The Actuarial Science Program

After the resignation of Floyd Harper in 1946, the Department dropped the Actuarial Science program, a move not favored by the local insurance groups. The Nebraska Actuaries Club, which was organized in 1953, worked to have actuarial instruction restored at the University. The Club succeeded in 1956, in getting eighteen Nebraska insurance companies to agree to underwrite a position to be filled by an actuarial scientist. It was proposed that there be an association with mathematics, but beyond specifying that the Department act in an advisory capacity and that the position at least be in the College of Arts and Sciences, no details about the administrative setup were delineated. In a decision which in retrospect had some regrettable aspects, the mathematics faculty opposed the inclusion of the position within the Department. Nevertheless, the Department did become very actively involved in finding a suitable candidate. In 1957, the position was filled by Robert Larson, who had a Ph.D. in Economics with Actuarial Science as the major from the University of Wisconsin. In effect, he became a department of one and reported directly to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The program did develop and attracted a number of students from mathematics. Larson did not like the arrangement but would not considre any other kind of association which would have taken the program out of the College. Then, in spite of the apparent success he was having in attracting students, he resigned. The position was then filled by a former student, Stephen Kellison. Unlike Larson, Kellison like the independent setup and though the ties between the Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Science became stronger, he wanted no change in the administrative setup. Kellison, too, was quite successful in attracting students.

In 1975, Cecil Bykerk became the Director of the Actuarial Science (AS) Program and was followed in turn by Warren Luckner, Sam Cox, and the current Director Colin Ramsey. Enrollments in the AS Program continued to grow at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and in 1977 the AS Program staff expanded to two full-time faculty members, and in 1991 to three full-time faculty. In addition, employees at local insurance companies filled in as needed.

In 1962, an area program in AS, Economics and Mathematics leading to a masters degree was approved and is still active in the present time. Up until 1990, the AS Program and the Department of Mathematics worked quite closely together, especially at the graduate level. For one thing, each year the Department of Mathematics would appoint several actuarial science students as teaching assistants in mathematics and statistics. In addition, quite a large number of graduate students in mathematics and statistics took advantage of the availability of graduate courses in actuarial science to enhance their job opportunities; in fact, many ended up with a career in Actuarial Science.

The AS Program has always included a substantial mathematics and statistics component for its students, which has generated much of the demand for some upper level courses in mathematics and statistics.

On occasion, the AS Program teaches an upper level statistics course. Until 1987, there was no undergraduate major in Actuarial Science and so most actuarial students would major in mathematics. At the present time, undergraduate students can major in Actuarial Science in either the College of Arts and Sciences or in the College of Business Administration. In addition, in the 1990s, the administration of the AS Program was transferred to the College of Business Administration.