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Spencer Risk Management Challenge joins golf tournament to support students


A new academic competition will join a venerable golf tournament at the 2014 Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.'s Conference & Exhibition in Denver.

The first annual Spencer-RIMS Risk Management Challenge will pit nine teams of risk management students from universities against each other. The teams of four or fewer students are tasked with presenting a plan to solve a real-world risk management problem.

The nine teams — Appalachian State University, Butler University, Florida State University, the Illinois State University Katie School of Insurance, La Salle University, Missouri State University, St Joseph's University, the Temple University Fox School of Business and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business — submitted 10-page papers and were selected from a pool of 15 universities.

The challenge is modeled after other academic case study challenges for other disciplines and fits well with the Spencer Educational Foundation Inc.'s mission of identifying and supporting bright and talented risk management students, said Deborah Little, Richmond, Va.-based senior program manager of rising risk professionals for RIMS, noting that all members of the teams must have speaking parts in the presentations.

“There wasn't anyone doing a risk management challenge nationally,” Ms. Little said. “I went to Spencer with a grant proposal, and they thought it was a good idea.”


The risk management case study the students are working on, which was provided by Daniel H. Kugler, assistant treasurer of risk management at Snap-on Inc. in Kenosha, Wis., will enable the students to put what they have learned in the class room to practical use, said Peggy Accordino, chairwoman of the Spencer Educational Foundation.

“These are real, practical business issues from real companies,” Ms. Accordino said.

The nine teams will give their first presentations on April 27 to a panel of eight judges. From there, three finalists will be selected to present on the afternoon of April 29 in front of both the judges and a crowd of attendees at the conference. The winning team will be announced April 30 at the conference finale, with the first-place team splitting a $4,000 cash prize, the second-place team getting $3,000 and the third-place team earning $2,000.

The event will also give companies a convenient way to spot emerging risk managers, Ms. Accordino said. “It will be nice to put these students on stage and realize that this is the future of risk management,” she said. “It's kind of like the Academy Awards for risk, minus the red carpet.”

Elsewhere, the Spencer/Gallagher Golf Tournament, which has been sponsored by Itasca, Ill.-based insurance brokerage Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. for 23 years, also seeks to support the next generation of risk management students.


The event, which raised $43,000 for the Spencer Educational Foundation during last year's conference, will be held at Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton, Co., on Sunday. Teams interested in participating can register online for the event, which tees off at 8. a.m.

Timothy Boston, tournament co-chairman and Baton Rogue, La.-based marketing manager for Arthur J. Gallagher, said he was looking forward to hitting the links.

“I've played the course a couple of times,” he said. “There's some great scenery and some great views. It will be a lot of fun.”

Mr. Boston said the tournament has enjoyed renewed popularity in recent years after many companies cut back travel budgets in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. For example, last year's tournament at the Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita, Calif., attracted 118 participants.

The golf outing is a “great way” to bring members of the risk management community together, Ms. Accordino said.

“The golf outing is always fun, and we always have a great turnout,” Ms. Accordino said. “We are always grateful for Gallagher for their generosity in putting it together and taking the time to do this.”