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Farmers in the DELS: Alumna Faye McClure Reflects on Her Company, Alma Mater, and Their Enduring Connection

By Nate Ethell ('08)

Alumna Faye McClure

Although it may not be apparent by just looking at her, Faye McClure is no ordinary corporate executive. Today Faye is vice president of strategic marketing for Farmers Insurance Group, but as a child, she grew up with humble roots in the inner city of Los Angeles—the daughter of a minister who taught her that, through hard work, she could accomplish anything.

As the youngest of 13 children, Faye recalls that Pepperdine was often at the forefront of daily conversation in her family, leading to her own decision to attend. "I was originally drawn to Pepperdine because several of my siblings graduated from the Los Angeles campus," said Faye. "But I also appreciated the Christian values that are part of the social fabric of the University."

Faye discovered her passion for business and marketing early in her academic career at Pepperdine. "One of my best memories was in my marketing class when I had to choose a project to market," said Faye. "I selected my roommate's dad, Sidney Poitier, who was the number one box office draw in the country at the time. I was able to show how he developed his career, and Mr. Poitier topped it off by coming to the class for a surprise talk. It was the best 'A+' I have ever received."

Faye went on to receive her bachelor of science in business administration and credits her alma mater for instilling in her the value of giving back to her communities. In 2005, Faye decided to do just that, joining the Graziadio School of Business and Management's Board of Visitors. "I was introduced to Dean Linda Livingstone by longtime family friend Ron Berryman ('62, MBA '67), who is a member of the Graziadio School's Board of Visitors as well as the University Board. I was inspired by the dean's vision and goals for the business school, so when I received an invitation to join the Graziadio board, I eagerly accepted."

Soon thereafter, Faye identified the Dean's Executive Leadership Series (DELS) at the Graziadio School as a strategic opportunity for Farmers, where she has worked since 1994. Designed to be the preeminent executive leadership education event among graduate business schools nationwide, Faye recognized that DELS was a unique platform on which she could raise the presence of Farmers and Pepperdine.

"When Dean Livingstone discussed the idea for DELS with me, I believed it was consistent with Farmers' core values of education and giving back to the communities we serve," Faye commented. Dean Livingstone agrees. "For over 70 years," said the dean, "Farmers and Pepperdine have shared a commitment to excellence, leadership, and education, going back to the relationship between Farmers cofounder John Tyler and the University."

Recognizing the value in the unique partnership between Farmers and Pepperdine, Faye has faithfully increased Farmers' support for the program in recent years, with over a half million dollars given to date. "Farmers' support of DELS has been essential to our ability to enhance and grow the program," Dean Livingstone remarked. "This shared commitment embodied in the series makes it possible for us to engage exceptional business leaders such as Paul Hopkins of Farmers, Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, and Anne Sweeney of Disney/ABC Television. These distinguished executives are then able to share their valuable wisdom and insights with students, alumni, and friends."

Faye also has encouraged Farmers to support other critical initiatives at the Graziadio School such as the school's Excellence Fund and its Education to Business (E2B) program, ranked one of the top ten college courses in America by U.S. News & World Report. In return, the partnership also has provided significant value to Farmers. "The program was incorporated at the time that Farmers was implementing strategic Hispanic and Asian initiatives. Our relationship with Pepperdine proved to be invaluable in targeting those segments."

Faye now serves on the Graziadio School's campaign committee and hopes Farmers' support for Pepperdine will make a lasting difference and inspire the next generation of leaders. "When much is given, much is required in return," said Faye. "Our desire is to give the opportunity of higher learning to as many students as possible."

For Dean Livingstone, Farmers is building an important bridge to community and leadership at the Graziadio School. "Farmers' generous support of DELS and other vital initiatives continues to provide life-changing experiences for our students," she reflected. "Through these experiences, students learn new perspectives, discover new possibilities, and see new potential in themselves."