Lance Ewing understands that being willing to take risks often results in great rewards. That’s why he’s certain his most recent risk—an investment in the School of Business Administration—will pay off for generations of University of Mississippi students.
Ewing of Cordova, Tenn., is vice president for global insurance company AIG. With a gift to the University, he recently established the Lance J. Ewing Endowment for Business Excellence in Risk Management and Insurance to support student scholarships in the program.
“I hope long term that the scholarship will help open the eyes of non-risk management majors to see this field as an exciting, fun and highly vital vocation,” Ewing said. “Insurance and risk management may not always look glamorous on the outside but once a student enters the profession, very few leave because of the exposure they receive to so many facets of the business world.”
A former president of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Ewing has become an evangelist of sorts, traveling the across the country and around the globe to tout the profession’s benefits to colleges and universities.
“Providing insight and support to the universities and the students has been my way of giving back,” said Ewing, explaining that one such speaking engagement led him to Ole Miss. He was invited by former Robertson Chair of Insurance, Professor Larry Cox, to address students and shortly thereafter to join the Ole Miss Risk Management Advisory Board, on which he remains active today.
“We are fortunate to have crossed paths with Lance and we greatly appreciate his generosity, both of his time on the Board and of his gift to support our risk management and insurance students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business. “Seeing such an investment from someone who is not an Ole Miss alumnus speaks volumes for our program.”
The gift was simply a natural extension of his admiration for the program, Ewing said.
“Foundationally, the University of Mississippi Risk Management program is routinely in the top of class nationwide due to the hard work of the faculty and the support of Dean Cyree and the RMI alumni,” Ewing said. “Additionally, the program is innovative and creative. An example is the recent decision for the RMI program to re-join Gamma Iota Sigma, the world’s largest student fraternity for insurance and risk management majors. The program has always been about not resting on what it has accomplished but progressing toward what it will accomplish.
“Professors Andre Liebenberg [current holder of the Robertson Chair of Insurance] and Stephen Fier [holder of the Liberto-King Professorship in Insurance] embrace the notion of developing and improving the risk management curricula and providing real life experiences for the students. Both of the professors are leaders within and outside the risk management academic world. That caliber of professionalism transcends to the students as well,” Ewing said.
In the last five years, both Fier and Liebenberg have received the School of Business Administration’s teaching award and their co-authored research has received two best-paper awards from academic journals since 2013. Further, Liebenberg was recently honored with the American Risk and Insurance Association’s excellence in teaching award. Because of the strength of a risk management education gained through the UM program, AIG recently hired three students and have others on their radar. In fact, in the past five years more than 150 RMI graduates have been hired by insurance brokers and insurance companies in 21 states and an average of 30 students complete summer internships across the U.S. each summer.
“I am proud of our students and of our team that prepares them for career success,” Liebenberg said. “We are very deliberate in providing RMI students with a rigorous, relevant education and connecting them with potential employers through trips to local and national conferences, visits with regional industry practitioners, and, of course, through our two annual RMI career fairs. It is very rewarding when our students secure jobs with top companies.”
Liebenberg says that fundraising assistance from the advisory board and other industry professionals is critical to ensuring that the program continues to thrive. The 25-member Ole Miss Insurance Advisory Board helps facilitate an annual Ole Miss Insurance Symposium, which hosts more than 200 industry guests on campus and provides participants (including 100-plus students) the opportunity to learn from industry thought leaders like Ewing.
“Mr. Ewing is one of the most visible and active industry proponents for collegiate RMI education. He has spoken in classrooms across the U.S. and has been particularly active in our program as guest speaker, industry judge for student presentations, and as a valued Advisory Board member,” Liebenberg said. “My hope is that his scholarship will further increase the visibility and attractiveness of our major to top students in the business school.”
Ewing shares the same vision: “These programs were (and are) helping to shape future risk managers and insurance leaders. I hope this scholarship can foster and continue to help the University keep moving the risk management program forward. I also hope that other seasoned risk professionals will donate to demonstrate to the students that our profession invests in our future.”
Prior to his position at AIG, Ewing served in senior risk management capacities for Caesars Entertainment Inc. (Harrah’s), GES Exposition Services and for the City of Philadelphia School District.
He received his master's degree in law and justice from the University of Pittsburgh and completed his second master's degree in occupational safety engineering. In addition to his Associate in Risk Management (ARM) designation and his International Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designation, he has completed his Enterprise Risk Management Professional designation (ERMP).
Ewing was national president 2003-2004 for the Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS). He teaches risk management as a faculty member for the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research. He also served as a board member for the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) Board. He has a scholarship in his name (Lance J. Ewing Educational Scholarship) for the Certified Risk Management International designation.
Ewing was honored as the 2008 Risk Innovator of the Year and was the 2007 Risk Manager of the Year (Business Insurance). He has authored several articles on insurance, risk management, crisis management and workers' compensation. He is a frequent speaker on enterprise risk management, claims, disaster recovery and risk financing. He has spoken internationally to promote insurance and risk management in Croatia, Romania, Kosovo, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Australia, India, China and Japan.
“Mentoring or teaching or giving back in some way has always been part of my career trait and I hope this scholarship can provide that for future risk management and insurance students,” Ewing said.
Individuals and organizations can contribute to the Lance J. Ewing Endowment for Business Excellence in Risk Management and Insurance by mailing a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655 or online at www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information, contact Adam Lee, UM director of development for the School of Business Administration, at 662-915-1586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.