Chatting with the Chair

Chatting with The Chair

By Curtis Huntington, Chair of the Education and Research Section

Welcome to the newest edition of your sections newsletter Expanding Horizon. These are exciting times for most of us, especially for those interested in actuarial research and education. The SOA is once again changing the actuarial syllabus, almost before the ink was dry on the previous changes. With input from many of us, it will be interesting to see what the next round of changes will look like. It will be even more interesting to see how we will explain these changes to one of our core constituencies, the students.

The Casualty Actuarial Society has a head start on making some changes. Effective with the November 2003 administration the CAS will no longer jointly sponsor the Course 3 examination with the SOA. The CAS will give credit to students who pass the SOA Course 3 examination, but the SOA will NOT give credit to students who pass the CAS examination. For those of teaching, this seems like an easy sell to our studentstake the SOA Course 3 examination. One wonders how much a separate administration of a CAS-only Course 3 examination will cost in time and effortand to what purpose.

As explained elsewhere in these pages, the two main 501(c)(3) organizations serving our community, the Actuarial Education and Research Fund and The Actuarial Foundation, are about to merge. At least in this instance, it looks like this will be a change that will lead to some improvements and efficiencies in these organizations combined ability to raise funds and to administer programmes on behalf of the profession.

The Education and Research Section may be one of the smallest sections within the SOA, but it has an extremely loyal constituency. In addition, the section also has a reputation of being one of the more innovative sectionsleading the way for online release of all publications and in initiating support for the recent enhancements to the SOA online library research capabilities, for examples. I hope that you, the members of the section, will take pride in this well–deserved reputation for excellence.

One of the primary duties of the section is to support the SOA as a whole in the developments of exciting meeting and seminar programmes. Sessions scheduled for the upcoming spring meetings are highlighted in another part of this newsletter. A quick review of them shows some of the range of interests of our membership.

Recently, we have been making a concerted effort to schedule sessions, often in conjunction with other Sections that are in the format of teaching sessionsexpanding the horizons, if you will, of the regular membership of the Society, the ones who are the main attendees at these sessions. It is an unfortunate fact that of the sessions at these meetings are fairly poorly attended by members of the E&R Section itself.

As an aside, I would remind the full–time academic members of the section that the SOAs very many generous Academic Initiatives Program provides a myriad of opportunities for academics to get involved with the programmes of the Society with generous provisions for expense reimbursement. This is one very good chance for you to showcase your research efforts to a wide audience and to gain new ideas for further research.

The major activity that many of our members do participate in is the annual Actuarial Research Conference. This years, being held at the University of on 79 August, celebrates 100 years of an actuarial program in Ann Arbor. Next year, the ARC will be held at the University of Iowa and in 2005 we will meet, for the first time, in Mexico City where we will be hosted by our colleagues at ITAM.

Change is coming, however, even to the way sections are being operated and run. Karen Gentilcores article reports on the activities of the Implementation Task Force on Sections and Practice Areas. It is important reading and I commend it to you.

The section survives, and thrives, on the activities and energies of its membership. I strongly encourage you to consider ways that you can contribute from volunteering to participate in a session at a meeting, to suggesting ideas for articles, to running for a seat on the Council. At a minimum, I hope that you will all participate in the upcoming section elections by casting your votes as we choose leaders for next year.

Finally, please let us hear from you. If we are doing something right, we would like to know that. If we are doing something wrong, and not adequately representing your interests, we need to know that as well. For, in the end, it is truly your section.