UI’s risk management and insurance program partners with health insurer Wellmark

A new partnership that will enhance student learning in the Tippie College of Business’s Vaughan Insitute for Risk Management program has taken shape. 

Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will provide students with experiential learning opportunities and allow students of all majors to gain valuable experience.

The partnership that started this month comes after the risk management program became new a major in fall 2023, for a total of 184 majors and 50 certificates at the UI, academic clinical program management specialist Camille Bonar said.

Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is a health insurance company based in Des Moines that served the majority of Iowa residents.

The Vaughan Institute is a part of the Tippie College of Business and specializes in risk and risk management.

Jim Lewis, executive director of the Vaughan Institute, said students in the program will conduct interesting projects, such as what the future looks like using artificial intelligence and insurer tech innovations.

“It is really an understanding of the study of risk and how to transfer some of that risk to either insurable products,” Lewis said. “It’s going to help [students] so much for just becoming aware of what is going on. We want to give these students experiences to get them career-ready.”

Lewis said this new partnership has helped create a pipeline between the health insurance industry and the risk management program at the university.

“They saw the value in us, and they know that it is an investment,” Lewis said. “They are investing in our ability to execute on the strategies that they are aligned with.”

Lewis said the current plan is to have Wellmark visit the UI campus and help explain what the projects are about.

“We want to look at what would be of interest to them and become a more strategic partner,” Lewis said.

Collaborative innovation, or the building of an ecosystem that is aligned with both Wellmark and the Vaughan Institute’s ideas, is a major part of this partnership.

Wellmark is also helping the university gain access to cutting-edge technology, such as creating an AI lab soon.

“We could give these students real work experiences and show them how to apply it through methodology,” Lewis said.

Bonar said the Vaughan Institute currently has four full-time faculty members, whereas previously it only had two. Students who wish to earn their certificate in risk management will need to take five classes through the program, a change that will be implemented in the fall of 2024.

Bonar said those classes include a one-credit seminar, an introductory principles course, and three electives of the student’s choosing.

Wellmark Director of Communications Kassi Hoxmeier said Wellmark has previously helped aid in the professional preparation and development of students at the UI.

Wellmark leadership is actively engaged with the Tippie College of Business via service to help assist in the institute’s strategies,” Hoxmeier said.

Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will also assist students at Tippie’s Spring 2024 Finance and Risk Management and Insurance Career Fair on Feb. 20.

Additionally, Wellmark handed out 44 scholarships last week to risk management students, totaling roughly $30,000 in scholarships.

“This helps everyone, and I want people to know that this isn’t just for Tippie College of Business students,” Lewis said. “It is open to everybody, and any student can join regardless of their major or their year.”

You may also like...