By Patricia Pruitt
Whether section members are aware of it or not, section councils have regularly scheduled conference calls, and the Education and Research Section Council is no exception. Every month, we get updates on the various activities that our section is involved with. For example, we sponsored successful sessions at last year’s SOA Annual Meeting, and we are planning to sponsor sessions and continental breakfasts at the Life and Annuity Symposium in May, the Health Meeting in June, and the Annual Meeting in October. We get periodic reports on the state of our section finances. Thanks to our board partner (currently former council chair Jim Trimble), we also find out what‘s going on with the board of directors, especially any of their initiatives that would affect our section. We keep informed about the activities of the Education and Examination Committee and any changes to the exams. We learn how the planning is going for that big event coming up in July in Santa Barbara, the 2014 Actuarial Research Conference. We also discuss issues that are of importance to our members.
In addition to all the wonderful help and guidance we get from SOA staff Meg Weber and Sue Martz, the section council members have the valuable assistance of the friends of the council. Although they can’t vote, the friends participate in section council conference calls and meetings, and their contributions may include writing articles for Expanding Horizons, organizing sessions at SOA meetings, participating as presenters, and hosting breakfast sessions. They have generally had prior experience on the council, which means that current council members are able to benefit from that experience and their continued involvement. This has been particularly helpful when current council members may not know so much about a particular situation. For example, recently we had a discussion about the Halmstad Prize, how our section was involved with it, and whether we still wanted to continue that involvement. Some of us (especially me) really didn’t know that much about the history of the prize and how it was awarded. Some well-informed friends of the council were able to explain more about its significance and the process that has developed in order to determine the winner of the prize. So we section council members can count ourselves lucky to have SOA staff members and all the friends of the council as advisors and participants in the doings of our section.
Patricia Pruitt, FSA, MAAA, is an actuary at US Railroad Retirement Board, Bureau of the Actuary in Chicago, Ill. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.