Notable Financier and Philanthropist David M. Rubenstein Shares Experiences with AUWCL Students and Faculty
Dec. 18, 2017
On a lively Tuesday afternoon this fall semester, American University law and business students and faculty had the privilege of hearing David M. Rubenstein speak at an event sponsored by the JD-MBA Club and the Business Law Program. Rubenstein is best known as the co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private equity investment firms, based in Washington, D.C. Also recognized for his outstanding civic and philanthropic efforts, he currently serves as chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Council on Foreign Relations.
In welcoming Rubenstein to the law school, Dean Camille Nelson illustrated his many contributions to the Washington philanthropic, legal, and business communities for the alumni, students, and faculty members in attendance. She noted that the law school’s Business Law Program, which has more than 100 courses in and related to business law, is proud to host events like this one, featuring prominent speakers like David M. Rubenstein, and encouraging learning and conversation about business law.
A practicing lawyer before he entered finance, Rubenstein spoke about his successes and challenges navigating the intersection of law and business.
Professional accomplishments driven by personal values
“What came through loud and clear was his strong vision and sense of purpose,” said Professor David Snyder, director of the Business Law Program at AUWCL. “Throughout his career Mr. Rubenstein has been fiercely committed to civic engagement and philanthropy. He is grateful for the successes he has achieved—and believes in giving back to his country and community.”
“Mr. Rubenstein was quick to acknowledge that where you start in your career may not be where you ultimately end up. His career spanning law, finance, and philanthropy certainly attests to that,” Snyder said.
In his talk, Rubenstein detailed that his involvement in philanthropy began in his 50s, as he gave to educational and healthcare institutions. But he ultimately expanded upon his giving ideals.
“I have coined the phrase patriotic philanthropy,” Rubenstein said. “I’ve decided to do more to remind people of our heritage and our history, the good and the bad. I buy historic documents and put them on display around the country so people could see them…and be inspired to learn more about the history of the document and our country.”
Rubenstein also abides by the notion of patriotic philanthropy by helping to restore damaged historic buildings, such as funding the repairs of the Washington Monument following the 2011 earthquake damage.
“You should try to give back to society and give back to the country when you have a chance to do so, even if it is just your time, your energy, your ideas, and maybe some money if you are fortunate enough to have it.”David M. Rubenstein
Valuable career lessons and inspiration
Rubenstein said he reminds every audience he talks to about the importance of giving back.
“You shouldn’t wait until you are in your 50s to decide what you are going to do to make your mark in the world,” Rubenstein told the AUWCL students. “You should try to give back to society and give back to the country when you have a chance to do so, even if it is just your time, your energy, your ideas, and maybe some money if you are fortunate enough to have it.”
“What impressed me most was how matter of fact and down-to-earth Mr. Rubenstein is—a man with such outstanding accomplishments,” added Christina Ravelo, 3L and Dean’s Fellow for the AUWCL Business Law Program. Ravelo helped coordinate the event, working with JD-MBA Club President Chris White, who was instrumental in bringing Rubenstein to campus. The Business Law Program sponsors two to three such events per semester.
“The students came away with a real sense of possibility,” Snyder added, “how they can leverage their law training in business and, more importantly, how anyone can achieve success if they make the most of the opportunities that are presented to them. The key is to be smart and to be good.”