Cynthia Burleson, director of UCA’s Insurance and Risk Management department, traveled to Singapore in June to accept a designation for the program by the International Insurance Society as a Global Center of Insurance Excellence.
“The certification is very prestigious to have; only 34 programs in the world have received the designation,” Burleson said.
UCA is the only college in Arkansas with an Insurance and Risk Management degree program. The program was also recognized in Best Review 2018 as one of the top 15 University programs in the country.
The International Insurance Society considers each university’s graduation and employment rate, student qualifications, and professional development before awarding designation. The designation was created to highlight schools with the best new talent as well as to raise awareness about the shortage of talent in the industry.
UCA’s program has been a part of the college since 2001, and around twenty graduates from the program each year. Ninety-nine percent of graduates find industry jobs within a month of graduation.
“Every student who wants a job in the industry can easily get one,” said Burleson. “We are constantly getting messages and notices for job and internship opportunities. Risk management is really the overriding driver of the program. We teach our students how to address risk. We learn how to identify, address, treat, and manage risk. Insurance is a way to finance risk. We like to produce students with good foundational knowledge, so we can send them out in the field knowing they’ll be prepared.”
The department brings in local businesses, like Modern Woodman and Walmart, and industry leaders, such as state commissioners and Wes Booker, to speak and get involved with the program.
The program offers several opportunities for their students to network and work with several different agencies around the community. UCA even has it’s own Gamma Iota Sigma chapter, an academic fraternity that focuses on facilitating interenst in insurance and risk management as well as other acturial science professions. More could be done to bring awareness about the program; many students around the college of business don’t realize the department is there.
“All majors are required to take intro classes for different departments in the college except for risk management, but they’re trying to change that. There are tons of scholarships available; more than there are students in the program,” senior Emily Humphrey said. “The department paid for me to go to leadership training in Columbus this summer, and I had the opportunity to meet people from several different cultures.”
Another student was able to intern in Saudi Arabia this summer, partially because of collaboration between Burleson and some colleagues she had met at the conference.
The Young Insurance Professionals, a student organization sponsered by the Professional Insurance Agents of Arkansas, are hosting The Forum, a public speaking event, on Sept. 10 from noon to 2pm in the Brewer Hegeman Conference Center. All students, not just business majors, are welcomed and encouraged to go.