For Rick Caruso, 2019 marked not only a new direction but also a big step forward at one local university and a sizable contribution to another.

The retail developer opened his first resort project, the Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, in March. The 16-acre resort has 161 rooms, seven bars and restaurants, a spa and two pools.

The hotel business is new territory for Caruso, who’s known for building out high-end retail properties such as the Grove, the Americana at Brand and Palisades Village.

In late 2018, Caruso unveiled the 125,000-square-foot Palisades Village in the heart of Pacific Palisades. The shopping center has more than 40 stores and restaurants as well as a movie theater. Tenants include Brandy Melville, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, Madewell Inc., Sunlife Organics and Sephora USA Inc.

Caruso also made news away from the development space. At USC, where he is chairman for the university’s Board of Trustees, Caruso was instrumental in hiring Carol Folt, the school’s first female president. Folt had previously been chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She arrived at USC in the wake of a series of scandals that led to the ouster USC’s previous president, C.L. Max Nikias.

In November, USC’s Board of Trustees passed a series of changes including reducing the size of the board over the next few years, adding term and age limits, and reducing the number of board committees.

The month before, Caruso and his wife, Tina, announced a $50 million donation to Pepperdine University’s School of Law. The gift will help low-income students and strengthen the institution’s legal offerings. Caruso and his son, Alex, both attended Pepperdine.

Caruso also enjoyed a substantial jump on the Business Journal’s 2019 list of Wealthiest Angelenos. With a fortune of $5.7 billion, up 19% from the previous year, he came in No. 10 on this year’s ranking.

Caruso serves as chair at Loyola High School, is on the board at Pepperdine School of Law and is a board member for several other groups, including Providence St. John’s Health Center.

Keep Reading: 2019 Year in Review Special Report

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