A Brief History
of the Western Risk and Insurance Association
The primary goals of the Western Risk and Insurance Association
are to promote education and research in the field of Risk Management
The Western Risk and Insurance Association officially
began on August 24, 1965 with an organizational meeting in San
Francisco. Irving Pfeffer was elected President, Robert C. Goshay
Vice President, and Oscar N. Serbein Secretary-Treasurer. The
first annual meeting of the new organization was held the following
year on August 26, 1966 at the University of California, Berkely.
The name used at the organizational meeting in
August, 1965 was the Western Association of the University Professors
of Insurance. By October, 1965, in a letter to prospective members,
the name had been shortened slightly to the Western Association
of Professors of Insurance. Before the end of the first year,
however, it had become the Western Association of Insurance Professors
(WAIP), a name which endured until the current name was adopted
on June 10, 1974.
The American Risk and Insurance Association acknowledged
the founding of WAIP with the following statement: "The Board
of Directors received notice of the organization of the Western
Association of Insurance Professors. The Board agreed to offer
it all possible assistance and expressed the hope that its activities
will generate articles to be submitted to The Journal of Risk
and Insurance." This appeared in the JRI, Vol. 32 (December
1965), p. 669.
Membership showed modest growth during the first
ten years, with about 22 members in 1966, 30 in 1969, 36 in 1972,
and 41 by 1976. It should be mentioned that initially there was
a rather stringent requirement for WAIP membership, namely that
one had to be a professor, had to teach at least one insurance
course each year, and had to be from a Western state, with Western
defined as no further east than Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, or
New Mexico. As current members accepted new teaching assignments
in other parts of the country, exceptions were made, and by about
1975 membership restrictions appeared to have been dropped altogether.
By the end of 1989, there were about 170 academic members in the
Meetings during the first ten years were scheduled
to coincide with those of larger, more established organization.
With a relatively small membership and with actual attendance
at meetings of about a dozen or so, it would have been difficult
to do otherwise. Thus, in six of the first ten years, the WAIP
meeting was held in conjunction with that of the Western Economics
Association (WEA). Another newly-formed group, the Western Finance
Association (WFA), founding in 1965, also followed this approach.
In 1970 and 1975, the WAIP meeting was held in conjunction with
that of the American Risk and Insurance Association, while in
1971 it coincided with that of the Insurance Information Institute.
Two items from the 1974 minutes would seem to
indicate that the need to broaden the membership base had become
apparent. In a momentous action, the organization adopted a new
name: Western Risk and Insurance Association (WRIA). The second
item was the following: "A motion was made, seconded, and
passed that the Association offer institutional membership to
persons in the insurance industry."
In 1975 the American Risk and Insurance Association
met in San Francisco, so it was natural for WRIA to meet in conjunction
with ARIA. However, minutes of the 1975 Business Meeting contained
the following item: "Considerable discussion concerning the
1976 meeting was generated. It was agreed that we should meet
in Las Vegas and that we should try for the Labor Day Weekend."
The decision to meet independently of other organization s had
this been made.
As it turned out, the 1976 meeting was in Las
Vegas, but on December 28-30, rather than over Labor Day Weekend.
It is, in fact, difficult to schedule meeting in Las Vegas over
major holidays, so whether by choice or by chance, WRIA settled
on a meeting time or year which has continued to be popular with
members. Moreover, the following excerpt from the Call for Papers
published by Secretary-Treasurer Tom Heflin shows that the original
restrictions on membership definitely were gone: "Invitations
are extended to those in industry, government, university students
and faculty whose teaching and research interests are related
to risk and insurance. Though the meeting has a regional focus,
interested persons from all geographical areas are invited to
attend and participate."
Another big step was taken at the 1976 meeting
when it was decided to publish a journal. In a memo to WRIA members
dated January 12, 1977, Journal Editor Lester Tenney wrote the
following: "At the last annual meeting of the WRIA in Las
Vegas on December 28, 1976, it was unanimously agreed that there
exists a need for a Journal of Insurance dealing with the more
operational approaches to insurance practices. With this idea
in mind, the WRIA passed a resolution authorizing the publication
of a Journal dedicated to applied insurance practices." Thus
was born The Journal of Insurance Issues and Practices, with the
first issue appearing in March, 1977, just three months after
being authorized. With the advent of the JIIP, that publication
became the official repository for WRIA records. Those interested
in WRIA events from 1977 to the present are encouraged to consult
past issues of the JIIP. By 1989 there were 235 Journal subscribers,
including 65 university libraries.
Included with this write-up is a list of Past
Presidents of WRIA, all of whom also held other offices
and served on the Board of Directors, some on several different
occasions. Among those who served as an officer or on the Board
of Directors during the first ten years but did not go on to become
President are the following: James L. Athearn, Leonard L. Berekson,
Irving M. Field, Mark R. Greene, David F. Hitchcock, Anthony Lauer,
Philip Mitchell, William A. Nye, L.E. Pease, Douglas Temple, and
James A. Wickman.
In closing I would especially like to thank Tom
Heflin and Oscar Servein, who made WRIA records available to me
which largely were the basis for this write-up. My thanks also
to Isklandar Hamwi, who encouraged me to finish this project and
who provided current information on membership[s and journal subscriptions.
I also either wrote or spoke to several other people during the
past five years concerning this project, including Irving Pfeffer,
Bob Goshay, Al Hofflander, Joe Launie, Les Strickler, and Les
Tenney. My thanks to them all.
Finally, even with all of the WRIA records that
I have been able to gather, there still are a few gaps and missing
pieces, so if I have omitted something important or failed to
acknowledge someone, or slighted some event or person, or inadvertently
misrepresented what actually happened, please accept my apologies.
Excerpted from Kenneth Pacholke (Journal of Insurance Issues,
Past President of the Western Risk and Insurance Association