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Sarasota-Manatee
Business Observer Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022 3 months ago

USF receives $5.26 million gift, renames insurance school

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The gift was donated by Baldwin Risk Partners to address the industry's talent gap.
by: Amanda Postma Sarasota-Manatee Editor

A local university recently received an investment of over $5 million to address the talent gap in the risk management and insurance industry. 

On Wednesday, the University of South Florida announced to a room full of community members and media in the FCCI rotunda, filling all three levels, that BRP Group Inc., headquartered in Tampa, had invested $5.26 million to address the industry’s talent gap. The gift to the USF School of Risk Management and Insurance is the largest given to the Sarasota-Manatee campus. 

BRP Group, formerly known as Baldwin Risk Partners, went public in 2019 under the stock symbol BRP. The firm closed out last year with $567.3 million in revenue. 

With the gift, the school has been renamed the Baldwin Risk Partners School of Risk Management and Insurance. USF President Rhea Law cited the RIMS Risk Management Talent 2025 Report, published in 2025, that found only 16% of industry professionals believe there will be enough risk management graduates number to meet 2025 demands. 

“Only 16% believe we’re actually meeting needs of the future,” Law said at the event. “That tells us we need to do something about it.” 

USF’s program came to fruition in 2016, before the school turned it into a bachelor’s degree program the following year. 

Lowry Baldwin, the chair and founding partner of BRP Group, says the investment came about after a co-founder and USF alum Elizabeth Krystyn sponsored a scholarship for students. “We talked about the potential larger opportunity, since the school is so new, that we can make an investment to begin to shape and form the future talent that’s entering our business,” Baldwin said at the event. 

Richard Tallo, the company’s chief marketing officer, has been working with school “to get the story around how incredibly good the opportunities are in insurance and risk management,” Baldwin says of the partnership. “It’s about us growing our own talent. We want to make the investment to grow talent that’s homegrown and fits into our culture.”

The firm hasn’t been a stranger to the talent gap. “Finding really talented, high performing, transformative individuals is incredibly difficult,” he says. Currently, the firm is collaborating with the school to determine how to maximize the gift. 

With the investment, Baldwin is hopeful the program will be able to supply talent sooner than later. 

“I think it’s acting as a significant catalyst to propel the university’s R&I program on a much faster trajectory than it would otherwise,” he says. “So we have a fantastic opportunity over the next three to five years to really build this school into a national powerhouse earlier than it would have in the absence of our investment.”

Steve Miller, associate professor and director of the school, says the investment will enable the school to grow by building a program that meets the talent needs facing the industry and community. Miller says the investment will be put together attracting and supporting students as well as providing special educational programming and opportunities for those students. It’ll also be used to attract faculty. 

“One of the reasons our industry faces such a talent gap is (that it’s) very challenging to build successful academic programs in risk management and insurance,” Miller says. “Our industry is challenged with communicating the variety and quality of career paths that are available in risk management and insurance to students. Because there aren’t many large risk management and insurance academic programs there’s also a dearth of trained academic scholars in our discipline.”

In order to be successful, Miller says, data and opportunities to engage at academic conferences will need to be provided to faculty so they can publish premier research to be used in the industry. 

“We think,” Law says, “this investment is going to increase visibility of the program, awareness of the specialization and (bring a) well-rounded educational experience to our students.” 

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