Mark Kalthoff

Mark Kalthoff HeadshotMark Kalthoff is dean of faculty, professor of History, and Henry Salvatori chair of history and traditional values at Hillsdale College where he has taught for the past thirty-five years.   He completed his undergraduate study at Hillsdale College in history, biology, and mathematics, graduating summa cum laude and class salutatorian in 1984. Kalthoff then earned the MA and PhD degrees in the history and philosophy of science at Indiana University, specializing in the historical relations between science and religion.  He has lectured widely and taught courses in a variety of subjects including American and European political culture, history and philosophy of science, the history of American religion, American intellectual history, and the history and literature of liberal education.   Among his awards, he received the Templeton Foundation’s teaching award for his course in science and religion, was elected a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation, and was awarded the Richard Weaver Fellowship from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. In addition to Hillsdale College, he has taught at Indiana University and at Pepperdine University.  He also served as chairman of the department of history at Hillsdale College for twenty-one years.  His articles and reviews have been published in such journals as The American Spectator, First Things, Faith & Reason, Continuity, Fides et Historia, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Isis, The Review of Metaphysics, The University Bookman, and others.  His current book project is a collection of essays treating themes related to culture, science, religion, and education.  Kalthoff and his wife, Christy, have been married thirty-nine years.  They have five adult children and four grandchildren.

  Wilfred McClay

Wilfred M. McClayWilfred McClay holds the Victor Davis Hanson Chair in Classical History and Western Civilization at Hillsdale College. Before coming to Hillsdale in the fall of 2021, he was the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma, and the director of the Center for the History of Liberty. His book, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, received the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history. Among his other books is The Student’s Guide to U.S. History, Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in America, Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Public Life in Modern America, and Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story. He served for eleven years on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is currently is a member of the US Commission on the Semiquincentennial, which has been charged with planning the celebration of the nation’s 250th birthday in 2026. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Academy of Education, and served as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Rome. He is a graduate of St. John’s College (Annapolis) and received his PhD in History from Johns Hopkins University.

  Pete Peterson

Dean Pete Peterson HeadshotPete Peterson is a leading national speaker and writer on issues related to civic participation, and the use of technology to make government more responsive and transparent. He was the first executive director of the bi-partisan organization, Common Sense California, which in 2010 joined with the Davenport Institute at the School of Public Policy to become the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership.

Peterson has co-created and currently co-facilitates the training seminar, "Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill in Difficult Times" a program that has been attended by over 4,500 municipal officials, and he also helped to develop the program, "Leading Smart Communities," which explores the ways in which technology is changing local government processes. Peterson has served as the chair of the Governance Committee for the Public Interest Technology-University Network.

In 2017, SPP launched a new initiative titled the "American Project: On the Future of Conservatism", which is co-directed by Dean Peterson and Rich Tafel. The "Project" is a unique effort to gather scholars and activists from a variety points on the conservative spectrum to deliberate over, write about, and discuss the future of the conservative movement. In 2022, through a $10 million endowment gift, the "Project" transitioned into the academic center, Meese Institute for Liberty and the American Project.

Peterson writes widely on public engagement for a variety major news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as numerous blogs. He contributed the chapter, "Place As Pragmatic Policy" to the edited volume, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America (New Atlantis Books, 2014), and the chapter "Do-It Ourselves Citizenship" in the volume, Localism in the Mass Age (Wipf & Stock, 2018).

Peterson has been a public affairs fellow at The Hoover Institution, and he serves on the Leadership Council of the bipartisan nonprofit, California Forward, on the National Advisory Council for the Ashbrook Center, as well as on the Scholars Council for Braver Angels. Peterson has served as a member of the Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, which is organized by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, as well as the nonprofit, Sophos Africa.

Peterson was the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State in 2014.

  Alex Priou

Alex Priou HeadshotAlex Priou is a teaching sssistant professor in the Herbst Program for Engineering, Ethics, and Society at the University of Colorado Boulder.  He has published three books on Plato: Becoming Socrates: Political Philosophy in Plato's Parmenides (2018), Defending Socrates: Political Philosophy Before the Tribunal of Science (2023), and Musings on Plato's Symposium (2023).  He has also written a number of articles and book chapters on pre-socratic poetry and philosophy, Plato, Aristotle, and the history of philosophy more generally.  Finally, he is the co-host of The New Thinkery, a political philosophy podcast, and occasionally writes for a broader audience.

  Brian Smith

Brian Smith HeadshotBrian A. Smith is the editor of Law & Liberty. He is the author of Walker Percy and the Politics of the Wayfarer (Lexington Books, 2017) and numerous articles. A political theorist by training, he taught politics and great books at Montclair State University from 2009-2018.

  J.A.T. Smith

J.A.T. Smith HeadshotJ. A. T. Smith (PhD, UCLA) is associate provost, associate professor of English, and associate director of the Center for Faith and Learning. Smith works on the intersection of language and learning in late medieval England with an emphasis on the theological writings of the reformist educator, Bishop Reginald Pecock. She most recently published The Book of Faith: A Modern English Translation (UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2020). She is currently working on a manuscript entitled, The Book of Reginald Pecock, which seeks to reconstruct Pecock's corpus (even those texts that were burnt in the aftermath of his conviction of heresy). 

When not working on medieval manuscripts, Smith also researches in the areas of digital pedagogy and rhetoric and is developing a Christian pedagogical app called The Vineyard. Since 2021, she has served as the media officer for the Medieval Association of the Pacific. She is also the founding convener for the Pepperdine Dialogue Dinners, a program intended to foster intellectual friendship among faculty through close reading and robust conversations. 

  Darren Staloff

Darren Staloff HeadshotDarren M. Staloff is a recently retired professor of Early American History at The City College of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.   He received his undergraduate and graduate training at Columbia University and served as a postdoctoral fellow and National Endowment of the Humanities Scholar at the Omohundro Institute for early American history and culture.  His primary interests are early American intellectual and political history.  He is the author of two books, The Making of an American Thinking Class: Intellectuals and Intelligentsia in Puritan Massachusetts (Oxford University Press, 1998) and Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding (Hill and Wang, 2005). He has also designed and performed in several taped lecture series with Teaching Company on American history and the history of philosophy.  He is currently working on a multi-volume treatment of the enlightenment in America.

  Lee Trepanier

Lee Trepanier HeadshotLee Trepanier is chair and professor of Political Science at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama where he teaches political philosophy, constitutional law, and American Politics. He is the author and editor of several books; editor of Lexington Books series Politics, Literature, and Film; and associate editor of Law & Liberty.

  Bradford Wilson

Bradford P. WilsonBradford Wilson is executive director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, lecturer in Politics, and fellow of Forbes College at Princeton University.  He is a senior fellow in the Witherspoon Institute and is a presidential appointee to the Board of Trustees of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation.  From September 8 to October 12, 2019, he was an Erskine-Canterbury fellow at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.  His interests include American constitutional law, American political thought, and Western political thought.  Wilson is the author of Enforcing the Fourth Amendment: A Jurisprudential History and co-editor of three books: American Political Parties & Constitutional Politics, Separation of Powers and Good Government, and The Supreme Court and American Constitutionalism.  He is also the editor of The Constitutional Legacy of William H. Rehnquist, published in 2015 by West Academic Publishing.  Wilson has coedited, with Carson Holloway, a two-volume edition of The Political Writings of Alexander Hamilton, published by Cambridge University Press in 2017 (paperback ed., 2020).  His edition, also with Carson Holloway, of a two-volume edition of The Political Writings of George Washington was published by Cambridge in 2023.  His writings have appeared in the Review of Metaphysics, the American Political Science Review, Academic Questions, and law reviews, and as chapters in edited volumes.  Wilson has served as president of the Association for the Study of Free Institutions since 2006, and serves on the Advisory Council of the Great Hearts Institute.  He was a Fulbright senior scholar at Moscow State University and Moscow's International Juridical Institute in 1994-95, and, from 1984 to 1987, served as research associate to two chief justices of the United States, Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist.  From 1996 to 2004, he served as acting president and then executive director of the National Association of Scholars and was editor of the journal Academic Questions.  He has been an editor of Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy since 1982.  He received his BA from North Carolina State University, his MA from Northern Illinois University, and his PhD in Politics from The Catholic University of America.

Wilson and his wife Elle have three children and countless grandchildren.

  Steve Wrinn

Steve Wrinn HeadshotSteve Wrinn started as director of the University of Notre Dame Press on September 1, 2015. Prior to his arrival at Notre Dame, Wrinn was director of the University Press of Kentucky for nearly 14 years, where he supervised all aspects of planning, acquisitions, production, marketing, and print and electronic distribution of approximately 60 new books and 20 paperback reprints annually. Wrinn previously was editorial vice president and executive editor of history and political science for Rowman & Littlefield Publishers and editorial director of Lexington Books. While there, he managed the purchase and assimilation of Lexington Books from Simon & Schuster into Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. As director at UNDP, Wrinn is responsible for formulating and implementing the Press’ mission and strategic plan and overseeing progress towards its goals.

  Andrew Yuengert

speaker imageAndrew M. Yuengert is a professor of Economics and the Blanche Seaver Chair of Social Science at Pepperdine University. His research crosses the boundaries between economics, moral philosophy, and Catholic theology. His latest book is Catholic Social Teaching in Practice: Exploring Practical Wisdom and the Virtues Tradition (Cambridge, 2023). Previous books include The Boundaries of Technique (2004) and Approximating Prudence (2012). He has been a fellow at the James Madison Program at Princeton University, and a professor at the Catholic University of America. He currently co-directs a monthly international online seminar on Economics and Catholic Social Thought for the Catholic Research Economist Discussion Organization (CREDO) and the Lumen Christi Institute. He holds a PhD in Economics from Yale University.

  Qian Zhang (MPP '17)

Qian Zhang HeadshotHabi Zhang is a Chinese national who moved to the United States in 2015 when she started her master of public policy at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. It was with great affection and tremendous gratitude for the school and the program that she graduated in 2017. She started her current doctoral program in political science at Purdue University in 2018. Zhang focuses on totalitarianism, ideology, and the comparison of the Western and Chinese political cultures. In her spare time, she writes political commentaries. Her work is seen in Law & Liberty, the Imaginative Conservative, the American Mind, the American Conservative, the Wall Street Journal, and the Daily Wire, among others.

Zhang is an admirer and staunch defender of American Conservatism which she regards as a tradition—a way of living—not an ideology or philosophy. Her work reflects her adoration for the tradition that in her view is most conducive to human flourishing. She lives with her 8-year-old son Hattie in Lafayette, Indiana. It is living among a local Catholic community that she has for the first time felt a sense of belonging. 


Ted McAllister

Ted McAllisterAn Oklahoma native, McAllister came to SPP in 1998 from Hillsdale College and was named the Edward L. Gaylord Chair as an associate professor of public policy. 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. 

“Ted’s influence on SPP and our students is incalculable,” says Pete Peterson, dean and Braun Family Dean’s Chair. “Beginning with us in our second year, he fundamentally shaped our unique curriculum that balances the study of history and political philosophy along with the more quantitative classes. Ted constantly challenged himself and his students to see public policy through the lenses of the liberal arts—to always consider the human dimension of policy decisions. He was the dearest of friends, a courageous defender of principles, and the epitome of a ‘scholar and gentleman.’”

From 2012 to 2013, McAllister served as a Visiting Fellow of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University; 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; and 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.

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 just-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.

He received a PhD in American intellectual and cultural history from Vanderbilt University, an MA with a concentration in American intellectual history from Claremont Graduate School, and a BA in history from Oklahoma Christian College.