Alums Create Fund to Help Actuarial Students
CONTACT: Leslie Deslis
(850) 645-9544; email@example.com
Posted April 10, 2011
TALLAHASSEE—When he was an FSU undergraduate working toward a career in actuarial science, Courtney White spent at least $1,000 on textbooks and other materials to help prepare for a series of exams to be certified in his field.
Now, nearly two decades later and well established as an actuary, he has decided to help defray some of those costs for current FSU students.
To do that—and to honor one of his former professors—White and his wife, Shari, have made a gift of $25,000 to establish the Bettye Anne Case Scholarship in Actuarial Science.
“Courtney and Shari White have made a wonderful gift that recognizes Bettye Anne’s substantial contributions,” says Sam Huckaba, math professor and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We are very grateful for their generosity.”
White, a big supporter of the education he received from Case and her colleagues in the Department of Mathematics, is encouraging other alums with actuarial careers to pitch in to make the scholarship program even larger. “Please join me in honoring and thanking Dr. Case for starting the program that helped us all,” he says.
“Dr. Case began the actuarial program at FSU and became my advisor during my junior year,” White says. “I give her a lot of credit for creating and building a great program for students who excel in mathematics and for helping them start a career in a rewarding profession.”
Huckaba also gives Case a lot of credit. “Actuarial science at FSU would not exist if not for Bettye Anne Case,” Huckaba says. “She is a forward-thinking faculty member if there ever was one, and opportunity met preparation when she and Courtney crossed paths.”
Huckaba, who joined the FSU faculty in 1987, remembers White. “I have clear memories of Courtney White the student, who took a linear algebra course from me in 1991,” Huckaba says. “He was a good student who was interested in pursuing a career in the actuarial field, and we (led by Bettye Anne) had been discussing an expansion of our degree offerings in that direction.”
Case was surprised and thrilled when she learned about the gift. “I am honored that my name is associated with this gift to future students from Courtney and Shari,” Case says. “Before Sam sent Courtney to see me, my initial planning for an actuarial program was in the abstract. Courtney’s certainty about his goals and willingness to work hard on extra and difficult courses gave life to those abstract ideas so I could make the best curriculum choices for the program proposals.
“It was good to have Courtney in my trial class for our first actuarial course. Most of the students had completed none or few of the related collateral courses; Courtney would cite from an RMI [risk management/insurance] or stat or numerical class to show where what might seem dull was important, hence worth the effort.”
With a strong grounding in math, statistics and finance, actuaries analyze data to determine the risk that organizations might face if certain events occurred, such as accidents, diseases or natural disasters. For that reason, actuaries typically work in the insurance, financial, health care and government sectors.
However, entering the field can be difficult, as many companies expect new hires to have already passed at least one professional exam on their way to licensure. Not only are the tests difficult to pass, but they are expensive to prepare for, given that students generally spend hundreds of dollars in exam fees, textbooks and other study aids.
Appreciative of the success he has had in his own career, White wants to help ease that financial burden for some current FSU actuarial students.
“The undergraduate program at FSU taught me how to study and really helped me prepare for the first couple of actuarial exams,” says White, who is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a principal and consulting actuary with the Atlanta office of Milliman, an international actuarial and consulting firm. “It’s an honor to see fellow ’Noles at client and industry meetings as well as see their resumes come across my desk.”
White recalls his start in the field. “FSU didn’t have an actuarial program when I visited during my senior year of high school,” he says, “but I talked with the math department, and they assured me they could be flexible with my coursework to help me work toward my goal of being an actuary.
“While I would have preferred the risk management classes over physics,” he says jokingly, “it was too late to change my major. Dr. Case offered the first actuarial course (Actuarial Mathematics) in my senior year, so I was able to take the course and use it as an elective.”
White earned his degree in applied mathematics in 1992, around the same time that his wife received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music therapy from FSU.
“FSU is part of our family,” he says. “The kids could all sing the fight song and do the Warchant at a young age.” The Whites have four children: Melanie, 15; Dylan and Jenna, both 11; and Katie, 8.
By Bettye Anne Case
The undergraduate major in actuarial mathematics was approved at FSU in 1993, a year after Courtney White graduated. He was the test pilot for that new major and its later extension, the state’s first Program in Actuarial Science approved by the Board of Regents.
The actuarial credentialing societies quickly recognized that the program included their necessary elements for an advanced undergraduate degree — curriculum cooperation from business and statistics, advice from the industry, ethics and professionalism, exam preparation support .... Actuarial science became the department's most-enrolled undergraduate option. It is now coordinated by Steve Paris, who proudly announces at each annual Mathematics Honors Day the many students who have passed credentialing exams.
FSU math’s presence in actuarial science at the graduate level has been gaining ground, too. For a decade, Paris and I have advised graduate students in the financial mathematics M.S. who elect an actuarial concentration; currently, two of their Ph.D. students are writing actuarial-related dissertations. If you visit the website of the Society of Actuaries (SOA), you will see that FSU is now listed in SOA education classifications as both “Undergraduate—Advanced” and “Graduate—Education and Research.”
Gifts to the Bettye Anne Case Scholarship in Actuarial Science can be made online at foundation.fsu.edu or by mail to the FSU Foundation at 2010 Levy Ave., P.O. Box 3062739, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2739. Please include the fund number with your gift: F07531 (The Bettye Anne Case Scholarship in Actuarial Science).
Article courtesy of the Florida State University College of Arts & Sciences.