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Pepperdine Caruso Law Annual Gala Dinner Features President George W. Bush and Rick J. Caruso

Pepperdine Caruso School of Law celebrated its 50-year legacy of service with a gala dinner that featured President George W. Bush in conversation with alumnus Rick J. Caruso (JD ‘83) on Wednesday, March 22, at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills.

More than 1,000 guests came together at the annual celebration to honor the multigenerational legacies of President Bush and Caruso, both of whom exemplify the values of selfless service to which Caruso Law students, alumni, and community aspire.

“One of the greatest things about the Pepperdine Caruso Law community is how we support each other through challenges and triumphs,” said Paul Caron, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of Caruso Law. “It was such a pleasure to gather in celebration of how far we have come and how much farther we will go in the next 50 years. We were delighted to host the Caruso family and President Bush as we paid tribute to the school's legacy of public service and honored our alumni and friends who generously support our school’s work.

Following an introduction by University president Jim Gash, guests enjoyed a conversation with President Bush and Caruso. When President Bush was asked “What is the message you would send to law students as they are pursuing their careers and looking to do something great in life and change the world?" He responded "It brings me joy to know that there are students who want to do something great in life. That means not only being a great lawyer, but also serving the community in which you live and making it a better place. Like teaching a child to read, feeding the homeless, and serving. This is not a government concept. This is a soul of America concept. I believe that our places of higher education are the best in the world. This is a nation of enormous ingenuity." After the conversation, President Bush was presented with a custom bomber jacket by Gash and Caron.

The celebration continued with remarks from Gash, Caron, and Dean Emeritus Ronald F.  Phillips. A special gift presentation was then made to Rick and Tina Caruso by students and alumni who have benefitted from the Caruso family’s generosity through the Caruso Scholars and Caruso Loan Forgiveness programs. 

The evening also included a video tribute to former Caruso Law dean Ken Starr and the announcement of the Ken Starr Institute for Faith, Law, and Public Service. As a testament to Starr's transformative impact as dean of Caruso Law from 2004 to 2010, the institute will enhance the faith, law, and public service components of the school's curriculum and training.

Since its founding more than 50 years ago, Pepperdine Caruso Law has prepared its students to not only practice law but to use their legal expertise to serve their communities. Through the historic 2019 naming gift from Caruso and his wife, Tina, the school reinforced its commitment to those ideals, dramatically increasing scholarship funding and loan forgiveness for graduates who practice public interest law and increasing support for the faculty who teach and prepare their students for lives of service.

George Bush and Rick Caruso at annual law dinner

Additional photos may be viewed at Pepperdine Caruso Law Facebook