Academy of Risk Management and Insurance Board Invests in SJU Students
Industry Leaders Taking Program to the Next Level
The ascent of the Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) major at Saint Joseph’s University has been nothing short of meteoric.
What began in 2007 as a few Finance courses in the Erivan K. Haub School of Business became a major in 2011 and is now the No. 3-ranked RMI program in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. Business Insurance lists SJU’s RMI as the country’s 10th largest program of its type. This year’s graduating class of more than 40 is quadruple the size of the first graduating class in 2011. One of Hawk Hill’s most sought-after majors, RMI boasts a near 100 percent job placement with companies of varying sizes and specialties. RMI graduates earn starting salaries in the low- to mid-$50s.
The program’s ascendance can be traced to 2006 when industry titan James J. Maguire ’58 issued a clarion call for SJU to take the reins in preparing the next generation of insurance and risk management professionals. Haub Dean Joseph A. DiAngelo, Ed.D. ’70 responded quickly to get the program off the ground and continues to champion it. The 2007 inauguration of SJU’s Academy of Risk Management and Insurance (ARMI) was met with enthusiasm from industry executives eager to join its Board of Governors (BoG). Establishing RMI courses was ARMI’s first step in answering Maguire’s call to action.
With Maguire as its chair, the ARMI BoG has grown to a 40-plus member “who’s who” of the insurance industry in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago. This group counsels Haub School faculty, helps foster collaboration between students and the industry and provides financial support for student scholarships and operating costs. AIG, CHUBB (formerly ACE), Marsh, Munich Re, Philadelphia Insurance and Zurich are but a few of the local, national and global organizations represented on the board. Accounting firms, brokerage operations, carriers, corporate buyers and law firms claim membership on the BoG, which also includes executive-level alumni and parents representing their companies.
“We are passionate about educating our field’s future generations,” said BoG member Debbie Rodgers, senior vice president of risk management at Aramark. “We Baby Boomers are looking around asking ‘where’s the succession plan?’ It’s now our job to educate the next generation of professionals about how interesting, engaging and fulfilling our industry is.”
Former insurance industry executive Mike Angelina served on the BoG for three years before retiring and assuming the role of ARMI Executive Director in 2012. Angelina pulls the strings behind the scenes to align the goals of both of his “customers” – SJU students and the insurance industry. “Our students want great jobs and companies want to hire employees who are well-prepared to succeed in the insurance and risk management industries,” he said.
The RMI major distinguishes itself with its industry-driven curriculum, which is aligned with the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation. As the industry’s premier credential, the CPCU designation is earned through eight examinations, three or four of which some SJU students attain before they graduate. Simply put, SJU RMI graduates speak the complicated language of insurance and don’t face much of an initial learning curve as young professionals.
ARMI has a number of initiatives intended to immerse RMI students in the field. Students participate in BoG member-judged team competition. Regular symposia bring a combined 40 industry executives, 500 industry professionals and 200 students to campus to explore industry issues. Monthly executive speaker series, resume reviews, mock interviews and networking events add another layer to the RMI experience.
Numerous companies represented on the BoG have established risk management and insurance scholarships to support RMI majors. ARMI established its Insurance Executive of the Year award in 2014 as a means to raise its profile and help students network with industry professionals. The most recent honoree was United Kingdom-based Inga Beale, the first female CEO in the venerable 350-year history of Lloyds of London.
“We have been recognized by the industry for providing thought leadership to their current employees and talented future employees. The latter is evident in that our students are getting great jobs with the top companies in the insurance industry,” Angelina said. “We believe we are launching successful careers for our students.”
– Kevin Kaufman