Risky Business

Going above and beyond to give students an edge in risk management

Risk is inevitable. It’s how you recognize, prepare and respond to it which makes the difference between success and failure. The Center for Risk Management Education and Research (CRMER) at Kansas State University prepares students to succeed in a world filled with complex and interrelated risk.

CRMER addresses an important industry need — elevating students’ knowledge of integrated risk management before entering the workforce.

“I gained an awareness of the different types of risk,” said Claire Hilscher, 2014 graduate with a master’s in agricultural economics. “Because of my background in agricultural economics, I tended to focus on price and weather risk. There are so many less obvious risks that businesses face day-to-day. These include brand risk, credit risk, food safety risk, political risk, compliance risk and many more. We learned about the strategies that companies are using to mitigate and/or capitalize on these risks.”

Pillars of the multidisciplinary program are business finance, industrial manufacturing and systems engineering, and agricultural economics, but includes students from several other fields such as economics, mathematics, statistics, marketing and psychology. Students accepted as Student Fellows in the Risk Management Center complete a year-and-a-half program that includes both undergraduate and graduate students. Students attend lectures and workshops, engage with industry leaders about risk in their businesses, conduct a year-long research project in conjunction with a faculty mentor and industry sponsor, and travel to headquarters of national and global companies.

“Through CRMER, I’ve been exposed to all types of people. I’ve had the opportunity to do original research, which isn’t always available to undergraduates, but it’s a great way to grow,” said Kevin Cole, senior in finance from Vermilion, Ohio. “I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to visit government representatives and to visit industry leaders at their headquarters.”

While many universities have risk management courses, the way K-State has packaged its education through CRMER is unique. The program includes both undergraduate and graduate students; the center partners with and engages industry leaders; it’s multidisciplinary, crossing many departments and colleges; and it offers students risk management research projects and credential certifications.

“CRMER is one of the main reasons I chose to attend K-State for graduate school,” said Hilscher, who came to K-State after completing her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M. “This opportunity was unlike anything that any other school across the country had to offer, and the CRMER fellowship gave me an advantage in the job market.”

None of this would be possible without private support.

“Philanthropic resources helped us launch the program,” said Ted Schroeder, center director and professor of agricultural economics. “Philanthropy is essential for our program to be a center of excellence rather than just a center of activities, and it allows us to increase the scale and scope of the program.”

CRMER at a glance

  • 2012 class = 9 students
  • 2107 class = 34 students
  • Student requirements:
    • Minimum GPA of 3.5
    • Active on campus
    • Leadership capabilities
  • Advantages gained through CRMER:
    • Networking with executives
    • Leadership skils
    • Research capabilities
    • Analytical skills
    • Professional development
    • Certification (if desired)
  • Future additions to the program:
    • Competition teams
    • International experience

To support CRMER, you can make an online gift or contact Kim Schirer at 785-775-2090 or kims@ksufoundation.org.

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