Academic journal article Journal of Risk and Insurance

Building Bridges

Academic journal article Journal of Risk and Insurance

Building Bridges

Article excerpt


The American Risk and Insurance Association (ARIA) is in its 57th year. It is still true to its original goals, enjoys a fairly stable overall membership with increasing institutional membership, and can be proud of its annual meeting, its journal, and its awards programs. It finds itself in an environment of continued if not increasing public disillusionment with the insurance industry, of sometimes indifferent sometimes hostile academic colleagues in related disciplines, and of an increasing number and size of other professional organizations with risk and insurance related activities. This environment requires an increasing attention to communication with these other groups about who we are, what we are, and how our mutual goals may be compatible.

Our Past is a Proud One

ARIA was originally formed as the American Association of University Teachers of Insurance (AAUTI) in December, 1932, in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association (AEA) (Historical Note, 1958). The first officers were: President Solomon S. Huebner, University of Pennsylvania; Vice President Ralph Blanchard, Columbia University; and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Dickinson, University of Illinois. Board members included A. H. Mowbray, University of California; S.H. Nerlove, University of Chicago; and Corliss Parry, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

It was Dickinson who, over a year earlier, persuaded the AEA president to schedule a "round table on insurance" at its Washington, D.C. meeting on December 29, 1931. From that initial meeting, the AAUTI was formed the following year in Cincinnati. The remarkable thing is that Dickinson sent out over 100 letters to insurance professors about the round table in Washington, so we know that our profession was well established in the early 1930s.

The teaching of risk and insurance grew and proliferated for the next three decades with the support of the insurance industry through the Huebner Foundation, the Griffith Foundation, and various scholarships and fellowships. In addition, many professional and continuing education programs have been fostered by members of ARIA: e.g., CLU, CPCU, CEBS, ARM, IIS, the american College, the American Institute, and RIMS, just to name a few. While ARIA, of course, does not take credit for these organizations, nevertheless, without its forums, both written and vocal, and the nurture provided by ARIA, many of the founders of these organizations might just as well have avoided the area.

Then came the Gordon and Howell (1959) report, which inflicted deep wounds when it said that business schools were offering too many courses that were ". . . not only too narrow and specialized, but more important, they contain little real substance and provide little or no intellectual challenge to the student" such as ". . . not only principles of insurance, but also separate courses on life, property, fire, casualty and other types of insurance" (p. 139). In the same year, the Pierson (1959) report noted that, despite the existence of insurance majors in many universities, only 5 percent of a sample of Million Dollar Roundtable members had been insurance majors.

Following these reports, risk and insurance programs began curricula review and revamping, with new emphases on risk management and insurance company management. New textbooks and courses began to stress risk management soncepts and techniques. Policy-oriented courses were deemphasized.

Unfortunately, the recently released Porter and McKibbin (1988) report puts us right back in the hot seat, specifically citing insurance as one of the ". . . overly superficial and unduly specialized vocational courses . . ." which should be eliminated. It appears that we are either teaching the wrong things or doing a poor job of communicating to the business world and other academics what we are teaching. …

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