Photos by Lindsey Sullivan | Rick J. Caruso announces his donation to the law school to provide student scholarships.
Rick J. Caruso, law school alumnus of 1983, donated $50 million to the law school Wednesday, Oct. 23 and will help raise an additional $50 million in endowment funds over the next decade.
The law school will be renamed the Rick J. Caruso School of Law in honor of the gift made through the Caruso Family Foundation.
“This is a gift to us,” Caruso said. “This school changed my life. It gave me an opportunity; it disciplined me. It is just an honor to be able to do the same for others.”
For decades, Caruso and his family have been committed to helping underprivileged students pursue their educational goals.
“These are young, brilliant people that have big dreams but are not given the opportunity,” Caruso said.
The funds will be used to provide student scholarships for those who otherwise could not afford to go to law school and provide loan forgiveness for those who have graduated from law school with debt and are interested in public service careers that are not as financially rewarding, President Jim Gash said.
Carmen Izquierdo-Oliva, first-generation college grad and current law student, said she is especially excited for the opportunities this gift will bring to other students like herself.
“I think that this donation will help a lot of underserved students like me, who are first-generation, and are truly seeking opportunities to represent underserved communities,” Izquierdo-Oliva said.
Caruso’s gift will be beneficial to students like Izquierdo-Oliva, who hope to go directly into fields of public interest and may need other methods of paying off student debt outside of their income, Izquierdo-Oliva said.
Izquierdo-Oliva shares her experience as a first-generation law student with the audience.
“Coming from an immigrant family, it is hard to separate yourself from wanting to help these communities,” Izquierdo-Olivia said. “Growing up you see your parents struggle, you see your family struggle, and that’s kind of just instilled in you [to] want to help.”
Natalie Burkholder, second-year law student and mother of two, said she is hopeful for what the donation will bring to the future of the law school.
“I could not be more grateful for people like Mr. Caruso,” Burkholder said. “As a person who worked very hard to get here on scholarship, this is just very near and dear to my heart and makes opportunities so much more tangible. I would love to see my children attend Pepperdine and hopefully Pepperdine Law someday, so this affects people for generations to come.
The funds will also be used to hire two new faculty members to support faculty scholarship research, prepare students for the bar exam and help them find jobs afterward, Gash said.
Rick J. Caruso is welcomed by President Jim Gash and President Emeritus Andrew K. Benton (to the left), son Alex Caruso, Law School Dean Paul L. Caron and Senior Vice Chancellor Ronald F. Phillips (to the right).
“The Caruso family has been generous with our institution for a number of years,” Gash said. “To have the Caruso’s name affiliated with Pepperdine is just a huge boost to our local and national reputation.”
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