A Century of Risk Taking

A Department of Actuarial Science and Mathematics was created in 1937 simultaneously with the Department of Commerce. Dr. Lloyd A.H. Warren was its first Head, a position he would occupy until his retirement in 1949. Actuarial Science, however, was no stranger to the University of Manitoba. The first courses in the subject were introduced in September 1912 through the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy, a two-man enterprise consisting of Dr. Warren and the then Department Head, Dr. Neil Bruce MacLean. There is no evidence of a demand for the courses by the local business or insurance industries. It is as if MacLean and Warren were visionaries, saw the future, and took the initiative to introduce the courses. The initial offering was well subscribed.

 

In 1949, together with the Department of Commerce, actuarial science became a founding discipline in the newly created School of Commerce. With this alignment, it became one of the few actuarial programs in North America attached to a business school. (A degree in actuarial science would, however, also remain available through the Faculty of Arts and Science, as it was originally. This was initially an Arts degree. When Arts and Science split into two in 1970, it became a Science degree and still exists today.)

 

Actuarial science may have had a smooth start within the Commerce program, but the relationship would not always be copasetic. In the 1980s, Commerce was faced with serious budgetary problems, a trickle-down effect from what the University itself was experiencing. The continuation of the program within Commerce was threatened: too many resources required to service too few students, resources that could be better deployed elsewhere, or not at all, in order to balance the books. The industry and actuarial alumni generously came to the rescue, and raised sufficient funds to establish the Dr. L.A.H. Warren Chair in Actuarial Studies in 1986. This was the cornerstone of what became the Warren Centre for Actuarial Science and Research in 1993.

 

Since its formation almost two decades ago, the Centre has become a recognized and leading source of actuarial education in North America. It can point to alumni who have become captains of industry around the world, a growing enrolment, prize-winning students, and a much-honoured faculty and staff. The Centre itself has not gone unnoticed. It was christened a Centre of Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries in 2010 and, last year, was accredited by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries under its inaugural University Accreditation Program. In both cases, it is in rarefied company.

 

Lloyd Warren would be proud.

 

 

 A history of actuarial science at the U of M can be download here!