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Insurance & Risk Management Center


insurance risk coverIn 2009, under the leadership of College of Business Dean Don Bates, the University of Houston Downtown, one of four Texas universities in the University of Houston System, launched its Insurance and Risk Management Center, offering an AACSB-accredited Bachelor in Business Administration degree program with a major in Insurance and Risk Management.

Averaging 29 years of age, UHD’s over 14,000 students typically have almost a decade of work experience. 70% are the first in their family to earn a degree, 75% are married and 75% work fulltime. Many students’ goal in attaining a college degree is to trade their current job for a career position with upward mobility. By enrolling, they demonstrate their willingness to dedicate time, effort and finances now for future career opportunities. In general, the program’s students are self-motivated mature young adults, focused in their pursuit of career-related education and opportunities. These unique college student demographics drove important choices in the development of the overall program.

Wendall Braniff, JD, Director of the IRM Center, recruited a 30-member Advisory Council of high-level industry executives representing agencies, carriers, wholesalers, risk managers, associations, and consultants to provide operating and scholarship funds, internships, employment opportunities, and other industry support for the Center and its students. Over the next two years, a curriculum of twenty-two courses was developed, including six core courses and twelve electives in property, casualty, life, health, benefits and risk management Twelve adjunct faculty members were recruited and hired to bring real-world professional experience into the classroom and teach classes for which students also complete courses toward the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Risk Manger (CRM), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Registered Health Underwriter (RHU), and Registered Employee Benefits Consultant (REBC) professional designations. In 2012, Christopher Ketcham, Ph.D,. was recruited to work with other faculty members to develop and teach select courses in the curriculum in an online format. In 2013, Pamela Hurley, PhD, joined as a fulltime faculty member.

Nine insurance and risk industry professional associations provide numerous scholarships, honorariums and other opportunities to attend nearly 60 industry meetings and eighteen conferences annually where students network with industry professionals and interview for internships and career positions. UHD and the College of Business also host several networking and career events providing students and graduates of the program a venue to meet with industry professionals to learn about the various positions available within the industry and discuss opportunities with potential employers. Human Resource and hiring managers of over 50 insurance entities are invited to attend and preview student final oral presentations in the program’s risk management courses.

Over $850,000 has been raised and contributed, including the 2012 $250,000 Myron Steves Directorship Endowment, created to promote faculty development and industry involvement in the program. In 2013 the Faculty Excellence Fund was established to ensure competitive salaries, research and publication for faculty. In four years, over $130,000 in scholarships has been paid to support program majors. Since 2010, the program has produced twenty-four graduates. Thirty-one students have completed industry internships and twenty-eight are engaged in fulltime career positions. Enrollment continues to grow, and the IRM Center ultimately aims to develop a nationally-ranked program that produces a reliable pipeline of educated, experienced graduates to fill the long-term needs and future talent gap for the Houston insurance and risk management industry.


For further information, please contact Wendall Braniff, Director, Insurance and Risk Management Center at 713-226-5552.

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Last updated or reviewed on 5/29/13

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