Jeffrey Boles, chair of the Department of Risk, Actuarial Science and Legal Studies, shares how this new department offers a unique opportunity for a 360-degree perspective of business.
Recently, the Departments of Legal Studies and Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management came together to form the Department of Risk, Actuarial Science and Legal Studies. Positioning itself at the intersection of risk management and legal studies, the Fox School’s newly formed department prepares students to pursue careers in the complicated and ever-changing field of regulations that impact industries of various kinds. The department offers degrees in Risk Management and Insurance, Actuarial Science, Legal Studies and Healthcare Administration, for both undergraduate and postgraduate learning paths.
Jeffrey Boles is an associate professor of legal studies at the Fox School of Business and chair of the department. We caught up with Professor Boles about his priorities for the new department and how this new structure could impact both current and future members of the Temple community.
Q: Can you introduce yourself and give a little background on your research interests and experience?
A: I am a proud graduate of Temple University; I earned my undergraduate degree here in 2000. I earned my PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and my JD from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Before joining the Fox School, I practiced law at a global firm litigating cases and counseling clients in a variety of legal matters.
I now wear a few different hats at Temple. I am an associate professor who researches legal and ethical issues surrounding corporate governance, white-collar criminal behavior and corporate compliance initiatives. I currently serve on the editorial board of the American Business Law Journal and coordinate the Fox School’s Financial Literacy Program in connection with the Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) Program (also known as Reentry Court). I have been leading this Fox program for many years, where I coordinate the program with our students who serve as financial literacy educators.
Q: What is the throughline that connects the department’s various specializations?
A: Risk is the real-world concern that knits the department together. Concern about risk is realistically at the core of the business enterprise. Our focus on risk is what uniquely sets our new department apart from others. Risk links together our programs—Risk Management, Actuarial Science, Legal Studies and Healthcare Management—in interconnected ways.
Risk Management studies the process of handling risk and managing uncertainty. It involves the systematic identification of exposures to loss, selection among various alternatives to manage or finance losses, and implementation of those decisions. It analyzes the evolving nature of risk and risk management and how these concepts impact firms and individuals. Through qualitative and quantitative analysis, our students apply the tools and techniques of risk management to examine how risk impacts different areas of the business enterprise and how to manage those risks.
Actuarial science measures potential financial risks using complex statistical analysis. It examines methods to avoid or reduce the impact of undesirable events (such as financial risk) after determining the probability of those events, and it evaluates financial risks and insurance across an array of industries. We train our students for the process of designing and pricing products that financially transfer risk (products include retirement plans, life insurance, health insurance, automobile insurance, property and liability insurance).
Legal Studies explores relationships between law, business and policy and examines how legal and ethical principles guide the decisions of business managers. It focuses on the ways in which organizations may mitigate the legal risk of violating federal, state or local law through effective compliance procedures and operations. Essentially, all business law disciplines, from employment law to white-collar criminal law, reflect a degree of legal risk for non-compliant companies.
Finally, our Healthcare Management program focuses on the management of healthcare risks, designing systems to improve the quality of care, responding to the special financing and marketing challenges in the healthcare environment and developing integrated delivery systems. It analyzes the structure, workings, delivery and outcomes of health sector systems.
Q: Can you speak to how the transition is going?
A: It is a privilege to serve as the chair of the Department of Risk, Actuarial Science and Legal Studies, and I am very happy to say that we have experienced a smooth yet energizing transition. We are making major contributions to the Fox School and to Temple University, with each of our four programs contributing in its own way.
To name two examples: our Risk Management and Actuarial Science programs are nationally recognized centers of excellence, and we are also home to one of the largest student professional organizations on campus, the Sigma chapter of Gamma Iota Sigma, which does phenomenal work in the student co-curricular space. Across all programs, we have award-winning faculty contributing to our programs and by extension, to the new department, and all of our contributions link together.
Q: How will the new department support students’ academic and professional aspirations?
A: We’re working with students to develop career plans and explore professional pathways from a lifetime learning perspective. Accordingly, we challenge students to develop the habits, skills and network they will need for a successful, sustainable career. We offer a host of online and in-person services to support students with their academic goals, professional development opportunities, and industry and career interests and explorations.
Our four programs also offer a broad range of experiential learning opportunities for every student, where our students work on real-world problems while gaining valuable skill development in the process. We offer a host of co-curricular programs and events that take place outside the classroom. This semester, we’ve run intern career receptions for students seeking internships, career development case studies and competitions for students to experience real-life professional work scenarios as well as distinguished guest speaker lectures from top professionals and industry leaders. Our goal is to help foster the development of well-prepared, well-rounded students with practical skills, so that they are well-positioned for professional success after graduation.
Q: As the chair of the new department, what are you most excited about in the future?
A: I am most excited for my department to set the standard of excellence at the Fox School going forward. We have the special ability to provide students with a 360-degree view of the firm from an interdisciplinary perspective, where we draw connections and link the curriculum with other academic programs. We are uniquely positioned to develop students’ quantitative and qualitative reasoning while fostering their oral and written communication skills. Our deep connections with industry partners deliver internships, job opportunities and professional development enhancements to our students.