By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor of Risk & Insurance®
With a board of governors that includes representatives from Guy Carpenter, the ACE Group of Cos., the Philadelphia Insurance Cos. and Hiscox, Philadelphia-based Saint Joseph's University has taken aim at creating a substantial risk management and insurance degree program.
What is now known as the Academy of Risk Management and Insurance was launched this academic year. It is housed within the Erivan K. Haub School of Business (HSB), which itself has doubled in size within the past five years, to around 2,300 undergraduate students, according to university officials.
David Benglian, the executive director of the new academy, told Risk & Insurance®
that the academy has $1.2 million in pledges toward a scholarship fund with the goal of raising a total of $3 million.
"The engine that you try to get is that, if you can provide scholarships on the front end and jobs on the back end, you almost have perpetual motion," said Benglian.
Risk management and insurance courses were formulated as a track within the business school's finance department three years ago, according to Benglian, and registration in those courses has grown steadily.
He said about 127 risk management and insurance courses were taken by HSB undergraduates in 2007, and that the school is on track to push that mark to more than 200 in the school year ending this spring.
Saint Joseph's already has an actuarial science degree program housed in its mathematics department. Benglian believes that actuarial students will naturally gravitate to insurance as a minor. Same goes, he said, for the school's criminal justice students, who could find work as investigators of insurance claims.
"I think we are going to get a lot of cross-selling, so to speak, that takes advantage of existing programs here at the university," Benglian said.
HOW THE IDEA HATCHED
With its business school, Saint Joseph's has taken a niche approach built on the help of corporate partnerships. The Haub School's Center for Food Marketing, for instance, has strong relationships with regional food marketers Wawa and Giant Food Stores and with national brands like General Mills, according to Joseph DiAngelo, HSB dean.
It was through conversations with James Maguire Sr., the chairman of the nearby Philadelphia Insurance Cos. and a major St. Joe's donor, that the idea for a model similar to the Center for Food Marketing was arrived at for the Academy of Risk Management, said DiAngelo.
"I said to Jim, 'You get the members for the board initially, and I will work on the curriculum,' and so that is what we did," said DiAngelo.
University administrators hope to be minting more than 200 risk management and insurance majors per year within four to five years, he added.
In addition to Maguire, William Graham, CEO of Philadelphia-based broker The Graham Co., is a member of the academy's board of governors.
THE PHILLY CONNECTION
The Philadelphia area is host to the U.S. headquarters of the ACE Group, and XL Insurance Co. has offices in Exton, Pa., 45 minutes from downtown Philadelphia. Numerous smaller carriers, risk management consultants, and brokerages of all stripes, are also locally based. An additional insurance connection is that Brian Dupperault, the chairman and CEO of brokerage powerhouse Marsh and McLennan Cos., is a graduate of Saint Joseph's (Mathematics, '56).
The city also hosts other substantial risk management programs at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. Neighboring La Salle University offers a risk management and insurance minor and the Philadelphia-based LeBow College of Business at Drexel University also offers risk management courses.
But DiAngelo and Benglian don't look at themselves as being in direct competition with other Philadelphia programs.
"There's plenty of room for good programs," said DiAngelo.
That was pretty much the spirit with which the news of the nascent Saint Joseph's program was received by a risk management professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
"I am absolutely pleased because it is my view that we should be educating all students in more depth in the risk management frontier," said Olivia Mitchell, the chairwoman of the Insurance and Risk Management Department at Wharton.
Wharton's risk management program is the oldest in the country, having offered its first class in insurance in 1904. Mitchell said she expects that risk management is going to continue to get broader attention, not only in the university setting but in the culture at large.
"It used to be that the risk manager of a company had a dank office in the basement, and now everyone is supposed to be a risk manager," said Mitchell. "It has gone from a very compartmentalized narrow purview to a much broader responsibility of everyone from the janitor on up," she said.
March 5, 2010
Copyright 2010© LRP Publications