Magazine article Risk Management

Head of the Class: The 3rd Annual Risk Management and Insurance Education Review

Magazine article Risk Management

Head of the Class: The 3rd Annual Risk Management and Insurance Education Review

Article excerpt

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Just as risk management has risen to prominence in the business world, so too has the discipline gained ground as a vital area of study in colleges and universities, both in the United States and around the world. And with more and more risk management professionals nearing retirement age, the demand for new talent has never been greater. Luckily for companies looking for graduates schooled in this area, risk management and insurance (RMI) undergraduate departments in close to 40 colleges across the nation are meeting this need by awarding degrees to a higher number of students each year. As Jack P. Gibson, president of the International Risk Management Institute stated in a recent report regarding risk and insurance education, "RMI programs can be an important tactic to help insurance organizations respond effectively to the talent crisis the insurance industry will face over the next 10 to 15 years when baby boomers retire."

But these university-level RMI programs are not merely graduating a record number of students, they are also tailoring the coursework to meet modern risk management requirements. "Major changes include incorporating more traditional and enterprise risk management into RMI curriculums," said R.B. Drennan, faculty representative for Gamma Iota Sigma, the international fraternity for risk and insurance management professionals. Some schools are turning to nontraditional topics of study by putting more of an emphasis on alternative financing solutions other than insurance.

New and Innovative Schools

Since our last look at risk and insurance education last year, there have been a few newcomers to the field. For starters, the State University of New York (SUNY) Oswego announced in July that it is founding a new educational center. The Gordon A. Lenz Center for Finance, Insurance and Risk Management will support the first dedicated four-year program to focus on insurance and risk management studies in the entire SUNY system, which includes 64 schools. Named after a well-known insurance industry innovator, the Lenz Center will focus on health care risk management, but also support various other types of student education and continuing professional education, while also devoting attention to social responsibility and ethics within the RMI field.

Also new to the RMI education arena is East Carolina University. The Greenville, North Carolina-based school started its program with a gift from the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina. Dr. Brenda Wells was hired to direct and build the program, which began in August 2009 and graduated its first student just last month. Wells has proved ambitious in her leadership of the young program. She formed the ECU Society of Risk Management and Insurance, traveled with students to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America's "Big I" legislative conference in Washington, D.C., and the Young Agents convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and has secured several representatives from big-name insurance companies to lecture her students.

But Wells aims to be more than just an instructor of risk management and insurance. "I offer my students my cell phone number so they are free to call me anytime, for any reason," she said. "Whether it's for a study question or for insurance purchasing advice or how to file a police report after a car theft. So they have the dedication of the faculty as well."

Dedicated faculty can also be found at the University of North Texas. The UNT undergraduate RMI program was established in 1949 and has the distinction of being one of the oldest and most innovative programs of its kind in the nation. In addition to being active with industry partners such as the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) and the Insurance Council of Texas and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (CPCU), UNT is active with the Risk Manager in Residence program, courtesy of a grant from the Spencer Educational Foundation. …

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