CarterBaldwin Executive Search Places General Counsel for Pepperdine University

May 8, 2023 – CarterBaldwin Executive Search has assisted in the recruitment of Thomas H. Knudsen as general counsel at Pepperdine University. Mr. Knudsen, who most recently served as general counsel for California Lutheran University, had previously been with Pepperdine for nearly 15 years. He also received his bachelor’s degree from the Malibu, CA-based institution.

“During his tenure at Pepperdine in the office of the general counsel, Tom earned a reputation among the leaders of the university as a strong litigator, a wise counselor, and an independent and creative thinker,” said Phil Phillips, chief operating officer and senior vice president for administration at Pepperdine. “Importantly, Tom earned the trust of his colleagues as an excellent attorney and one fully committed to his Christian faith and Pepperdine’s mission.”

The general counsel is the university’s chief legal officer and is responsible for providing ethical, practical, and effective advice to further the mission of the university.

Mr. Knudsen has worked in higher education law since 2007 and brings special expertise in the field of Christian higher education, having served as the inaugural general counsel for California Lutheran and as Pepperdine’s associate general counsel and deputy general counsel prior to that.

Strong Experience

At Cal Lutheran, Mr. Knudsen advised the board of regents and senior leaders on legal matters to assist in institutional decision-making in areas such as governance, policy development, significant business transactions, complex litigation, enterprise risk management, and regulatory oversight.

Throughout his tenure at Pepperdine, from 2007 to 2022, Mr. Knudsen provided legal counsel and representation, litigation management, contract drafting and review, and regulatory and compliance oversight to all parts of the university. He coordinated and managed outside counsel, both nationally and internationally, on litigation, employment, and transactional matters. He also served as a legal advisor to the executive officers, senior academic leaders, and administrative leaders on matters of management, labor and employment, construction and real property, intellectual property, student affairs, evolving legal trends, and business. transactions that impacted the institution. Mr. Knudsen also served on the university’s emergency operations committee.

Mr. Knudsen received his law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and went on to a successful career in private legal practice, including seven years with Sedgwick LLP in Los Angeles.

Related: CarterBaldwin Recruits Provost for Lipscomb University

“I am humbled and thrilled to be allowed the opportunity to serve as the next general counsel at Pepperdine University,” sad Mr. Knudsen.  “As we all know, Pepperdine is a special place committed to academic excellence and Christian values. I look forward to assisting president Jim Gash and his leadership team to move the university forward in its mission and institutional goals.”

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Founded in 1937, Pepperdine University is an independent, Christian university. The university enrolls approximately 7,600 students across its flagship liberal arts school, Seaver College; the Caruso School of Law; the Graziadio School of Business and Management; the Graduate School of Education and Psychology; and the School of Public Policy. There are four additional campuses throughout Southern California and seven permanent campuses around the globe that provide a range of international internships and programs on six continents.

Respected Recruiters

Headquartered in Atlanta, CarterBaldwin provides executive search services in the healthcare, technology, non-profit, consumer services, industrial, and media/telecom sectors. Its clients include name-brand institutions, such as KPMG, ADP, Teradata, First Data, Duke University, New York Life, Fleet Pride, and Berkshire Hathaway. The firm is listed among a variety of rankings published by Hunt Scanlon Media, including its Top 50, Private Equity Power 100, and Top 40 Higher Education Search Firms.

In a previous assignment for Pepperdine University, CarterBaldwin Executive Search last year helped place Sean Burnett, formerly with the Gulf Coast division of HCA Healthcare, as senior vice president for integrated marketing communications and chief marketing officer. Mr. Burnett leads Pepperdine’s marketing and communications team to share the university’s brand story through signature events, publications, and emerging technologies.

He joined Pepperdine with more than 20 years of experience in brand management and strategic planning, serving most recently as vice president of marketing and corporate affairs for the Gulf Coast division of HCA Healthcare, a leading provider of healthcare services. Mr. Burnett has also served as vice president of sales, marketing, and training for healthcare services firm Covia Health. He has launched comprehensive marketing programs, designed communication initiatives, and impacted global brands such as OSI Restaurant Partners Inc. (Outback Steakhouse), Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut), IKEA, Igloo Products Corp., and SYSCO Foods, among others.

Related: CarterBaldwin Places 16th President at Oklahoma Baptist University

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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