Actuarial Education Session at Joint Mathematics Meetings Well Attended

by Bettye Anne Case, Flordia State University


"It is very gratifying to see so much interest in helping students get a head start on pursuing a career as an actuary. Programs at colleges and universities should consider that actuarial students not only need to pass actuarial exams to begin successful careers, but also need good skills in communicating technical ideas to non–technical audiences and the ability to work effectively on interdisciplinary teams." So said Alice Gannon of USAA, a Fellow, Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), just after speaking at a well–attended session at the Annual Joint Mathematics Meetings, January 13, in San Antonio.

This session continued a long tradition of information presentations about the profession at the JMM and is "supported" each year – conceptually and also by a good spread of refreshments – by two actuarial professional societies, the Society of Actuaries and the CAS, as well as by ACTEX, an actuarial publisher.

The 2006 panel, "Current Issues in Actuarial Science Education," presented a diverse group of working actuaries and actuarial educators bringing information from a host of sources, including professional society committees, specialized publications, and academic departments. In addition to general information about helping students meet the requirements of the new exams, there was an alphabet soup of information including "VEE", "FAP", financial economics curriculum inclusions for exams FM, M and C, and accreditation considerations. Participants were urged to go to the websites of the sponsoring groups.

A description of the session with links and addresses of useful websites is posted at: Joint Mathematics Meetings – Actuarial Education

The tone of the session was earnest but friendly, and the exchanges with the panelists sometimes pointed. For example, the frequency of changes in the credentialing procedures of CAS and the Society of Actuaries (SOA) brought anguished comments from professors who want to keep their students up to date. For academics, the implementation of so many changes, which need to pass through curriculum committees and adhere to other institutional guidelines, is both arduous (and arguably, impossible) within the time between announcement and implementation. Warren Luckner, representing the SOA and also an academician from the University of Nebraska, got the biggest laugh of the evening when he declared that the non–academic actuaries with whom he serves on the committees "they think they are giving a lot of time".

Joining Gannon and Luckner on the panel were Jim Daniel (Texas Austin), Gail Hall (ACTEX), and Stuart Klugman (Drake University and SOA).

This year's session was moderated by Bettye Anne Case (Florida State), who chaired the organizing group, which included Matt Hassett (Arizona State), and Steve Paris (Florida State). For 2007, they will be joined in planning by Robert Buck (Slippery Rock University).

The audience questions and participation pointed to numerous interesting topics for future discussions. In New Orleans the session will again be planned for late in the day on the Friday of the meeting.

  • Bettye Anne Case
  • Olga Larson Professor of Mathematics
  • The Florida State University
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