Destined to lead: Norm Allen ’88, ’94 takes helm as chair of Pacific’s Board of Regents
Norm Allen is no stranger to leadership roles at University of the Pacific. His leadership goes back to his undergraduate days on the Stockton Campus, when he was student body president and a residence hall assistant. He also attended Pacific's McGeorge School of Law, where he served as a writer and editor on the Pacific Law Review.
“You just knew he was destined for greatness,” said Judy Chambers, former Pacific vice president for student life. “I still remember meeting Norm as a freshman and asking him what he wanted to do with his life. He told me he wanted to be a U.S. senator, so I said—why not president?”
Allen took the helm as chair of Pacific’s Board of Regents on July 1, succeeding outgoing chair Kevin Huber. He was elected to the board in 2014, served as vice chair of the board beginning in 2019, and chaired the audit committee from 2016 to 2019. Prior to being a regent, Allen served as president of the Pacific Alumni Association and on the association’s board of directors for seven years.
“Norm has literally done everything there is to do in leadership at Pacific,” said Chambers. “He truly represents the very best this university stands for.”
After graduating from law school, Allen was admitted to the State Bar of California and was in private practice for more than five years. He then moved into the insurance industry, where he spent 10 years as senior managing director and the executive in charge of claims at Carpenter Moore Insurance Services.
“Norm has grown from a student leader, to an alumnus serving as president of the alumni association, to a regent,” said Huber. “He is a thoughtful and caring leader who spearheaded the presidential search that has brought us our new president, Christopher Callahan. With his keen focus on student success, I am fully confident that Norm will be an excellent board chair and that he will successfully guide Pacific into a bold and bright future.”
Leading the university's presidential search committee was a big advantage for Allen. It allowed him to have more time to develop a strong relationship with Callahan and has helped solidify Pacific's leadership.
“Norm Allen is the quintessential Pacifican who has served our university his entire adult life,” Callahan said. “He was a stellar undergraduate student, a great student government president and an editor of our law journal during his McGeorge days before leading our alumni association and then for the past six years serving as a Regent.”
Callahan said he and Allen talk regularly about present-day challenges as well as envisioning the Pacific of the future.
“The most successful years at Pacific have been when a Regent board chair and the president work in unison for the benefit of the university,” Callahan said. “I am excited about our partnership today, and in the months and years to come.”
Currently, Allen is chief revenue officer of Woodruff Sawyer, one of the largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms in the United States. He is an expert in the field of Directors and Officers Liability Insurance and previously ran the firm’s Management Liability practice.
Outside of work, you may find Allen spending time with family and close friends. He and his longtime partner, Rob Garnett, took care over the past few years to preserve a 1909 brown shingle Craftsman in the Berkeley Hills. “A bit of a project,” understated Allen. It’s become a warm and welcoming retreat and an inviting place to appreciate the natural beauty of the Bay Area, especially while sheltering-in-place.
But much of his focus remains on ensuring his alma mater is positioned to serve students well.
“I am honored to serve as board chair and look forward to partnering with president Callahan," said Allen. “As a first-generation college student, I learned first-hand the transformative power that a Pacific education has on the lives of students. Our incredible, talented and passionate faculty and staff take seriously the mission of preparing individuals for lasting achievement and responsible leadership. I am humbled to serve this great institution.”
Pacific’s Board of Regents is entrusted with final responsibility for the quality and integrity of the education provided by the university. It selects the university president, approves the mission of the university and ensures the provision of adequate resources to support that mission. In addition, the board protects the university from external pressures antithetical to academic freedom and university autonomy and integrity.