Phil Brooks is busy enough practicing business law as a member of Simmons, Perrine, Moyer & Bergman, PLC. But once a week, he gladly pays forward what he learned from Institute founder Emmett J. Vaughan by engaging students in his life and health and property and liability courses.
“I always had an interest in insurance, but Emmett’s general undergraduate course really ignited my interest in insurance,” says Phil, who holds an MBA in finance with an insurance and risk management emphasis from The University of Iowa as well as a law degree from Creighton University.
Emmett encouraged Phil through undergraduate and graduate school, when Phil served as a T.A. for the insurance program. Phil chose to go to law school and become an attorney at Moyer & Bergman in Cedar Rapids.
“Emmett continued to be my mentor. I used him as an expert witness, and he asked me to be an instructor,” he says. Phil taught from 1977 to 1983, and joined the revamped Institute as an adjunct instructor in 2005, following Emmett’s death.
Phil is in it for the students, who are “an absolute blast.”
“It’s fun getting to know them, being around them, teaching them, exchanging information, and helping them along,” he says.
Phil takes the responsibility of teaching — but not himself — seriously. He says, “I view them as consumers. My job is to provide the best product I can every semester.”
“It’s a very dynamic industry,” he notes. “I want students to take abstract concepts and apply them to real situations. Once you can do that, you can solve problems.”
Team teaching and learning are important in Phil’s classroom. Students take part in business-like practices such as meetings and presentations. Phil welcomes outside experts to speak and invites them to spend time with students outside of class when possible, putting students face-to-face with potential employers.
Phil considers himself fortunate to teach at The University, where the deans of the Tippie College and insurance companies are extremely supportive. Having devoted much of his career to legal aspects of the insurance industry, Phil’s connections from AEGON, TrueNorth Companies, United Fire Group, Wellmark, and the State of Iowa serve as a great resource for students. He also acknowledges the ongoing support of the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa, which Phil credits for educating him in the practical legal aspects of the insurance business.
“The volunteers from the industry are truly interested in insurance development and education because they want the best and brightest in their industry,” he says.
Phil and his wife, Diane, reside in Cedar Rapids, where their daughter attends high school. Their son attends The University of Iowa, and their oldest daughter will soon begin teaching in Mexico. Phil also serves as the chair of the insurance committee for the Iowa State Bar Association and is a member of the Linn County Bar Association.