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Foster Farms' Fox, CalPERS' Read bring executive know-how to UC Davis MBAs

April 19, 2007

Robert Fox, who has led Foster Farms and other major corporations for decades, has donated $350,000 to the University of California, Davis, to help the Graduate School of Management bring the know-how of other seasoned executives -- like Russell Read of CalPERS -- to its MBA programs.

The gift for the Robert A. Fox Executive-in-Residence Program was announced and Read, the chief investment officer at CalPERS, was introduced today (April 19) as this year's executive at a management school event at the downtown Sacramento headquarters of the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

Fox, a member of the management school's Dean's Advisory Council, told the gathering that he wanted to give something back after he, as executive-in-residence in 2001, taught a course on corporate strategy from the perspective of the chief executive.

"I am very interested in education, and while I chose a career in business, I've participated and been involved in a number of different ways at several universities," he said. "By founding this endowment, I will ensure that there are dollars to continue the program and raise the level of the positive experience."

In thanking Fox for the gift, Dean Nicole Woolsey Biggart said the executives-in-residence add levels of complexity to the knowledge imparted through the MBA program.

"Students come to realize that business decisions often involve much more than money and can include politics, relationships, traditions, culture and ethics," Biggart said. "Life at the top is a constant balancing act, and our students learn from the best.

"We are very grateful to Bob for his generous gift that will allow us to continue to bring the best and brightest from business to UC Davis," she said.

The program

Each year since 1993, the Graduate School of Management has invited a senior-level, often recently retired executive to teach a quarter-long MBA course in his or her area of management expertise. The executive-in-residence program gives students and faculty a unique opportunity to work closely with a top business leader. In addition to class lectures, the executive-in-residence brings in other high-level executives to guest lecture, meets with students informally and makes a presentation to the school's Business Partners.

With responsibility for CalPERS' $240 billion investment portfolio, this year's executive-in-residence is one of the nation's most influential money managers. He is well educated -- he has a doctorate, two master's degrees and an MBA -- and has taught at the University of Maine and Stanford University.

In the classroom

Read has already had one meeting with the 65 MBA students in his course on portfolio construction and risk management.

"Teaching is something I find really connects me with the critical research," he said. "It forces you to think in terms of comprehensiveness and within an analytical framework for issues.

"The students themselves keep you sharp and ask more difficult questions than naturally arise during the day-to-day workday," he added.

Fox said Read will add a lot to the students' education: "He'll bring a great deal of insight about the financial investment arena and social responsibility that students need as they go out in the business world full time."

Brian Hoblit, a second-year MBA student is in Read's class, which continues every other Saturday through June 2.

"One of the strengths of the Graduate School of Management," Hoblit said, "is the access we have to top CEOs, business leaders and decision makers, especially in the Sacramento region."

The MBA student really wanted to take Read's course, but was not sure he was up for the six-hour class on Saturdays. "Mr. Read sealed that decision for me," Hoblit said. "He is an engaging and gifted instructor."

The gift from Fox will compensate the executive-in-residence for teaching a quarter-long course, pay for travel and lodging, provide for a reader or student assistant for the course, and support other outreach events to broaden access to the executive.

Background on Fox and Read

Fox, who retired from Livingston, Calif.-based Foster Farms in 2000, led the largest poultry producer in the Western United States to record sales and profits. He has more than 40 years of domestic and international business experience -- including Revlon International, Clarke Hooper America, Continental Can Company, Nabisco, Del Monte, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco International and Canada Dry International. He attended Colgate University and holds an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.

Read oversees the strategic plan and direction of CalPERS' Investment Office and its staff of 190. Before joining CalPERS last June, Read was deputy chief investment officer for Deutsche Asset Management and Scudder Investments. He also held senior investment positions with Zurich Scudder, the OppenheimerFunds, CNA Insurance, Prudential Insurance and First Chicago. Read holds a doctorate in political economy and master's degrees in economics and political science, all from Stanford University. He also has an MBA from the University of Chicago.

The management school partners with CalPERS, the nation's largest public pension fund, and the California State Teachers' Retirement System to offer a fellowship program in which MBA students train in the two pension funds' investment offices. Professor Brad Barber, director of the UC Davis Center for Investor Welfare and Corporate Responsibility, has authored a study examining the shareholder wealth generated by CalPERS' institutional investor activism.

Past executives-in-residence

Previous executives-in-residence include:

  • 2006: Sotiris Kolokotronis, founder and owner of SKK Developments
  • 2005: Lee McIntire retired executive, partner and member of the board of directors of the Bechtel Group
  • 2004: Lon Hatamiya, former secretary of the California Technology Trade & Commerce Agency
  • 2003: Linda Oubre, co-founder, and former director president and COO of BriteSmile
  • 2002: Charles Steinberg, retired president and CEO of the Broadcast and Professional Co. of Sony Electronics
  • 2001: Robert Fox, retired president and chief executive officer of Foster Farms
  • 2000: W. Keith Kennedy, retired president and CEO of Watkins-Johnson Co.
  • 1999: John R. Thomas, retired president and CEO of J.P. Morgan Trust Bank (Japan)
  • 1998: John W. Collins retired president and COO of The Clorox Company
  • 1997: John W. Weiser, senior vice president and director of Bechtel Group
  • 1996: Edward M. Carson, retired chairman and CEO of First Interstate Bancorp
  • 1995: David E. Collins, former vice chairman of Johnson & Johnson and retired president of Schering-Plough HealthCare Products
  • 1994: Robert McClements, Jr., retired chairman of Sun Company
  • 1993: James L. Ketelsen, retired chairman and CEO of Tenneco Inc.

The Graduate School of Management, celebrating its 25th anniversary, provides management education to more than 400 MBA students in programs on the Davis campus, in Sacramento and in the San Francisco Bay Area. For 12 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the management school among the top 50 business schools in the nation.

Media contact(s):

  • Nicole Woolsey Biggart, Graduate School of Management, (530) 752-7366, nwbiggart@ucdavis.edu
  • Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-8248, jaeasley@ucdavis.edu, cell day of event (530) 219-4545

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