Dear Huebner Fellows and Friends,
The Huebner Foundation is wrapping up its programming for 2018, and looking forward to a number of programs in 2019 to support doctoral education in the areas of risk and insurance.
The 2019 Colloquium will once again be held in August in conjunction with the ARIA annual meeting, this year in San Francisco. The colloquium gives doctoral students the opportunity to present their research in a small group setting. Participating academics include editors of leading journals, prominent researchers, and former Huebner Fellows. We will announce the application date for the colloquium in the spring.
The 2019 Summer Risk Institute, co-sponsored by the Huebner Foundation and Georgia State University's Center for the Economic Analysis of Risk (CEAR) will take place on July 25 and 26. The institute's keynote speakers will be Robert T. Jensen (Yale) and Christopher B. Barrett (Cornell). We will also have a research talk by Glenn Harrison (GSU). Themes include index insurance, development resilience, and the consequences of income volatility on human capital accumulation."
We received news from the Huebner community that Milly Brill recently passed away. Ms. Brill served as Administrative Assistant for the Huebner Foundation for decades and was much beloved by generations of Huebner Fellows. She had a full, rich life and touched the lives of many others, as her obituary (link) indicates.
This month, in a special edition of our Huebner Fellow profile series, Huebner Foundation board member Dr. Bill Rabel graciously shared with us thoughts on his time as a Huebner Fellow and life's work in this field. To support the next generation of doctoral students in risk management and insurance following in Dr. Rabel's footsteps, please consider a tax deductible donation to the Huebner Foundation. You can donate through the website (click here) or by mailing a check to:
S.S. Huebner Foundation
Attn: Stephen Shore
J. Mack Robinson College of Business
11th Floor, Office 1144
35 Broad Street
Atlanta, GA 30303
Bill Rabel is one of the Huebner Foundation’s oldest grads. He also has had one of the most varied careers of any Fellow. Below he tells his story in the first person.
I graduated from Texas A&M in 1963 with a BBA in Insurance. I had planned to join my Dad as an independent insurance adjuster in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. However, during my junior year my insurance teacher, Henry Lyles, encouraged me to apply for a Ph.D. program so that I could teach. I was lucky enough to be accepted at Harvard, Wisconsin and Penn but the advantages of the Foundation tipped the scales and it was to Penn that I ended up going.
One of the most engaging luncheons I have ever had was my interview with Dan and Elaine McGill at the Love Field Airport in Dallas, and I was very pleased to receive a letter awarding me the scholarship. In those days, first year fellows who had no Master’s degree received a monthly stipend of only $200 instead of the $300 that was provided for those who had earned a Masters. For a poor kid from south Texas, it was the most money I’d ever had in my life.
My time in Philly was one of the most important periods of my life. Not only did I love Penn but I also loved the city and its many cultures. Bob Eilers, associate director of the foundation at the time, knew a hayseed when he saw one. He recommended that I take advantage of Philadelphia’s many cultural opportunities and as a first exposure recommended a trip to the Barnes Foundation. Seeing the Barnes collection truly transformed my life; throughout my three years at the Foundation, either I was a monk in my cell, studying, or taking a break at some concert or other cultural activity. I didn’t have a lot of social life.
Huebner Fellows were a close knit group in those days and different in many ways from subsequent generations. We all wore coats and ties when we were on campus. In addition, there was good camaraderie among and within classes. A special treat was the Christmas party, hosted by Dr. and Mrs. McGill. Dean Willis Winn and his wife were always there, which gives some idea about the importance of the foundation in Wharton.
Out of three Fellows in my class, I was the only one to earn my Ph.D. and teach. Normally a class would have four fellows but, as Steve Forbes (a year behind me) often said, “1963 was a very lean year.” It’s tempting to name all the good friends from those times, such as Jerry Rosenbloom, Darwin Close, and Bob Marshall (later my brother-in-law), but doing so would take too much space. Suffice it to say, we were all scared as hell and aware of the possibility that we would emerge ABD. During those years, Penn had a reputation for that.
My first academic appointment was at Syracuse University in 1966. Having gone first to a military school and then to an urban institution, I wanted to see what life was like in a “traditional” college. Suffice it to say that all was grand and I loved my years there. A large part of the students was from New York City, which has a loquacious culture. The classroom was always full of energy and interesting discussion. I still keep up with some of my students from that era and we are able to visit occasionally. It was truly a special time for me.
My wife of 51 years, the former Judi Vananzi of Abington, PA, found Syracuse too overcast for her tastes or we probably would be there today. However, I cast about for an opportunity to return to Philly and it came in the form of a job at the American College of Life Underwriters. Founded by Dr. Huebner in 1924, the college provided the CLU credential for, and enjoyed enormous prestige in, the life insurance industry. Dave Gregg (in the first class of Huebner Fellows) was president and had done a marvelous job of moving the institution from Dr. Huebner’s brief case to a 20 or so acre campus in Bryn Mawr. His heir apparent, Vane Lucas (one Huebner class ahead of me, and a friend) hired me in.
After two years, in 1973, I quit the College to join the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva, Switzerland. It was an interesting experience, and took me to several countries in Africa and Latin America. I had the good fortune to participate in the first meetings of insurance commissioners in those regions, both of which resulted in the formation of regional associations. One of my acquaintances, the Ugandan insurance commissioner, also ran the state-owned monopoly insurer. His job was to collect premium dollars, avoid claims, and remit funds to the notorious dictator, Idi Amin. Since the CEO/Commissioner regulated himself, there was little cause for worry as long as he stayed on President Amin’s good side. While at UNCTAD I also wrote a study on Insurance Education for Developing Countries which made me many friends around the world and set the stage for future consulting and speaking.
However, the UN is not a place for someone who really wants to make things happen so in 1975 I accepted an offer from the College to return as dean of the newly formed S. S. Huebner School of CLU Studies. There I worked for three years, enjoying Philly and finding time to take a class on art appreciation from Ms. Violet De Mazia at the Barnes Foundation. Then, as luck would have it, John Hall of Georgia State (a Huebner Fellow) recommended me to Lynn Merritt, LOMA’s president, who was looking for a Ph.D. in Insurance to head LOMA’s FLMI and other credentialing programs.
I joined LOMA in 1978 and moving to Atlanta was somewhat daunting. There had been a lot of bad publicity about Atlanta public schools and we are public school people. However, after Judi visited five Atlanta schools she found two that were doing pretty much the same thing that our kids were doing in Radnor, one of the 250 school districts in the country to claim membership in the top ten. We bought a house there and I had an interesting 27-year career as head of LOMA’s E&T Division. LOMA is a blast to work at because we were constantly interacting with industry people through different committees. It is amazing how generous they are with their time, working after hours on textbooks, exams, and other projects to benefit the industry.
After retiring from LOMA in 2008, I started looking very hard for a place to teach. Over the years, I had tried to keep involved in the academic world as much as possible, serving on ARIA’s board and going through the chairs at the Asia-Pacific Risk & Insurance Assn. Interestingly (at least to me) I believe I hold the record of having attended the most ARIA meetings of any member. My first meeting was, I believe, in 1965 and I have missed only two or three since then.
John Bickley (not a Huebner Fellow but one of the three most entrepreneurial insurance professors ever) had taught at Alabama twice. He retired in 1985 and in the early part of the 21st Century started soliciting funding from among his many friends worldwide to create the John & Mary Louise Loftis Bickley Endowed Teaching Chair in Insurance & Financial Services. I threw my hat into the ring and was chosen as the first incumbent.
Judi and I moved to Tuscaloosa in 2007 and have loved everything about the experience. The campus is drop-dead gorgeous and the students are very good. We live within a fifteen-minute walk of campus in an old, shade-lined neighborhood, just as we had done in Syracuse. However, instead of living in a third floor garrett we have the whole house. When asked what my plans are, I tell friends that I’m leaving when they carry me out in a pine box. Hopefully, that won’t be for a while yet.
For additional information about Bill, especially his professional activities, please visit his UA webpage: https://culverhouse.ua.edu/directory/profile/wrabel . Before doing so, however, be aware that Judi does not approve of the photo and thinks it makes him look far too old.
Finally, we are always working to connect our Huebner community and build a stronger alumni network. If you would like to network with past Huebner fellows, academics and industry professionals interested in supporting doctoral education in risk and insurance management, please connect with us on LinkedIn. We have a foundation page that you can find here. I look forward to networking with more members of the Huebner Foundation community through this channel.
Stephen H. Shore
Executive Director, S. S. Huebner Foundation
R. Means Davis Professor of Risk Management and Insurance
Robinson College of Business; Georgia State University