GU, The Institutes integrate curricula

Students in the Risk Management and Insurance program at Gannon University received a new opportunity following an agreement of collaboration between the university and The Institutes, an educational institution delivering knowledge solutions that drive powerful business results for the risk management and property-casualty industry.

Students can now take courses within The Institutes’ Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU®) designation as part of their Collegiate Studies for CPCU program.

With this program, The Institutes waives the cost for up to two courses, so that students can begin work toward their careers by earning the insurance industry’s premier designation.

To qualify for the program, students must earn a “B” or better as their final grade in the classes. Students who earn two of these CPCU course waivers, and go on to complete The Institutes’ Ethics and the CPCU Code of Professional Conduct course will earn The Institutes’ Collegiate Studies for CPCU Certificate.

The Institutes’ curriculum is utilized within the following three Gannon courses: Commercial Insurance and Risk Management, Introduction to Risk Management and Insurance, and Insurance Operations.

This allows students taking these courses to begin working toward their CPCU designation.

According to David Smith, an instructor in the Dahlkemper School of Business, because students are able to take these courses during their undergraduate education, upon completion they will be approximately 25 percent complete with earning their CPCU designation.

Connor Harrison, director of custom products at The Institutes, shared some benefits of the program.

“We think earning the Collegiate Studies for CPCU certificate will make a difference for students when looking for employment,” Harrison said. “The people with potential within a company are working on a credential like CPCU; they’re really on a different playing field all-together.”

In addition to 44 years of insurance experience with Erie Insurance, Smith is a retired United States military Intelligence Officer, who obtained practical risk management experience while on active duty.

Because of his background, Smith has brought in former co-workers to speak to his classes; one being a former employee of Homeland Security, who spoke to the students about kidnap and ransom insurance.

Carly Vicary, a sophomore risk management and insurance major, explained why listening to guest speakers is beneficial for her.

“Along with the material in these courses, we, have also had various guest speakers, which has allowed me to see what the jobs we learn about in class are truly like,” she said.

The courses within the program are taught by both Smith and adjunct professors, who are professionals in their field, many of whom come from Erie Insurance.

“We’re bringing in people that really know the material,” Smith said.

Not only does Gannon’s collaboration with The Institutes affect current undergraduate students, but it also provides opportunities for currently employed professionals who may have already completed certain risk management and insurance courses.

Through this program, professionals in this field who decide to continue their education at Gannon will receive up to nine credits toward their designation.

Smith explained the appeal of this aspect of the program for a local insurance professional.

“We are recognizing that these people do already know these subjects,” Smith said.

“There is no sense in making them take the classes over again, and it makes it more attractive to insurance industry employees to come to Gannon.”

The conversation for collaboration between Gannon and The Institutes has been ongoing for approximately two years.

The university is one of 33 colleges and universities participating in the program as of January 2014.



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Editor’s note: this article is has been updated and clarified from its original version, published on Feb. 19 in The Gannon Knight.