A captive run in part by Butler University risk management students will include a policy endorsement for the university’s
bomb-sniffing dog Marcus.
Butler’s Risk Business
A university risk
establishes a student-
run captive; and in the
process succeeds in
By Dan Reynolds
Butler University’s Zach Finn possesses such a passion for risk management that steam practically emanates from the top of his head when he talks about it. So when the former J.M. Smucker Co. risk manager got the chance to work with a university risk management program, he jumped at the
chance to begin teaching and innovating.
And one of his dreams was to guide his students in developing a student-run
“One of the reasons I wanted to set up a student-run captive at Butler was to
show not only students what they could do with a risk management degree but
show the industry what students could do with a risk management degree,” said
Finn, the director of the Davey Risk Management & Insurance Program at Butler.
The program was launched with funding from 1947 Butler graduate William
Davey, who enjoyed a long career with the Indiana Department of Insurance,
including being appointed Insurance Commissioner in 1955.
The captive, which underwrites risks for Butler University’s liberal arts college,
came into being in April, is licensed in Bermuda, and will become operational this
But the direct roots of the program date back to 2015, when Finn sat down
with Michael M. Bill, the founder of MJ Insurance, to begin planning.
“I spent a lot of time in my career sitting down with people saying, ‘This is what
this means, this is how this could be a benefit to the organization,’ ” Finn said.
Finn built a class within Butler’s risk management curriculum charged with
putting together a feasibility study on the captive formation. He then hand-selected students from the risk management program to work on the study.
One recruit was Kentucky native Brad Weber, who was brought to Butler to
play football and is now a risk professional, having landed a job as a risk analyst
with the Moog Corporation after graduating from Butler’s risk management
program in May.
“Butler University as a whole is all about experiential learning and it sounded
like a great way to learn about insurance and not just from a textbook,” Weber said.
“Plus there was the opportunity to take a trip to whatever domicile was
selected,” Weber said.
“That ended up being Bermuda, which was a really cool trip.”
After the class wrote its feasibility study and vetted it with the captive program’s
professional advisory board, Finn and his students sent out inquiries to 10 domiciles.
“To their credit, Vermont and Bermuda were the only domiciles that
responded,” Finn said.
Akilah Wilson, an assistant director of the Bermuda Monetary Authority,
recalls her department being contacted by Butler University in September.
“Their original e-mail provided an
Insurance Captive Brochure which
outlined their initial proposal and
demonstrated their commitment to
establishing a captive. It was very well
constructed from the outset,” she said.
“From what I gathered during the
initial conversation, the students were
very independent in producing their
feasibility study on domiciles,” she said.
“They also led the first question and
“It was very clear from the
answer session. This demonstrated that
they were leading the charge, with the
help of their professors, of course.”
Don Ortegel, Aon Chicago
managing director and a member
of the school’s advisory board, also
recalls being impressed with the Butler
process that the students were
very engaged, very thoughtful.”
—Don Ortegel, Aon Chicago Managing Director
• Risk management students at
Butler University established the
first student-run captive in April in
• A policy endorsement being
developed by the Butler program
is aimed at fighting terrorism.
• Butler’s risk management
students and their professors
were instrumental in increasing
the insurance coverage on the
university’s telescope from $1
million to $2 million.