Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Announces Newly Endowed Brenden Mann Chair in Law and Religion:
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.
Created by theater entrepreneur Johnny Brenden, whose grandfather, Ted Mann, founded Mann Theaters, the Brenden Mann Foundation supports numerous arts, education, and health programs for young people in the communities it serves. This gift will add to the foundation’s support of Pepperdine programs, including the Brenden Mann Israel Internship Program for students who want to explore international opportunities and a scholarship program for undergraduates interested in both Jewish studies and interfaith programming.
The generous endowment supporting the Brenden Mann Chair in Law and Religion ensures a faculty position dedicated to scholarly research, classroom instruction, and thought leadership on the relationship between law and religion. “This extraordinary gift from the Brenden Mann Foundation,” said Paul Caron, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and professor of law, “will equip the law school to further enhance the University’s commitment to teaching and leading at the intersection of faith and law.”
The inaugural holder of the Brenden Mann Chair in Law and Religion will be Michael Helfand, a world-renowned expert on religious law and religious liberty whose work focuses on how US law treats religious law, custom, and practice.
His academic articles have appeared in numerous law journals, including the Yale Law Journal, the Duke Law Journal and the New York University Law Review. Helfand also regularly provides public commentary on contemporary questions of faith and law in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, First Things, and Tablet Magazine. He joined the Caruso School of Law in 2010 and has served as the vice dean for faculty and research since 2020. Prior to joining Pepperdine, he received his JD from Yale Law School and his PhD in political science from Yale University.
Helfand is also the co-director of the Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion, and Ethics. In his role as the Brendan Mann Chair, he will continue to support the institute’s vital work fostering student inquiry into the intersection of faith and law, including the 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.
We are proud that this is the eighth gift, pledge, or payment of $1 million or more to Pepperdine Caruso Law over the past four years totaling over $80 million: