News and Events
Distinguished Alumnus Rick J. Caruso Addresses Audience at 33rd Annual Associates Dinner
An evening of live music, good food, and good company was enjoyed by all at the 33rd Annual Pepperdine Associates Dinner, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on April 23. The gala event featured addresses around the evening's theme "Heart of the World" by Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton and School of Law Distinguished Alumnus Rick J. Caruso.
The evening's theme was a phrase coined by University founder George Pepperdine when he referred to Los Angeles as the Heart of the World in a 1930s radio address. It was in the heart of Los Angeles that George Pepperdine chose to build a college dedicated to "developing both the minds and the hearts of its students." A visionary businessman, Pepperdine's belief that Los Angeles would become one of the most important cities in the world exceeded his own imaginings.
President Benton addresses the diners
President Benton reminded attendees that the University's influence on the affairs of Los Angeles, the region, and the world is reflected in the achievements of Pepperdine alumni throughout Southern California, the nation, and wherever alumni pursue their chosen careers.
"Pepperdine," noted Benton, "continues to attract students of quality who create lasting value. Students like Rick Caruso."
Greeted by a standing ovation, Caruso spoke candidly about his views on current events and the dire economic challenges facing the nation and the world. Philosophizing about the current crises, he said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." He went on to make an analogy about the prominent recipients of much publicized government bailouts, cautioning in Warren Buffet's words: "A rising tide also shows who has been swimming naked."
Of these failing or failed enterprises Caruso asked bluntly, "Why should something be too big to fail?" Caruso expressed a dim view of the bailouts and government's growing
influence and active participation in business, noting, "When government gets into business, you get a lot more of the former and less of the latter."
Skeptical of government intrusion into private enterprise, Caruso shared his ultimate confidence in the free enterprise system. "It's a very tangled web when government and business get mixed up together," he said.
Rick J. Caruso
Caruso knows a thing or two about business as president and chief executive officer of Caruso Affiliated. He was named the 2008 Business Person of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal and his work in transforming Southland communities into popular destinations for shopping, strolling, and gathering in community is legendary. His flagship destination, The Grove, eclipses Disneyland for annual visitors.
Caruso's sense of civic commitment was evident when he became the youngest commissioner in the history of the City of Los Angeles within the Department of Water and Power. He is the former president of the L.A. Police Commission, a current board member of Para Los Niños, St. John's Health Center Foundation, and the Pepperdine School of Law Board of Visitors. In addition to being an alumnus of the Law School, Caruso has strong ties to Pepperdine; his parents, Hank and Gloria Caruso, are namesakes of the Pepperdine law center's Caruso Auditorium. An endowed scholarship and loan forgiveness fund also bear the Caruso name.
Caruso was generous in his praise of Pepperdine University's success in nurturing generations of "smart, ethical leaders" and he turned to George Pepperdine for inspiration on dealing with many of the challenges before us. "We can do no better than follow George Pepperdine's example as a 'steward of God's mercy,'" Caruso said.