Guest host and URMIA Executive Director catches up on updates on URMIA projects, grabs words of wisdom, and hears the gratitude guest Gary Langsdale has for the professionals he met along the way. Retirement is recess for grown-ups after all and Gary is ringing the bell again. We share a sincere thank you to Gary for all he's done for URMIA on this URMIA Matters episode.
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Thanks for listening to URMIA Matters!
Jenny Whittington- Executive Director, URMIA
[00:00:00] Jenny Whittington: Hey there. Thanks for tuning in to URMIA Matters, a podcast about higher education, risk management, and insurance. Let's get to it.
Hello, URMIA. This is Jenny Wittington, your executive director, and I'm here again to be host of URMIA Matters, and I have a wonderful guest with me today. Kind of a short timer. Um, we have the wonderful Gary Langdale with us.
Gary, say hello.
[00:00:30] Gary Langsdale: Well, hello Jenny and hello everybody.
[00:00:32] Jenny Whittington: So for those of you listening, you may have already heard the news that Gary is retiring quickly by the end of the year in his role is URMIA's education manager, that he is served for about the last two years. No, almost three years, right?
Three years. Yeah. That pandemic kind of, you know, messed up my timing. Um, yeah, so Gary had retired from Pennsylvania State University and then he came to work for URMIA as our education manager and we've been so, so happy to have him be, stay involved and, and it's been terrific. So our goal today is just to get some thoughts from Gary before he sails off into the retirement sunset. So, Gary, let's talk first about the, the projects you're, you're wrapping up right now. I know you, you've been doing a series of round tables, you're working on an update to the ERM white paper. Um, the core competencies, so why don't you just give us a little update on the Oh, open projects that you're trying to close.
Gary Langsdale: Oh, well that's it.
Jenny Whittington: So I think people need to know a little more than that.
[00:01:43] Gary Langsdale: Oh, okay. All right. Well, we are trying to wrap up a couple of things. The first, I'll start with the E R M. white paper. An E R M specific white paper. There is a white paper in the uh, library, but it was written in 2007 and there are only one or two of us.
Jenny Whittington: I remember it well.
Gary Langsdale: There are only one or two of us who are still around, that version. So what we're doing is we're creating something that's going to be a little more dynamic. Instead of a white paper, there will be a white paper at the core of it, but we're calling it an ERM Resource. Because it's gonna be more, and it'll point people to more things, more places to look, more materials.
And as things change, it will of course be able to be updated as we go forward. So, so we've got that coming and that's going to be, uh, Spring release. I'm gonna hang around and finish that off. Um, so the poor Sue, who's taken my place, won't be coming into the middle of the movie to try and, and work on that
Um, we're also, so, so that's coming in the spring. Coming very, very, very soon is the core competencies update. Um, we are working hard with a task force of eight or 10 people, eight or 10 volunteers from URMIA who are working on updating the core competencies document, which was actually, uh, gosh, time flies. It's been five years since that was published. So we're, we're updating that and we will have that ready right at the beginning of January, I think. I've got a printed out version of it on my desk right now because I'm from an age where I've got to print it out and read it if it's more than one page long.
Jenny Whittington: Me too.
Gary Langsdale: So we're, we are finalizing that, Rachel, the learning specialist from URMIA has been helping me a lot with that. So we expect to have that plus or minus at the end of the year, maybe a couple of days into the new.
[00:03:48] Jenny Whittington: Gary, wait one second. On the core competencies, what are, what is, what are some of the changes that are gonna be in the document?
[00:03:56] Gary Langsdale: Well, some of it is continuing the threads that we've had, but adding more. So, for example, the first one that comes to my mind is Core Competency four, which is organizational engagement. And we had a list of maybe10 or a dozen different groups within a university that the risk manager should be interfacing with. Well, there are a lot more than that. The job of the risk manager is to be everywhere on campus, and so we are adding more suggestions for particularly those who are starting out to make sure they get to all four corners of the institution.
But we're also, um, a, a suggestion that we had very recently was to change the title of each of the competencies from being a competency to a set of competencies. So the first one is your technical skills. Well, there're a. Of competencies within that group. Um, strategic management, we have a set of competencies there, so, so that's what we're doing. Some of that may sound just like, you know, nomenclature, but it's important to set the stage so that everyone can, can feel more comfortable using it.
Jenny Whittington: So that's awesome. Thank you.
Gary Langsdale: That's, that's finishing up. We also have several peer reviews in the pipeline right now, which has been very successful where we've done it. We haven't, we've only done one or two a year for the last several years, but every place we've done that, the institution who requested a peer review has been delighted with the work that the URMIA volunteers have put into the peer review. So we're working on one, we're in the middle of one right now, and we have several other schools that have expressed interest. And so we want to finish, get those done. And Jenny, I will stick around and help with those couple so that Sue gets a good grounding, she will participate and, and so that she gets a good grounding and take and take that work on, on her own once she transitions into being the education manager.
So, that's kind of what we've been working on to finish up. The work of providing educational information and webinars never ends. And so we've got several in the pipeline, the education team, which includes Michelle Smith, who is the, who is the senior events director, and, um, Rachel Kuper, the learning specialist, and Sue Liden, who is transitioning into my position and I get together once a week and talk about “What are we gonna do next for our members?” So that's work, continues a pace, and Sue is well positioned to take
[00:06:42] Jenny Whittington: that on. Well, I just wanna commend you for all the good work on these projects and everything else really that you've done for URMIA over your employment years. Um, it's really been such a benefit to the whole URMIA membership to have you on board, Gary. So I just wanted to, to thank you on the podcast on behalf of the board and all the members and the rest of the staff that it's just been our pleasure to have you along and, and we do hope that you stay close by.
In, in your retirement. So why don't we switch to that? Okay. And talk about reflections on your career. What, what do you have there?
[00:07:20] Gary Langsdale: W Well, if, if I can't, I can't go on without talking about URMIA. URMIA has just been a wonderful experience. When I came to higher ed, I had already spent 25 or 30 years in risk management, mostly in the forest products industry and there you couldn't have a meeting with two or more risk manager without Antitrust council being present because the industry was concerned about the potential, not that the risk managers were going to move the market for pulp and logs, but that their pricing information discussed just, just like our URMIA members talk about how, you know, what are the insurance premium rates doing? Um, you weren't allowed to talk about that with other risk managers because of the potential for antitrust. So to be in, to come to higher ed and experience URMIA was such a game changer where everybody was willing and happy to give advice and talk about what's going on and compare problems and, and opportunities. And so this has just been a wonderful experience for me both as a risk manager and it's been just plain fun being the education manager who knew that, that people that earlier would pay me to answer our members' questions. So thank, thank you for, for that opportunity.
I think that over my career, boy, have things changed. And I don't mean because of the pandemic. I think that the profession has gone so dramatically more diverse, grown, more professional, the expectations are higher. The seat at the table is easier to get. The leaders recognize the value of a good risk manager.
So it's been fun to see that happen. I, I've joked with you, Jenny, about that picture that we have of the first URMIA meeting at that happened at Penn State was a bunch of fat bald white guys in the same, certain tie. They all had the same white shirt and black tie and, but now, goodness gracious, how much more diverse is our membership? And that's just a wonderful thing. I learn from people with different perspectives.
The other thing that changed is that risk managers have been encouraged to, and have found alternative risk techniques, ways of dealing with risk, whether it's alternative financing mechanisms like a captive insurance company where the, the company, the institution, builds up its own capital to manage its risk. In the after the recent unpleasantness that my former institution faced, we used our captive to deal with it. We had been using the captive for general liability claims, and by gosh it worked. The system worked not without a lot of consternation, but overall the captive paid its claims, fulfilled, its financial obligations, and, and was a great tool for the institution.
The other thing that I've seen is the educational opportunities, the, the resources that URMIA makes available. And this isn't a sales pitch for URMIA just because I've been doing this, it has been amazing and I learned stuff. When I found the resource guide, it was like, oh my gosh. I can use all of this material. There is a lot out there that was never available when I achieved my ARM certification. It was by the book and it was very different than all the materials that are available today.
So I'm just thrilled with the professionalization of our industry and the fact that over the last number of years people have been able to see, the leaders have been able to see, that the risk manager is not just buying insurance. So all that has changed.
Jenny Whittington: Yes.
Gary Langsdale: Since I started out as at the Equitable Gas Company in 1984 as a risk manager in risk management.
[00:11:33] Jenny Whittington: Wow. I mean, just some comments…
[00:11:33] Gary Langsdale: And that was after six years working in the insurance industry, I started in, in the mid seventies, straight outta college working as in claims as an insurance comp, uh, for an insurance company and gosh, was that an education? It taught me to read insurance policies and understand what was there.
[00:11:52] Jenny Whittington: That's a good foundation. I, you know, so many of our members start their careers in the insurance, Industry and kind of get that foundational piece. Um, so you touched on a few things. I just wanted to comment on. I mean, first of all, just the camaraderie of our members and the way they share things with each other. I mean, that's been just the hallmark of, of URMIA to me in general. I came from a trade association background where they were fierce competitors. And, you know, sharing just wasn't, wasn't the culture there. So I have just loved that about URMIA members that, you know, you can pick up the phone and, and people are willing and want to share their, their policies and procedures with you. So I, I think that has made URMIA a very special place and. You were a big part of that, and you putting on the education manager role and having conversations and giving folks advice has just been so phenomenal for our members.
And again, just circling back to thank you for your time and your grace and your sense of humor, which has really helped get me and the rest of the URMIA staff through this darn, um, pandemic that. You know, it's still lingering a bit. Uh, and we've, we've come a long way. And you're absolutely right that we, I mean, the education team that you mentioned has done a, just a really awesome job bringing program after program after program when you started with URMIA, um, at the beginning of 2020 I mean, we were rolling out. You know, one program a month online, maybe, you know, just the urgency wasn't there and then, then, you know, the world changed. I mean, now it's, it's not uncommon to have one program a week, sometimes more. So. I know one thing you, you did recently was facilitated or were part of some of the round table discussions that we had. Was there anything interesting held at, at those conversations over the last couple weeks?
[00:13:50] Gary Langsdale: Well, I was, I was, stuck by the variety of topics that people wanted to talk about. And I was struck by how willing people were to talk. Sometimes with, with online conversations, with Zoom or whatever the mechanism is, it's hard to get people to open up a little bit.
But in all of the institutional roundtables that we just. Gosh, there were, there were people who had questions that they wanted to ask and they were happy and other people were happy to engage and answer those questions and talk about their own experiences. So I was real pleased with that.
One of the hallmarks that, that I've kept in mind is you haven't seen it all, just when you think you've seen it all. There's another surprise coming around the bend and there were a number of topics that I thought to myself, gee, didn't think of that. um, and, and that's coincidentally why I retired from Penn State was because it was getting harder to gee didn't think of that. And I think it was time for somebody with a fresh air perspective,
But I was just thrilled with the round table discussions because they all went the distance. and, and the facilitators didn't have to do a lot. People came with their topics and their questions, and I think we just ought to continue that conversation as we go forward.
[00:15:17] Jenny Whittington: Definitely. I mean, those have been around since the day I came to URMIA well before me, you know, f while they were just in person back then. Um, I think that those conversations have added a lot. Anybody listening to the podcast, if you haven't been at our round tables, I'd really encourage you to check them out. You can be a listener. You don't necessarily have to, you know, speak up in the first one, but you will get more out of it if you, uh, ask your own question. So a little shout out there about the round tables. So Gary, I think we can, we can get this wrapped up. Um, although it's really hard to wind down your, your second career with URMIA here.
Um, and you did, you know, talk about the changing in the industry, but any other future predictions on higher education risk management?
[00:16:08] Gary Langsdale: Beyond the fact that we, you haven't seen it all, there's gonna be as Roseanne, Roseanna, Danna said on Saturday Night Live. If it isn't something, it's something else. And so that's, that is my question is that it will be something else that comes down the road.
We don't know what it's going to be, but I'm willing to bet that the risk managers have thought about it, even if they didn't say anything. These will be predictable surprises. I know that many people at their institutions had pandemic on their risk register, but they didn't think it was gonna come like it came.
I know a certain institution with, which I'm familiar, had scandal in athletics on its risk register. Didn't know it was gonna come the way it did, but these are things that I call instead of black swans I call them predictable surprises because people were thinking about it, they just hadn't said something, or they didn't think it was gonna come in the way it did.
And so people should continue to do that and they should voice those concerns. It won't sound as shocking when you're talking to a group of people who are willing to listen. If you say it out loud and prepare for what are the consequences, you won't stop bad things from happening to good people but you may be better prepared to not look like the deer in the headlights when something does occur. So I don't have a prediction about what it's going to be, Jenny. It's just gonna, that it's going to be something.
[00:17:44] Jenny Whittington: Yeah, that's, that is very well said. And I, I do have some future predictions for you about what you're going to be doing the rest of the day with your grandchildren. I'm pretty jealous about, I hear a little background. Going on in your house, and I wish you the, um, happiest of holidays. The happiest of retirements. And do you have one final joke for us? Well, for this, this final podcast.
[00:18:12] Gary Langsdale: Let me give you two for, for, because you've heard the first number of times, but maybe some of our podcast members haven't.
And that, and that one is, did you hear about the wedding between the two antennas? Well, the ceremony wasn't much. The ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was great. Get it? Antennas.
[00:18:36] Jenny Whittington: Okay. Joke number two.
[00:18:36] Gary Langsdale: Okay. Joke number two. So these two reception, the two cannibals, were eating a clown. And one says to the other, does this taste funny?
That's all I got.
[00:18:52] Jenny Whittington: That one's priceless Gary. Just like you are. Again, thank you. Thank you, thank you for all that you've done for URMIA. Stay in touch. I know you're planning to come to the Baltimore conference. Everybody make your plans to be with us in Baltimore in September.
[00:19:07] Gary Langsdale: I will be lurking in the retiree chat throughout the year, and I will see you in Baltimore.
[00:19:15] Jenny Whittington: Awesome. I think that'll be it. That'll be a wrap on this URMIA