A $15 million gift from USC trustee Thomas J. Barrack Jr. and his family will transform a USC Marshall School of Business building and significantly advance the school’s global mission. The renovated and renamed Barrack Hall will serve as a state-of-the-art home for all of USC Marshall’s international business programs.
“As a distinguished USC trustee and alumnus, Thomas Barrack is a stellar leader in our university’s community, as well as a renowned leader in the sphere of international finance,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “The Barrack family’s exceptionally generous gift will bolster our Marshall School of Business and its faculty and students, and revitalize one of the school’s key facilities for generations to come.
We warmly applaud the family’s philanthropic vision.”
The Barrack family’s gift will make possible extensive renovations of Bridge Hall, which was built in 1928 and named to recognize Dr. and Mrs. Norman Bridge, two longtime friends of USC. It had the special distinction of serving as the Marshall School’s first building. While the structure will retain its Italian Romanesque exterior, the interior will be completely reimagined, signifying the beginning of a new era for the facility.
As the new center for Marshall’s international efforts, Barrack Hall will serve as a vibrant hub for international business thought leadership at the university. The Marshall School currently operates 15 international programs for undergraduate and graduate students, which include the innovative World Bachelor in Business degree program. Bringing these diverse initiatives together in one location will foster dynamic collaborations and inspire novel approaches and perspectives in teaching and research.
The building will be reconfigured with offices, classrooms, research centers and gathering areas that will encourage dialogue among students, faculty and guest lecturers. It will feature cutting-edge tools and digital technology, which will support distance learning and global communication.
“Through this transformative gift, the Barrack family strengthens USC Marshall’s position as a leader in international business education and research,” USC Marshall Dean James G. Ellis said. “Marshall has long been a central destination for academics and practitioners from around the world, and Barrack Hall will provide them with a state-of-the-art global headquarters for ongoing collaboration.”
Barrack knows firsthand the importance of an internationally focused education. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based Colony Capital LLC, one of the world’s largest private equity real estate firms. As chairman, he has invested approximately $45 billion in assets worldwide and oversees a global organization located in 13 cities and 10 countries.
“Education and the development of a cultural sixth sense are the keys to commerce, and commerce is the key to tolerance and understanding. As an alumnus, I feel privileged to supply stewardship for the bricks, while Marshall, its dean, administration and faculty supply the intellectual mortar,” Barrack said. “I am thrilled to be part of this exciting venture at Marshall and hope that the resources provided by the enhanced facility will help nurture the next generations of international business leaders.”
The son of Lebanese immigrants, Barrack grew up working in his parents’ grocery store in Los Angeles and graduated from Loyola High School. As an undergraduate at USC, he enrolled in a business communications class where his professor urged him to consider law school. He took this advice, and after receiving his bachelor’s degree in sociology from USC in 1969, he later attended the USC Gould School of Law, where he served as an editor of the Southern California Law Review. He earned his J.D. from the University of San Diego in 1972. Barrack has also received an honorary doctorate of law from Pepperdine University.
One of the first professional assignments Barrack took as a lawyer was in Saudi Arabia, where he learned Arabic and served as an advisor to the Saudi princes. Prior to founding Colony Capital in 1990, he was a principal with the Robert M. Bass Group, the principal investment vehicle for Robert M. Bass of Fort Worth, Texas. He also served as deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior during the Reagan administration.
Barrack sits on several boards, including those of Carrefour S.A., a French multinational retailer and one of the world’s largest retail groups, and First Republic Bank, a full-service bank and wealth management firm, and is chairman of Miramax, one of the world’s most famed movie and theatrical distribution firms.
He has garnered widespread recognition for his visionary leadership and far-reaching contributions. Among his many honors, he was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, the highest award bestowed by the French president to foreigners.
Barrack is also a Trojan parent with two of his five children attending the university. TJ graduated from USC Dornsife in 2001, and Nicholas will be a freshman at USC Marshall this fall.
Barrack Hall expands on his many efforts on behalf of the Marshall School. He advises senior leadership at the school as a member of Marshall’s Board of Leaders and has shared his expertise in keynote addresses and presentations at various Marshall conferences. He has also been the commencement speaker for Marshall’s undergraduate and graduate ceremonies. In 2005, Barrack was honored with the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies’ Entrepreneur of the Year award. In addition, he serves on the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate’s Advisory Council. He was elected to the USC Board of Trustees in 2012.
“A building stands as an enduring marker of the passion, generosity and vision of the person whose name it carries,” Dean Ellis said. “Barrack Hall is a fitting tribute to Tom, who has left an indelible impression on this university and on the global business community. We could not be prouder or more grateful for his support.”
The Barrack family’s gift provides a significant boost for Marshall’s $400 million fundraising initiative. The funds will be used to support endowments for student scholarships, academic programming and faculty research and teaching, as well as capital projects and other pressing needs. The Marshall initiative has raised more than $200 million.
Marshall’s fundraising drive is part of the Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multiyear effort that seeks to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance the university’s mission of academic excellence and to support research and scholarship that will address society’s most pressing challenges. Three years after its launch, the campaign has raised more than $3 billion—an unprecedented achievement in higher education.