Dr. Kevin Shirley worked as an actuary for Transamerica for seven years before coming to Appalachian State University.
“I not only enjoyed the work day to day, but also came to understand the importance of what actuaries are doing for our society,” he said.
Actuaries manage risk, and the Actuarial Science (BS) degree at Appalachian is a great entry point to this profession that uses numbers to evaluate the likelihood of future events, designs creative ways to reduce risk, and decreases the impact if undesirable events do occur.
“I had just developed a number of insurance products and was transitioning into a maintenance phase at my particular location. It was during this time of transition that I received word that Appalachian was looking for someone with my credentials,” Shirley said.
Shirley described his research history as non-traditional.
“I’ve been collaborating with colleagues researching in the area of modeling issues related to carbon emissions, sequestration and contracts. I’m also beginning down a research path that includes actuarial education. Actuarial science is a relatively new academic area so this area is very ripe for development. I also see this path as providing an opportunity to share with my students the latest techniques being used by actuaries and give them experience exploring new possibilities in modeling,” he said.
Shirley said that his experience working at Transamerica brings a professional set of experiences and level of expertise to Appalachian that other programs do not have.
“I think our mathematics and statistics faculty as well as faculty in the Walker College of Business provide excellent instruction in their courses. I believe Appalachian provides a high-quality experience that is student-focused. We expose students to the interview process by bringing potential actuary employers to campus to interview interested students for both full-time employment and internships. I invite actuaries that I know, some I have worked with in the past, to come and speak to the students about their experiences,” he said.
Shirley said he wishes to contribute positively to his students’ experiences at Appalachian. He is the faculty advisor for the recently founded actuarial science club at Appalachian.
“Learning the material that I teach requires working a lot of problems and sometimes being very creative in formulating solutions. To be successful, my students need to enjoy being challenged. They need to identify and work on areas where they are weakest,” he said.
Shirley said he hopes that his students develop a sense of responsibility for their own education and development.
“I hope when they come away from the classes I teach that they enjoy learning more than they did when they started the class,” he said.