Michael  C. Jensen, professor, business consultant and author, speaks to students and faculty during an Arditti Center for Risk Management event. 

With its 10-year anniversary on the horizon, DePaul University’s Arditti Center for Risk Management is launching new initiatives to better engage students and industry members. The center was formed in 2006 to honor the legacy of the late Fred Arditti, a noted economist who worked at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and served on DePaul’s faculty as a finance professor for seven years.

“Arditti really believed in bridging the gap between academia and the industry,” says Alex Perry (THE ’03), who serves as the center’s coordinator. “He wanted students to be versed not just in theory, but also to possess strong practical skills and be lively participants in the risk management community.”

The center recently refined its mission to emphasize three pillars—education, research and practice—that reflect its namesake’s approach to risk management.

The growth of risk management has led the center and the Department of Finance to push for new degrees and classes that will better prepare students for the industry. These degrees are being reviewed now with hopes of launching this fall:

  • Master of Science in Enterprise Risk Management: This graduate degree will “provide students with the tools necessary to identify and manage the strategic, operational and financial risks facing a firm,” says Associate Professor Carl Luft, the center’s academic director.
  • Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science: This undergraduate degree, a partnership with the Department of Mathematics, will give students both the math foundation and the business background to succeed in risk management careers.
  • New courses:  Six courses currently form the risk management concentration, but more specialty courses will be needed to fulfill requirements for the upcoming degrees. Proposed class topics include principles of risk and insurance, risk management modeling and cases in risk management. Corporate governance, now only covered as a special topics class, will gain its own course number.

The center’s research agenda is expanding this year, too, with the launch of the Arditti Center Summer Research Grant Program, which rewards original research in the risk management field. Proposals are being accepted through Feb. 14, and two awardees will receive $15,000 each. “This grant is about trying to continue the Arditti legacy of innovative and practical research,” says Perry. Anyone—whether from DePaul or in the industry, in Chicago or worldwide—is welcome to submit a proposal. (Download the grant guidelines as a PDF.)

The center also is staying in touch with industry trends by promoting opportunities for students to connect with companies and for professionals to attend events at DePaul. The center has formed partnerships that are both student oriented (such as internships) and company oriented (such as advisory boards or events). In addition, the center has forged ties to industry groups, including the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association and the Global Association of Risk Professionals.

The center sponsors periodic events and is launching a monthly seminar series that will feature guest speakers covering a wide spectrum of risk management topics. See full event listings on the center’s website.

In partnership with DePaul’s Center for Financial Services, the Arditti Center launched DePaul Finance Forum last year. “The blog was started to give our board members and faculty members an outlet to discuss current events through the lens of finance or risk management,” Perry says.

Looking Ahead

The center has been making changes because now is a popular time to be considering a career in risk management. “In the wake of the financial crisis, interest and concern over risk management is at an all-time high,” Luft explains. “Traditional areas of financial risk management are being re-evaluated and given new importance not only through regulation and internal company strategies, but also through a wider societal unease.”

The center’s executive team is looking forward to 2016, the 10th anniversary of the center, and brainstorming ways to celebrate the milestone. Perry describes plans for two smaller dinners in 2015 to recognize industry professionals for their contributions to the field and a larger gala dinner in 2016.

“We’re just excited and feel re-invigorated,” Perry says. “There’s a lot going on, and I think in the end it will be really good for our students and for the university.”