By Marc R. Masferrer, University Communications and Marketing
A $5.2 million gift from Baldwin Risk Partners and the Baldwin family to the risk management and insurance program at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus announced in the summer of 2022, has propelled rapid growth and change within the program that university leaders hope will transform it into one of the best in the country.
“At Baldwin Risk Partners, we understand the vital role insurance plays in society and in helping people protect themselves against life’s uncertainties. By developing with USF a world-class RMI school and investing in the next generation of young professionals, we will broaden awareness of the diversity of career options available within this field of study and attract talented individuals who will innovate and redefine the future of our industry,” said Lowry Baldwin, chairman and co-founder of BRP Group Inc. “By working with USF to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge, we are confident that they will make a positive impact in the field of risk management and insurance as they serve communities and create opportunities.”
The Baldwin gift highlights the progress USF has made toward building an even more successful program.
“I have been very impressed with the structure that has been built here, and it sets the stage for future growth and success” said Randy Dumm, who in July was named director of the Baldwin Risk Partners School of Risk Management and Insurance.
What has happened?
- When Kristi Hoskinson joined USF Sarasota-Manatee as the assistant vice president of strategic initiatives, she increased industry outreach efforts and helped fashion a brand that builds on the excitement and momentum created by the Baldwin gift — the largest in the campus’s history.The message for prospective students, as well as recruiters and academic advisors? “There are very exciting career paths a student can grow into with an RMI degree. The industry provides quick upward mobility, well-paying positions and diversification in roles,” Hoskinson said.
- Starting fall 2023, all undergraduates enrolled in the Muma College of Business are required to take a course on the principles of risk management, exposing them to the career opportunities available in a field that touches on so much of the economy, from health care and disaster recovery to supply chains and cybersecurity. New faculty members have been recruited and classes are being offered in Tampa and St. Petersburg, as well as on the Sarasota-Manatee campus. USF is also recruiting industry professionals to serve as adjunct professors and guest speakers.
Hoskinson helped students grow a new chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, the collegiate professional fraternity dedicated to strengthening the student talent pipeline, which has enabled USF students to network with industry professionals, both locally and nationally. One former student, criminology major Clare Coffman, was hired last spring as a claims analyst after she met Paul Palumbo, head of a Tampa insurance company and a member of USF’s RMI advisory board, while she and other Gamma Iota Sigma members were volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Sarasota.
Baldwin Risk Partners has matched its financial generosity with expert advice and other resources as USF crafts its program to meet industry needs. “They are partnering with us to help build this program,” said Steven Miller, associate professor of risk management and insurance and former director of the RMI program. “They’ve added their resources, they’ve added their leadership, they’ve added their engagement, and they’re helping us attract and leverage support from everyone in the industry.”
Others in the industry are also taking an active role, including offering financial support and for students like Madison Siefert, internship and job opportunities in a growing and evolving industry that is seeing more professionals retire than college graduates enter the field. Siefert, a founding member of Gamma Iota Sigma, spent this past summer interning with Shepherd Insurance, which is represented on the USF program’s advisory board. “There’s this talent gap in the insurance industry, and there are so many job positions to fill,” she said. “A lot of students who do an internship with an insurance agency … they’re really going to want to hold on to them and offer them a full-time job as soon as they graduate.”
These and other steps are key to the future growth of the RMI program.
Dumm believes the Baldwin Risk Partners School of Risk Management and Insurance is well positioned to join the leading group of RMI programs nationwide. USF, with the support of Baldwin Risk Partners and others in the industry, is working towards the initial objective of becoming a top 10 program in 10 years.
“We have the opportunity here to build something that will have significant positive impact on our students, the industry, and the communities that we serve,” Dumm said.