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Smeal Launches New Risk Management Department, Major

Risk management. It keeps CEOs up at night. It’s the one area where corporate boards wish they spent more time. And it’s the newest major at Penn State.
October 14, 2011

Risk management. It keeps CEOs up at night. It’s the one area where corporate boards wish they spent more time (according to a recent survey by BDO). And it’s the newest major at Penn State.

Starting this fall, the Smeal College of Business is offering a new major, the bachelor of science in Risk Management, which will be housed in the restructured Department of Risk Management and have three concentration options: actuarial science, enterprise risk management, and real estate.

The new Department of Risk Management represents a restructuring of the former Department of Insurance and Real Estate and is chaired by Austin Jaffe, Sieg Professor of Business Administration. The research and disciplinary focus of the department is on risk assessment, mitigation and management, connecting disciplines such as actuarial science, business law, decision analysis, insurance, international business, and real estate. The restructuring will allow the college’s faculty to better meet the needs of current and future students who are interested in risk analysis in this variety of disciplines.

“The new Department of Risk Management and its associated major reflect our greater efforts to move Smeal forward as one of the top business schools in the country,” said James B. Thomas, the John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal. “Programs like this one are the future of business education. This change allows our students and faculty to break out of the traditional disciplinary silos to study risk management from an integrative perspective that reflects how business is actually conducted.”

All students in the Risk Management major will enroll in a new course entitled Risk and Decisions, a rigorous decision analysis course that will build a foundation in risk management for the various advanced courses which follow. The three areas of concentration within the major allow students to fine-tune their personal educational experience with courses offered in the Department of Risk Management and throughout the University, including in architectural engineering, finance, international business, landscape architecture, mathematics, statistics, and urban economics, among others.

The Actuarial Science option stresses the application of mathematical and statistical concepts to the measurement of risk contingencies while giving students a broad understanding of the business environment. The Enterprise Risk Management option prepares students to identify, quantify and qualify the regulatory, legal, financial, and contractual aspects of enterprise risk to manage and control risk exposure within organizations. Students who select the Real Estate option have a wide range of opportunities in appraisal, banking, corporate real estate management, development, government service, mortgage lending, and real estate brokerage.

In addition to housing the new Risk Management major, the Department of Risk Management is also home to numerous other units. The International Business and Legal Environment of Business minors both reside in the department. It houses two research centers: the Institute for Real Estate Studies, which is the physical presence for all real estate research and education at Penn State, and the Laboratory for Economics Management and Auctions, which provides researchers in economics and management with a venue to conduct studies in a controlled environment. The Risk Management Department is also home to the Smeal Office of International Programs, which coordinates study abroad activities for about 400 Smeal students and faculty annually.

For more information on the new Risk Management major or Smeal’s Department of Risk Management, visit www.smeal.psu.edu/rm.

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