Pepperdine School of Law Announces Historic $50 Million Commitment by Alumnus Rick J. Caruso
The gift represents a significant expansion of Caruso’s long-standing philanthropic support for educational institutions, totaling more than $130 million to date.
Business innovator, civic leader, and philanthropist 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 in recognition of the historic gift. The contribution, made through the Caruso Family Foundation, will expand educational access to exceptional, historically underserved student populations—a hallmark of the Caruso family’s philanthropic efforts in the Los Angeles area and beyond—as well as fuel several initiatives to strengthen the School of Law’s academic programming. In addition, Rick will partner with the School of Law to raise an additional $50 million in endowment funds over the next decade to continue and expand these initiatives to cement Pepperdine’s place among America’s leading law schools.
“The lack of affordable education in our nation and the student debt crisis is not only inhibiting underprivileged students from gaining equal opportunity to education, but also discouraging potential students from exploring careers in public service, roles that have a critical impact on society,” said Rick. “My sincere hope is that this gift will be one of the first steps towards reducing the barrier to entry for these students and will inspire the next generation of public servants.”
Founded in 1969, the School of Law has remained committed to both academic excellence and its Christian faith heritage that serves a diverse student-focused community. This gift demonstrates the Carusos’ devotion to faith-based education, especially for students who are unable to access life-changing higher education of the highest quality.
“Since 1981, the Caruso family has made extraordinary contributions to Pepperdine’s rise, especially at the School of Law, through their dedicated stewardship,” said Pepperdine president Jim Gash. “This latest gift from Rick and Tina Caruso, made possible by decades of friendship between the Carusos and Pepperdine senior leadership, namely President Emeritus Andrew K. Benton and Senior Vice Chancellor and School of Law Dean Emeritus Ronald F. Phillips, will equip the School of Law to attract extraordinary students drawn to Pepperdine’s unique mission, provide them with enhanced legal training, and launch them into impactful careers that will honor God and change lives. With the Carusos’ unwavering support and the daily work of our students, faculty, and staff, I am confident that the future of Pepperdine and the School of Law is brighter than ever.”
In 1994, Rick and Tina created the Rick J. Caruso Research Fellows Program, which supports the ongoing scholarly work of the School of Law’s faculty, and in 1998 created the Caruso Family Chair in Law. They have also established the Caruso Family Loan Forgiveness Fund—an endowed fund for graduates who are dedicated to a career in public service. To date, 70 students have received financial support through the program. This latest gift will expand the loan forgiveness program, enabling more students to pursue fulfilling careers serving the public by reducing the amount of their student debt.
“The generosity and commitment demonstrated by Rick Caruso and his family have for decades driven the entire School of Law forward,” said Paul Caron, dean of the School of Law. “With the School of Law currently enjoying its second-highest ranking among the nation’s law schools in its 50-year history, we are well-positioned with this gift to reach even higher in the years to come.”