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Board of Governors Approves Two Motions of Interest to Academic Actuaries

Board of Govenors Approves Two Motions of Interest to Academic Actuaries

by Richard (Dick) L. London

At the October 23-24 Meeting of the Society of Actuaries Board of Governors, two motions addressing matters of interest to academic actuaries brought to the Board by the Task Force on Academic Infrastructure were approved by considerable margins.

The first motion addressed the issue of undertaking a process of accreditation for academic actuarial science programs.

In general, accreditation of academic programs, departments and colleges is a well-established concept in many academic disciplines, but has not heretofore been undertaken in the field of actuarial science. There are many reasons for establishing accreditation standards, including the following:

  1. It is a well-accepted and generally successful mechanism for encouraging self- improvement in the quality of academic programs.

  2. It strengthens the relationship between the academic programs and the associated profession and its practitioners.

  3. It provides a degree of consistency of quality across various academic programs.

  4. By defining several categories of accreditation, institutions can be recognized for meeting standards consistent with their own missions.

  5. It increases the respect that practitioners hold for the academic programs, knowing that their own professional society has examined the accredited programs and judged them to be of high quality.

  6. Accreditation is a service to high school students in their process of evaluating schools to possibly attend.

The issue of establishing an accreditation process for actuarial science programs was debated by the Board at several meetings throughout 2004. The motion presented at the October meeting, which passed unanimously, constitutes an affirmation by the Board that this is something that should indeed be done. The details of the accreditation process are still to be established, however. That task is assigned to a new Implementation Task Force, under the guidance of Warren Luckner, the new SOA vice president for actuarial promotion. That task force is instructed to report its completed task to the Board at its June 2005 meeting.

The second motion of interest relates to the oft-considered issue of SOA exam exemption for certain students attending certain institutions, which has come to be known as the "Alternate Route Proposal." It was investigated by the Garber Committee in the 1970s, the FES/FEM Proposals of the 1980s and the Radcliffe Task Force of the late 1990s.

It should be understood that the motion presented to the Board, which passed with only twith only three dissenting votes, was not an actual authorization to undertake an Alternate Route process, but rather constituted approval of a set of principles that should guide any future Alternate Route Proposal. The Board authorized the appointment of a Further Study Task Force to recommend a definitive set of rules and procedures for such a proposal. The Further Study Task Force is to report its completed task to the Board at its October 2005 meeting.