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Caruso School of Law Announces Newly Endowed Brenden Mann Chair in Law and Religion

February 10, 2022  | 2 min read

Michael Helfand The Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law announced the newly endowed Brenden Mann Chair in Law and Religion supported by a generous $2.5 million commitment from the Brenden Mann Foundation. Pepperdine will match this gift as part of the University's Strategic Academic Investment Initiative, bringing the full endowment to $5 million. The endowment will ensure a faculty position dedicated to scholarly research, classroom instruction, and thought leadership on the relationship between law and religion. World-renowned religious law expert and Caruso School of Law professor Michael Helfand will serve as the inaugural chair.

“This extraordinary gift from the Brenden Mann Foundation will equip the law school to further enhance the University’s commitment to teaching and leading at the intersection of faith and law,” said Paul Caron, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and professor of law at the Caruso School of Law.

The Brenden Mann Foundation—created by theatre entrepreneur Johnny Brenden, whose grandfather, Ted Mann, founded Mann Theatres—supports numerous arts, education,  and health programs for young people in the communities it serves. The foundation is a long-time supporter of Pepperdine programs, including the Brenden Mann Israel Internship Program, which allows students to explore international opportunities and scholarship resources for those interested in Jewish studies and interfaith programming. 

In his new role as the Brendan Mann Chair, Helfand will continue to support the vital work of fostering student inquiry into the intersection of faith and law and Caruso School of Law’s recently launched Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation Religious Liberty Clinic. He will also sponsor campus colloquia and presentations that both enrich students’ classroom experiences and contribute to the wider community.

Since 2010 Helfand has been an active member of the Caruso School of Law faculty. He currently serves as the codirector of the Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics and as vice dean for faculty and research. With a focus on how the United States law treats religious law, custom, and practice, Helfand’s work has been published in numerous law journals such as Yale Law Journal, the Duke Law Journal, and the New York University Law Review. He also regularly appears in public media—including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, First Things, and Tablet Magazine—to discuss contemporary questions of faith and law.