The Value of University Partnerships
Erich Brandt

The Value of University Partnerships

Erich Brandt January 18, 2017 Posted in: Blog Posts, General, Community Involvement

The strategic plan of the Casualty Actuarial Society includes a directive to “Develop strong relationships with academics and increase awareness among academics of the CAS career path.” Recognizing there are currently just over 3,000 four-year degree-granting institutions in the United States, a question arises as to how far this outreach extends. With this in mind, I’ve gone back to my roots and visited the two academic institutions that have most impacted my life.

Illinois State University (ISU) is an inaugural winner of the CAS University Award and has maintained the “Center of Actuarial Excellence” designation bestowed by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). I graduated from ISU in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with an actuarial science concentration. Back then, an actuarial science major was not offered as it has been now for many years. ISU has a rich history of graduating distinguished actuaries; the current president of the CAS, Brian Brown, is an ISU alumnus.

Both of my parents graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) in the mid-1960s. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Milwaukee over the years and consider the city (as well as the state’s NFL team) my adopted home town. Along with ISU, UWM is one of 17 schools in the U.S. to be designated by the SOA as a Center of Actuarial Excellence.

Pinnacle and ISU have been partners in learning and fostering the casualty actuarial profession for many years. This partnership spans from collaborating on research initiatives to offering expertise to the school’s classrooms and actuarial clubs. We recently hosted several of ISU’s actuarial science scholarship winners at our office. Kristen Marshall, a scholarship recipient, said, “I enjoyed hearing from company leaders and learning more about the dynamic work of a consulting actuary.” 

One brisk November morning around Thanksgiving, I found myself wandering the math building at UWM to meet its undergraduate director, Professor Yang Ho, and several actuarial science students. I was impressed by not only the number of exams passed by the students, but by the knowledge they displayed about various practical issues facing the actuarial profession. Professor Ho’s emphasis on internships and bringing in industry guest speakers to play an active part in UWM’s actuarial science curriculum is one of the reasons for his students’ successes.

It’s awesome that, as professionals, we can become an integrated part of a university’s curriculum and foster the next generation of actuaries’ desire to learn about actuarial science. While working with two universities is enough for this author, I highly encourage other actuaries or insurance professionals to network with universities in which they have a vested interest as alums, in perpetuating their family legacy or in keeping their programs local. It is astounding to see the energy, enthusiasm and innovative ideas recent graduates can bring to the table.

Erich Brandt is a Consulting Actuary with Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, Inc. in the Bloomington, Illinois office. He has over 19 years of experience in assignments involving loss reserving, funding studies, cost allocation mechanisms, loss cost projections, competitive analysis, captive feasibility studies, personal lines ratemaking and financial analysis of insurance companies. Erich is a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA) and a member of the CAS Examination Committee.
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