I want to send you a special note to say how proud we all are of you and your class. The first semester of law school is notoriously difficult. I still have vivid memories of my 1L year forty years ago, including the joy I felt when I completed my Fall 1L exams. You have successfully completed your Fall 1L semester during the most challenging time in the history of our law school. You have shown remarkable resilience, grit, and kindness toward each other. You are, indeed, a very special class. I am confident you will be incredible leaders and advocates.
We eagerly await the day when we will be able to safely gather together in community. I want each and every one of you to know that the administration, faculty, and staff are 100% committed to doing everything in our power to provide you with the absolute best experience possible — academically, personally, and spiritually. On Day 1, my wife Courtney and I will begin inviting you to our on-campus home for dinner, in small groups of 8-10 students. In the meantime, we are praying that you and your loved ones have a safe and restful holiday season and a new year filled with bountiful blessings. No class has ever deserved it more.
Congratulations to all of you on completing a uniquely difficult semester. At every milestone in 2020, we hoped and prayed that by the next, we would be on campus together. At each such milestone, you have been called upon to rise to the unforeseen challenge of continued remote learning and physical separation from our community, and you have done so with grace, enthusiasm, perseverance, and commitment to your class work.
You are the first students to start an academic year at our newly named Caruso School of Law. I could not be prouder of what you have accomplished despite our distance from each other. You have organized and participated in numerous virtual events at the law school, won awards in national advocacy competitions, published papers in leading journals, and participated in various student-led groups, all while juggling your studies and home lives. In normal times, your accomplishments fill me with pride. In these times, they also fill me with awe.
While your attention has been likely focused on exams, I hope that you are now able to embrace the upcoming holiday season with joy. It is a time of rest, rejuvenation, and celebration of the gifts we each have in our lives. You are among the most precious gifts in my own life, and I look forward to supporting your growth and victories in the new year.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
It is so good to see everyone today. There are many smiles, good cheer, and a sense of calmness. I feel the joy coming through my screen. It must be the end of the semester! And what a semester it has been. You all should feel such a sense of pride in what was accomplished, with such excellence, this fully online fall semester. You did not skip a beat.
- You kept the community engaged in meaningful and important events and series, such as the Dean's Speaker Series, Race and the Law Series, Reimagining Justice Series, the Esther Project, Black Women and the Law Summit, and Young Voices in Divided Times, just to name a few that have taken place this semester.
- The Christian Legal Society had superstar speakers each week and had an amazing alumni reunion.
- Annual and regular events such as Diversity Week, Public Interest Week, and Open Conversations continued as usual and were well-attended and appreciated.
- You prepared our 2020 graduates for an online bar exam.
- You prepared our students for the upcoming online On-Campus Interviews in January.
- The admissions team navigated a virtual recruiting season and is currently seeing a record number of applications.
- Even in a pandemic, our advancement team is continuing to raise funds and realize significant donations.
- You navigated the all-important ABA and US News reporting that happens each fall.
- You kept the building maintained and in good order.
- You practiced expense optimization and made sacrifices.
- As a community, we started this semester without our beloved Professor McGoldrick, we said goodbye to our dear friend Ventura, and we mourned the tragic loss of our 2020 graduate Joel Harris.
- But most importantly, you served and supported our students so well. Our library, centers and institutes, student life, the deans' suite, financial aid, student accounts, student services, faculty support, and information services served our students at all hours of the day and night.
- As the semester came to a close, student life hosted a week of self-care events to help our students through final exams. And our faculty support and final exam team once again executed a flawless final examination period.
Well done! I am, once again, humbled by the care and dedication each one of you has for our students and for the law school community. Thank you!
I am writing to thank you for all you do for CSOL and for our students. Last year at this time, none of us could have predicted the challenges that 2020 would bring our way. And yet — and as always — you have delivered an educational experience for our students that is second to none. Each day, in ways big and small, you leave a lasting imprint in the lives of our students.
The Pepperdine affirmation statement proudly declares that the student is the heart of the educational enterprise. At CSOL, you are our lifeblood. I just completed our first annual report to Rick Caruso on the impact of his naming gift to our law school. It reminded me that on virtually every metric, the school has made enormous progress due to your hard work and commitment to our students, despite a devastating fire and a global pandemic over the past two years.
I hope you will use these 29 days before the start of the spring semester as a time of rest, rejuvenation, and joy — no Pepperdine faculty has ever deserved it more.
Dear Pepperdine Caruso Law Community,
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. As I reflect on this past year in the life of the law school, 2020 has indeed been a strange, difficult year.
I always say “the world needs more Pepperdine lawyers.” I believe that now more than ever. One of our very successful graduates once said to a group of recently admitted students considering Pepperdine Caruso Law, “You want to come here because this place has a soul.”
We need people who have been transformed by the love, justice, and community bond that can be found in the students, faculty, staff, and alumni at Pepperdine Caruso Law. That bond remains even when we are not able to be together in person because the heart of the school is in the people, not the physical place.
Our diversity and justice initiatives have been some of the most important things I have worked on as Dean this year. It is a joy to learn about and celebrate the different people and cultures that celebrate the holiday season in our Pepperdine Caruso Law community. With that in mind, I wish you a Happy Diwali, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas. May your holiday season be filled with love, joy, peace, and hope. We are praying for your safety, health, and prosperity in 2021, in hope that we will be together again soon in Malibu.