Facebook pixel Ken Starr Institute for Faith, Law, and Public Service | Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law
campus view

Ken Starr Institute for Faith, Law, and Public Service

The Ken Starr Institute for Faith, Law, and Public Service cultivates a community of scholars dedicated to the pursuit of justice, upholding the rule of law, and serving the nation and the world with integrity and compassion through the lens of faith. Inspired and energized by the life and legacy of legal scholar, public servant, and former Caruso School of Law dean Ken Starr, the Ken Starr Institute enhances the components of the Pepperdine University mission for which Starr cared so deeply and reinforces the fundamental American values that contribute to the success of a flourishing society.



Ken Starr at Pepperdine

The Starr Legacy

In the six years under Ken Starr's deanship, Caruso Law made significant academic and reputational strides as the school began its ascent into the top tier of law schools nationwide. While serving as dean at Caruso Law, Starr devoted himself to the academic enterprise and brought his considerable legal knowledge into the classroom. He regularly taught courses in his areas of expertise, including constitutional law, religion and the Constitution, and appellate advocacy.

During his tenure, Starr modeled the servant leadership he hoped to inspire in future lawyers by taking on pro bono cases and volunteering at local humanitarian organizations. As an academic mentor and leader, Starr is warmly remembered by his former students and colleagues for taking a personal interest in their professional lives and encouraging them to pursue academic and scholarly excellence along with generosity of spirit.

The central elements of Starr's life were family, faith, law, and public service. The Ken Starr Institute for Faith, Law, and Public Service at the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law honors Starr's remarkable life and his transformative impact as dean of the law school by enhancing the faith, law, and public service components of the Pepperdine University mission.


Pepperdine University cross theme tower

Faith Framework

Ken Starr's Christian faith is deeply intertwined with his career as a legal scholar, public servant, and advocate for values important to faith communities. Starr's vocal advocacy for religious liberty reflects a steadfast belief in the transformative power of faith to shape individual character, influence broader societal discourse, and influence discussions on issues ranging from religious freedom to moral values.

Shaped by Starr's personal and professional guiding values, the Ken Starr Institute will elevate scholarly discussions on faith and the law and initiate real-world opportunities to advocate for religious expression and the rights of religious believers from a broad spectrum of faith traditions in public life—a natural development of Pepperdine's commitment to the intersection of faith, education, and service.

Ensuring robust scholarly research, classroom instruction, and thought leadership on the relationship between law and religion, dedicated scholarship will enable the exploration and presentation of research on topics in the field and position the next generation of scholars to establish Caruso Law as a leading contributor to the national discourse on religious liberty.

Students will be trained to navigate complex legal landscapes and make meaningful contributions to society, harnessing both their legal expertise and moral conviction in support of religious liberty.


Pepperdine Law stairs

Legal Thought

Caruso Law has long promoted viewpoint diversity within the legal academy. The Ken Starr Institute will contribute to viewpoint diversity by promoting scholarship related to originalism and textualism. The institute will provide dedicated resources for innovative research and teaching through endowed chairs and fellowships focused on the exploration of legal thought in the three vital areas of faith, law, and public service.

High-profile conferences on religious liberty and law and religion will be held on Pepperdine's Malibu campus, at the University's Washington, DC, campus, and at the Château d'Hauteville—Pepperdine's newest international campus in Switzerland. These conferences will bring together scholars and practitioners with the goal of influencing public debates on the relationship of faith and law.


judge teaching

Scholarship and Public Service

Endowed scholarships will provide financial support for students interested in religious liberty, constitutional law, or public service. Notably, the Ken Starr Fellows Endowed Scholarship will provide scholarship support for students who plan to pursue careers in civil rights law specializing in the field of religious liberty. The Ken Starr Public Service Endowment will bring a prominent current or former public official to Caruso School of Law to deliver a public lecture and teach a course for law students. The educational experiences offered through this endowed fund will strengthen students for careers of service and leadership and encourage them to apply for judicial clerkships and/or positions with government officials, district attorneys, and congressional offices.


Dean Paul Caron

Ken Starr Institute Launch Dinner - Dean's Remarks

Our country and our world have never been more in need of Pepperdine-trained lawyers, counselors, and peacemakers.

The Pepperdine Caruso School of Law has never been more equipped to recruit, train, and shape our students and launch them into impactful careers and impactful lives, thanks to the Ken Starr Institute for Faith, Law, and Public Service.

Read Dean Caron's remarks