Pepperdine University Announces the Rick J. Caruso School of Law

October 23, 2019 | Pepperdine University is pleased and honored to announce that alumnus Rick J. Caruso (JD ’83) and his wife, Tina, have made a generous $50 million commitment to the Pepperdine School of Law, which will be renamed the Rick J. Caruso School of Law. The historic gift is intended to help low-income and underserved students attend the school of law, pay off student loans, and pursue public service careers.

A press conference was convened in the morning on the law school front lawn to announce the gift, which included remarks from Dean Paul Caron, Rick Caruso, Pepperdine President Jim Gash, Associate Dean Naomi Goodno, and second-year law student Carmen Izquierdo-Olivia. Izquierdo-Olivia conveyed her gratitude for her experience at the law school and the possibility of pursuing a career in public service and helping her community that would be made possible by the Caruso Loan Forgiveness Fund.

A student celebration was later held in the Caruso Auditorium in which Caruso was joined by President Gash and many other friends of the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law. Speakers included Pepperdine President Emeritus Andrew K. Benton, who spoke of his dream for the law school becoming a reality, and Dean Emeritus Ronald F. Phillips, who expressed his gratitude that the Caruso name will be forever linked to the school of law. Pepperdine Chancellor Sarah Young Jackson then read the formal resolution that officially marks the name change in honor of Caruso.

Speaking to the students, Caruso said he intends the gift to help the law school’s mission of supporting student success and confidence, celebrating faith, giving back to the community, and serving others. He hopes the gift will elevate the law school to the next level, provide access to legal education through scholarships, and relieve the burden of loans so that students may pursue opportunities of public service.  Finally, Caruso urged students to do things that are difficult in the face of what is easy because “it is the right way to live your life.”

The Pepperdine Resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, the Pepperdine University School of Law had its humble beginnings in a two-story frame building in Santa Ana, California, where classes began in 1969; and

WHEREAS, through the leadership of founding Dean Ronald F. Phillips, the school was able to recruit quality students, acquire larger facilities, and attract distinguished faculty members; and

WHEREAS, the School of Law has always been blessed with friends whose generosity and vision have helped make its greatest advances possible, such as Odell McConnell, whose support enabled the school’s move to a beautiful facility on Pepperdine’s Malibu campus; and

WHEREAS, guided by wise leaders and fueled by selfless alumni and friends, the School of Law has grown to become one of the top law schools in the United States, an institution with global reach and graduates who have distinguished themselves as attorneys, judges, government officials, entrepreneurs, educators, businesspeople, and civic leaders around the globe; and

WHEREAS, Rick J. Caruso has represented the School of Law with distinction following his graduation in 1983, building one of the nation’s most prominent and successful real estate enterprises, and showing unfailing magnanimity in sharing both his resources and his leadership with the city of Los Angeles and civic, educational, charitable, and faith-based organizations throughout the Southland and beyond; and

WHEREAS, Rick’s generous spirit has furthered our University’s mission in many significant ways, including, but not limited to, facility renovations, research fellowships, a loan forgiveness program benefiting Pepperdine students, and a highly visible endowed chair; and

WHEREAS, Rick and his wife Tina have once again made the School of Law the beneficiary of that giving spirit, with one of the largest single gifts in the University’s history; and

WHEREAS, this transformative gift will propel the School of Law’s rise in becoming one of the truly elite institutions of legal education not only in the United States, but throughout the world; and

WHEREAS, three generations of the Caruso family—beginning with Rick’s parents, Henry and Gloria; followed by Rick and Tina; and most recently the eldest of Rick and Tina’s four children, School of Law alumnus Alex—have exhibited the highest level of interest in, and support for, the law school over many decades;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Pepperdine proudly names its law school the Rick J. Caruso School of Law in honor of his overwhelming generosity and demonstrated deep devotion to the school and its success, creating a permanent and undeniable legacy for him on our campus; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that our entire Pepperdine community offers Rick and his family its most sincere thanks and admiration both for their selflessness and the excellence with which they continue to represent our University.

RESOLVED, this twenty-third day of October, two thousand and nineteen.

A Los Angeles Times feature regarding the Pepperdine law school gift may be found here