Aug. 13, 2003 by Jeany Llorente NMSU News Center
Garrey Carruthers, dean of the College of Business Administration and Economics at New Mexico State University, announced today the establishment of the Mountain States Insurance Group Endowed Chair for the Study of Insurance and Financial Services at New Mexico State.
“My thanks to Mountain States Insurance Group for their commitment to excellence in insurance and finance education at New Mexico State University,” said Carruthers. “This assures our continued progress in becoming a center of excellence for insurance and finance education in the region.”
“We hope through establishing this program, which is really the only one in this geographical area, that we will be the source for labor in the insurance industry,” said Barry Smith, professor and department head of finance at NMSU. “We hope that for the state of New Mexico, it provides economic development.”
The endowment for the chair will be funded through a $1 million gift from Mountain States Insurance Group, an insurance industry leader headquartered in Albuquerque. The announcement was made during a dinner that followed the college’s first annual faculty/staff strategic directions conference at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum.
One of the problems insurance companies and agencies are facing today is the lack of qualified people, said Edward Lujan, chairman of the board of Manuel Lujan Agencies, a family insurance and real estate business with offices in Albuquerque, Belen and Taos.
“We have to start from scratch,” said Lujan, an NMSU graduate and a driving force in establishing the chair. “There isn’t any institution that is teaching our profession at a more intense level. We spend a lot of time and money training people, for some to decide it’s not the profession they like.”
Lujan said the establishment of the endowed chair will provide the insurance industry a place to recruit potential employees.
Jerry P. With, president of Mountain States Insurance Group, said he and others in the insurance industry have long recognized a need in this region for higher education programs specific to the industry.
“When I came to work for Mountain States in 1970, I had a background in accounting, but I didn’t know anything about insurance,” he said. “It took me quite a while to get my ‘formal education’ in the insurance business.”
New Mexico State officials believe the university is the perfect fit for the chair. The business college is the only college of business offering a series of insurance courses on a regular basis in the region, and is the largest college of business in the state with nearly 70 faculty and more than 2,200 students.
With the endowed chair in place, the college will be able to provide an insurance and financial services program, and hopefully establish an insurance center and an insurance scholarship endowment in the future, Smith said.
“The success of this chair, the first one in the college of business, is due in large part to the work of Dr. Jay Gogue (the university’s outgoing president), Edward Lujan and former Dean Danny Arnold over a year ago,” said Rebecca Dukes, vice president of university advancement.