Regent Norman Allen: Longtime leader, lifetime Pacifican

After nine years on University of the Pacific’s Board of Regents, the last three as chair, Norman Allen ’88, ’94 completes his final term June 30—fulfilling a legacy of leadership at Pacific that began more than three decades ago.

Allen is the only person in the university’s 171-year history to serve as student body president, president of the Pacific Alumni Association and chair of the Board of Regents.

“Pacific absolutely changed my life, so it's always seemed natural to me to give back to Pacific any way that I could with my time or with my philanthropy,” Allen said. “I feel amazingly lucky to have worked alongside a couple dozen regents for the last nine years.”

He joined the Board of Regents in 2014. One of the oldest in the State of California, the board is a group of volunteers who oversee the university’s finances, mission and strategic goals.

“Norm has helped me in more ways than he will ever know." - Angelica Madrigal Morales ’25, a recipient of the Norman E. Allen Endowed Scholarship.

“Norm is the quiet giant of our board,” Regent Nava Fathi ’95 said. “He is very diplomatic, super kind and yet consistently strong and effective. Norm created a Committee on Excellence that has us looking much more intently at how we do our work. He had the vision to make that happen.”

Allen became chair in 2020, assuming leadership only a few months into the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. As new challenges developed, he ensured the board effectively managed the health and safety of students and the financial health of the university.

He also led efforts to establish Pacific as a national leader on social justice and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Prior to becoming chair, Allen worked with his fellow regents to reimagine the McGeorge School of Law to address the changing demand for legal education. He also led the search for the university’s 26th president, Christopher Callahan, which Allen calls a “watershed moment” in the university’s life.

Christopher Callahan and Norm Allen

President Christopher Callahan and Regent Norm Allen

“Norm is the quintessential Pacifican,” Callahan said. “His dedication to this university—first as a student and now as a regent—has created innumerable opportunities for our students. I am tremendously grateful for the countless hours he has invested into Pacific, and I know we will continue to benefit from his wisdom and support in the years to come.”

Allen also has created scholarships to support first-generation, Stockton-area, LGBTQ and Black students.

regent allen and student angelica morales

Regent Norm Allen and Angelica Madrigal Morales at the 2023 Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon.

“Norm has helped me in more ways than he will ever know, not only financially through his generous scholarship but also by giving me priceless advice and confidence,” said Angelica Madrigal Morales ’25, a recipient of the Norman E. Allen Endowed Scholarship.

He was awarded the university’s highest honor, the Order of Pacific, at the spring 2023 commencement. The award was presented by his longtime mentor and friend Judy Chambers ’58, ’60, former vice president for student life.

Judy Chambers and Norm Allen

Judy Chambers presented Allen with the Order of Pacific at the 2023 spring commencement.

“For the past three years, Norm has played a central leadership role in putting our university on a course to be the very best student-centered university in this nation,” Chambers said during the ceremony.

A first-generation student from the Bay Area, Allen earned his bachelor’s degree from Pacific in 1988 and a Juris Doctor degree from McGeorge in 1994, where he served as comment editor and staff writer of the Pacific Law Review, known then as the Pacific Law Journal.

After passing the State Bar of California, he was in private practice for more than five years before moving into the insurance industry. He is currently senior vice president and partner at Woodruff Sawyer, one of the largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms in the United States.

Looking forward, Allen sees tremendous opportunities for Pacific.

“I have long thought that this decade is Pacific’s decade and a real opportunity with a visionary president, some exciting initiatives like our School of Health Sciences, a strong financial position and other attributes that put us in a position to excel through hard work,” Allen said.

commencement ceremony

2016 commencement ceremony

What he plans to do with his newfound free time is less certain, but he knows it will involve Pacific.

“The engineer driving the train doesn't get to stop driving until it reaches the station, and we don't get to the station until June 30, so I haven't planned beyond that,” Allen said. “I will absolutely, always stay involved with Pacific in one way or another.

“I have years left of engagement with Pacific. Quite frankly, I just love the place. So somehow, some way, I will always be engaged and involved.”