Thomas J. Barrack Jr. ’69, founder, chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based Colony Capital LLC, one of the world’s largest private equity real estate firms, was elected to the USC Board of Trustees on June 6.
Barrack founded Colony Capital in 1991. As chairman, he has invested approximately $45 billion in assets worldwide and oversees a global organization located in 13 cities and 10 countries.
“I am very proud to announce that Thomas J. Barrack Jr. has been elected to the USC Board of Trustees,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “A true Trojan, Tom brings the unique perspective of an extraordinarily creative and successful entrepreneur to our board. His spirit of adventure, leadership, and wealth of experience in finance and real estate development will be invaluable as we secure USC’s place among the ranks of the world’s truly elite universities.”
The son of Lebanese immigrants, Barrack is a Los Angeles native and a graduate of Loyola High School. While a student at USC, he played on the varsity rugby team. He received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from USC Dornsife in 1969 and later attended the USC Gould School of Law, where he served as an editor of the Southern California Law Review, and the University of San Diego, where he earned his JD in 1972.
Barrack began his professional career at the firm of Herbert W. Kalmbach, President Richard Nixon’s personal lawyer. He then took an assignment in Saudi Arabia, eventually learning Arabic and working for several years as an adviser to sons of the Saudi king.
Back in the United States, Barrack began his real estate investment career in 1976 as president of Dunn International Corporation, a builder of industrial and office parks. He served as deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior during the Reagan administration from 1982 to 1983.
Following stints as president of Oxford Development Ventures Inc., the largest Canadian development company, and senior vice president of E. F. Hutton & Co. in New York, he became a principal with the Robert M. Bass Group, the principal investment vehicle for Robert M. Bass of Fort Worth, Texas, a position he held from 1986 to 1991.
Barrack is a current director of First Republic Bank, one of the largest private wealth banks in the United States; Accor SA, the largest European hotel group; the Fairmont Hotel Group, one of the largest international hotel groups; and Kerzner International Holdings Ltd., an international gaming and hospitality company.
He is a past director of Continental Airlines; Kerry Properties, one of the largest property companies in Hong Kong; Korea First Bank; Aozora Bank in Japan; Public Storage Company; and Santa Anita Companies.
In 2005, Barrack received an honorary doctorate from Pepperdine University, where he is a member of the University Board, a national advisory body. He was previously a trustee of the American University of Beirut. He has been a trustee of Loyola High School for more than a decade and currently is a trustee of The Thacher School in Ojai, Calif.
In Paris in 2010, in recognition of his contributions to the French business and finance sector, then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy knighted Barrack as a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest award bestowed by the French government on citizens and foreigners.
Throughout his career, Barrack has been an active champion of his alma mater, where he is currently a member of the Board of Leaders of the USC Marshall School of Business. He has served as a commencement speaker for the school and as a presenter at its 13th annual Asia/Pacific Business Outlook conference in 2000. In fall 2010, he joined actor Rob Lowe in sharing his experiences, advice and philosophies with USC students during a program titled “Making Movies, Making Deals and Making It Big,” as part of USC Marshall’s John Bendheim Executive in Residence Program. Barrack also partnered with USC Trustee Gin D. Wong, a 1950 architecture alumnus, to support a presentation by Beijing-based architect Liu Jiakun as part of the USC School of Architecture lecture series in January 2012. Barrack is a frequent keynote speaker at the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate and various other USC venues.
In recognition of his professional achievements and service to the university, Barrack was honored with USC Marshall’s Alumni Award for Business Excellence in 1999. The USC Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies named him “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2005.
An avid surfer and polo player, Barrack resides in Los Angeles and also owns and operates a vineyard and horse ranch in Santa Ynez, Calif., with his children.