A View from Outside
By Larry Hershberger, Director
Since it was established some nine years ago, the Vaughan Institute has experienced sustained growth of its various programs and activities. The result being that as of spring 2013 commencement, 186 students will have graduated with the Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) Certificate. The certificate recognizes the successful completion of a rigorous academic curriculum comprised of RMI and elective courses.
We are pleased that the curriculum was strengthened this spring with the addition of a new risk modeling course. In tandem with their coursework, students also participate in a stimulating experiential learning environment. This environment includes the RMI student organization Gamma Iota Sigma, industry internships, a mentoring program, professional trips, conference attendance, and targeted networking opportunities.
The opportunity to extend their RMI student experience beyond graduation was made available last fall with the establishment of the Institute's Young Alumni Board. The Board provides an excellent way for young alumni to remain engaged with the Institute. They are able to share their career experiences following graduation with students and provide useful feedback on ways they feel the Institute's curriculum and programs might be enhanced, having had a chance to put their RMI education "to work."
The strides the Institute has made in building a solid foundation of risk management and insurance education have been very gratifying. To ensure that we continue building on that foundation, last fall we initiated an external review of the Institute's programs and activities. The primary purpose of the review was to have outside RMI experts come to campus and provide us with a critical assessment of where the Institute stands currently and make recommendations for the future. Ty Leverty, Associate Professor of Finance, took the lead in this effort by securing Professors Mark Browne of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Richard Phillips of Georgia State University, to come to campus and conduct the review.
Held in conjunction with a meeting of the Institute's advisory board, the reviewers were able to gain valuable input from a cross-section of Institute stakeholders: Tippie College deans; advisory board members; RMI faculty and students; alumni; as well as from institute staff. Areas assessed included our curriculum, the certificate program, faculty resources, teaching loads, research, student-focused activities, Institute organization and staffing, etc. Recommendations for consideration pertained to expanding the reach of the Institute beyond primarily finance majors, i.e., exploring ways to grow the number of actuarial science majors in the program, bolstering faculty resources to accommodate future enrollment and curriculum expansion, and developing an institutional research infrastructure and mission. All recommendations will be evaluated and appropriately incorporated into our strategic plan.
Overall, the review was an extremely positive and worthwhile endeavor. It confirmed the Institute was on the right track, and made substantive recommendations that will help strengthen the program in the years ahead. Our foremost priority continues to be providing a first-rate RMI educational experience for students that they can apply to successful careers in the industry.
I hope you find the newsletter informative and of interest. We always welcome any comments, questions or suggestions you might have.