The Riordan Programs at the UCLA Anderson School of Management were founded in 1987 by Richard Riordan, then the future mayor of Los Angeles, and William Ouchi, at the time a UCLA Anderson professor. Throughout the ensuing decades, Richard Riordan and his wife, Elizabeth, have never wavered in their commitment to the initiative.
Now, the Riordan Foundation has continued its support with a new $3 million commitment to support the programs, which have grown to encompass three distinct tracks: the Riordan Scholars, which provides mentorship related to education and business for high school students preparing to enter college; the Riordan MBA Fellows for recent college graduates considering graduate education in business; and the Riordan College-to-Career Program for first-generation college students seeking internships and careers in management.
“Dick’s philanthropy is rooted in a deeply held, ethical construct,” said Mary Odell, chairman of the Riordan Foundation. “He believes he has a moral obligation to use his personal wealth to promote the greater public good. He acts on this moral construct through strategic philanthropy and public service.”
Collectively, the programs have had a sizeable influence on the lives of young people in Southern California. More than 4,000 students at all levels have participated overall, and 100% of the high schoolers who have taken part in the Scholars Program have been accepted at colleges or universities.
“UCLA — and UCLA Anderson — embrace three critical institutional responsibilities: education, research and public service,” said Tony Bernardo, dean of UCLA Anderson. “The Riordan Programs make an impact in all three areas and are an essential element in Anderson’s commitment to serving the community. We are very grateful to Richard and Elizabeth Riordan and the Riordan Foundation for their continuous and generous support.”
Odell said it’s not a coincidence that the Riordan programs are based at one of the nation’s top schools of management.
“Dick’s philosophy has always been to provide individuals with resources that will prepare them to compete successfully in society, and his philanthropy has always been researched-based and data-driven to address real needs,” she said. “He looks for outcomes that can be evaluated. He’s always willing to take a risk and try out new approaches, allow for modifications and support what works.”
The commitment is a tangible reminder of the values espoused by Riordan, who established his eponymous foundation in 1981 with an initial goal of supporting youth literacy.
“My husband’s philanthropy is driven by a very personal, ethical belief,” said Elizabeth Riordan, who earned her bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 1970. “He doesn’t just want to give money away. He wants to do it in a way that leverages public dollars and sustains programs for the communities he wants to serve. He’s worked hard his whole life to do that. I am proud and happy to join him in giving this gift to my alma mater, UCLA.”
At the time the Riordan Programs were established, Richard Riordan was an attorney, businessman and philanthropist. He would go on to be twice elected as mayor of Los Angeles, serving from 1993 to 2001. Ouchi, who helped establish the programs, is now a distinguished professor emeritus at UCLA Anderson.