USF Sarasota-Manatee is adding a new degree program, Risk Management and Insurance.

USF Sarasota-Manatee to debut insurance program in the fall

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: March 15, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (March 15, 2017)USF Sarasota-Manatee this fall will add Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) to its undergraduate degree programs in the College of Business, joining general business administration, management, accounting, marketing, finance and information technology.

“This really is an exciting development, both for the College of Business and for the local insurance community,” College of Business Dean Dr. James Curran said.

Anticipated to launch in August, the RMI program arose out of meetings with local insurance company executives and after the college introduced an RMI minor last fall. Currently, only one other public university in Florida offers a bachelor’s degree in Risk Management and Insurance.

Local business leaders say the program’s timing is just right, as broad turnover is starting to take place in upper-level or executive ranks focused on risk analysis, underwriting, wealth management and other critical areas within the global financial industry.

This attrition, which is expected over the next 10 years, will create numerous opportunities for USFSM graduates, including those looking to pursue rewarding, high-demand careers locally.

“I think it gives USFSM a competitive advantage as far as attracting students to an industry that’s a lot deeper than just sales,” said Keith Mercier, president of the West Florida subsidiary of CBIZ Insurance Services. “People often think insurance is just about sales. It’s much more than that.”

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Dr. James Curran, dean of the College of Business

Dr. Curran said the College of Business currently offers two insurance classes – Principles of Insurance and Property and Casualty Insurance Operations – as well as an internship program and an elective that together comprise the insurance minor.

In rolling out the new RMI degree program, the college will add three additional courses – covering life and health insurance and wealth management – and appoint two additional faculty members. Over time as the program’s popularity grows, more courses and faculty will be added, he said.

“It’s a big industry and an important industry that will provide significant opportunities in coming years, and I expect that this new program will be well-received by students looking for rewarding and challenging careers after graduation,” Dr. Curran said.

Dr. Ned Wilson, an adjunct faculty member and a former executive at FCCI Insurance Group in Lakewood Ranch, said business school graduates can sometimes overlook insurance as an option despite a variety of interesting positions in risk analysis, underwriting, finance, actuarial analysis, claims adjusting, accounting, loss control/prevention and management.

“It’s not just about sales,” he said. “The insurance industry needs bright young talent, and for students who want to stay local they now have an opportunity to pursue a career right here in this area. These are good, secure, well-paying jobs.”

USFSM graduates Derek Walton and Robby Hukill recently landed jobs as commercial lines underwriters at FCCI. They said the work involves critical thinking, financial analysis and attention to detail as they analyze businesses – from mom-and-pop retailers to large manufacturers – to determine the policies best suited for them.

“It’s a good career for someone who’s detail oriented, has critical-thinking skills and a thirst for knowledge and learning, and a wiliness to dig deeper to find extra answers,” Hukill said. “At the end of the day, you’re insuring a business that could lose millions of dollars, so it’s important to go that extra mile.”

Said Walton, who’s working toward an MBA at USFSM, “People don’t realize the insurance industry offers great opportunities. There are tons of different, challenging roles, and every day is different. It involves a lot of critical thinking and financial analysis. Anybody who likes that kind of work will thrive in this environment.”

To learn more about USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Business, visit

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