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Barry Smith is first holder of insurance chair at New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University faculty member Barry Smith has been selected to hold the Mountain States Insurance Group Endowed Chair for the Study of Insurance and Financial Services.



Barry Smith has been selected as the first holder of the Mountain States Insurance Group Endowed Chair for the Study of Insurance and Financial Services at New Mexico State. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)


Garrey Carruthers, dean of the NMSU College of Business Administration and Economics, made the announcement today, March 18, during the 44th annual Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico Education Seminar at the Hilton in Albuquerque.

"Dr. Barry Smith is recognized nationally as a leader in insurance education and industry practices," Carruthers said. "He richly deserves to be the first insurance chair holder for he has had a very productive research and teaching career."

Smith has been a faculty member in the finance department since 1986 and most recently has been department head. He has lectured on various insurance topics in 32 states, and has authored three books and numerous articles on insurance and risk management.

Smith has been the editor of the CPCU Journal, a national journal for insurance professionals, since 1995, and earlier in his career was ranked as one of the top 10 academic researchers in the country in the field of risk management and insurance by the Journal of Risk and Insurance. In 2002 he was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award by the College of Business Administration and Economics.

"What's really wonderful is that this is the first chair for the college of business and that is what makes it very special as far as I'm concerned," Smith said. "I feel honored and humbled to be the first one in the college of business."

Smith received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Drake University and his master's degree and Ph.D. in risk and insurance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

"I'm delighted by his appointment," said Edward Lujan, chairman of the board of Manuel Lujan Agencies, a family insurance and real estate business. "I've known Barry for many years and he's a first class insurance professor. I sincerely believe that his appointment will make New Mexico State University a premier institution in the financial management field."

The endowment for the chair will be funded by a $1 million gift from Mountain States Insurance Group, an insurance industry leader headquartered in Albuquerque. The gift was announced in July 2003.

"We are very excited about Barry's appointment," said Jerry With, president of Mountain States. "We wish him continued success, and we are very thankful that he is there."

With the chair in place, the college will be able to provide an insurance and financial services program, and plans to establish an insurance center, an insurance scholarship endowment and a professorship.

Smith said there is a lot of demand from students and the industry for the program.

"My class is full this spring," he said. "And with those students who are in my class I hope to get at least eight to 10 of them into internships this summer, which is pretty good for the first year. These kids want jobs and they like the internship idea because it gives them firsthand experience while they are still college students."

Smith added that companies are "jumping at the chance" to have summer interns.

Next on the horizon will be to fund the Center for Insurance and Financial Services, which could take several years and $1 million. Smith said the college has received commitments from within the industry worth about $400,000.

"Getting the center in place will be important because that will help us with operational expenses such as internships, field trips, national certification exams and setting up a Web site," he said. "I hope we can be a job clearing center for the entire state."

In the future, the college hopes to fund a $225,000 professorship to provide additional support for the program, and work with the students and the industry.

In the insurance industry, Smith said, a lot of small agencies have owners who are close to retirement but don't have a younger person available to take over the business.

"It's called a perpetuation issue and it's a real problem out there in small communities were there are only one or two agencies," Smith said.

"The No. 1 goal here is to get students graduated through the program, get them introduced to the idea that there are opportunities out there and then keep those young people in the state to support the industry," he said.