A strong, personal commitment to helping others to enhance their education in a variety of ways has earned national recognition for Edward B. Rust, Jr. Rust has been well known for many years as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company of Bloomington, IL., and the other main affiliates of State Farm. In addition to working with State Farm for more than a quarter of a century, he has established a strong presence in the board rooms of a number of other organizations. In doing this, he has earned respect for his ability and energy, along with his dedication to educational assistance and improvements.Rust attended university in his home state of Illinois, graduating from the Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, and currently serves as trustee of Weslayan. He also holds Juris Doctor and Master of Business degrees from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Rust began his long association with the State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, when he joined the organization’s regional office in Dallas in 1975. Over the next decade, he made significant career advancements. By 1985, he had become president and chief executive of State Farm. Two years later in 1987, Rust was also elected to the additional position of chairman of the board at State Farm.
Rust soon began demonstrating the commitment to education that has marked his career so strongly. State Farm employees received active encouragement to help with his vision of improving the educational situation of people, with an offer of one paid day off a year to provide help at schools. Under Rust’s guidance, State Farm began an association with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, an organization with a commitment to improving the quality of teaching. The focus on education remained firm, with State Farm helping colleges and universities by funding a variety of needs including buildings, fellowships, and other programs. It also supported the Beyond the Books Educational Foundation, an organization offering grants for projects at elementary and secondary schools.
An overview of Rust’s past and present service to many organizations is indicative of both his enthusiasm for fostering the cause of education and his status in the world of business. Organizations of which he is a former chairman include the Business Higher Education forum and the Business Roundtable’s Education Initiative. Other organizations he has chaired include the Financial Services Roundtable, the American Enterprise Institute, the National Alliance of Business, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. He has also been co-chairman of the Business Coalition for Excellence in Education. Rust has served on President Bush’s Transition Advisory Team Committee on Education, as a trustee of the American Institute for Property and Liability Underwriters, and as a member of the board of overseers of the Institute for Civil Justice. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Conference Board, as a member of the National (Glenn) Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century, on the board of directors of the American Council of Life Insurance, and the advisory council of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Rust’s ongoing interest in educational improvement is demonstrated by the many organizations with which he remains involved, either as a director or in various other capacities. Among them is the No Child Left Behind Commission, an independent organization that works to ensure the effectiveness of the law in closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students and encouraging academic achievement. The Commission makes recommendations on improvements to the law to the Administration, Congress, stakeholders at State and local level, for parents and the public. The impressive list of Rust’s work with educational and business organizations is a lengthy one. He is a director of Achieve Inc., created in 1996 to help lift academic standards so that young people will be better prepared for postsecondary education and, eventually, working life. Thanks to Achieve Inc., more than half the states in America have been able to benchmark their academic standards, accountability systems, and tests against the best in the world.
Rust also co-chairs Business Roundtable, an organization of chief executive officers of prominent American companies committed to the support of public policies that result in economic growth, a vibrant economy, and a productive workforce. Roundtable companies are leaders of technology innovation and give billions of dollars each year to charities. As well as co-chairing Business Roundtable, Rust is chairman emeritus of the Illinois Business Roundtable. He is also a director of the National Center of Educational Accountability and a member of the Business Council. He is a member of the Texas and Illinois Bar Associations and serves on the boards of directors of McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., New York; Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, IL, and Helmerich and Payne Inc., Tulsa, Oklahoma.