Lipscomb University Director of Risk Management Kathy Hargis was recently installed as president-elect of the University Risk Management and Insurance Association. She will assume the presidency of the 2,100-member organization for the 2016-17 academic year.
?Hargis, who is also Lipscomb’s compliance officer, has led the university’s risk management program since its inception in 2005. She said being a part of an organization such as URMIA is critical to form relationships with colleagues from other universities, to share best practices and to stay abreast of the latest advances in the risk management field.
“The risks on university campuses are increasing,” says Hargis. “Every few weeks it seems there is some type of incident at a college, but preventing risk is much more critical than just responding to an incident when it happens. It is important for risk managers to proactively find ways to make a campus as safe an environment as possible.”
“Being a part of URMIA for the last decade has proven to be valuable for me as through it I have developed a network of colleagues whom I can ask for input and feedback. The resources have been invaluable, and I’ve learned new approaches that we have implemented into our program at Lipscomb.”
As president-elect, Hargis will work closely with current URMIA president, Donna McMahon, from the University of Maryland, and will visit peer institutions to learn more about their risk management programs. Other elected officers include risk managers at Yale University, the University of Nebraska and West Virginia University.
“Higher education is such a regulated industry,” says Hargis. “Knowing what those regulations are, such as the Clery Act, Title IX issues, FERPA among many others, is critical to a university’s operation. We have to continually be aware of what those regulations are in addition to what the risks on our campuses are.”
“We are visionary on university campuses about academics, and we also have to be visionary about potential risks,” she continues.
Prior to working in higher education, Hargis worked in the corporate field, holding the position of risk manager for a large banking corporation in Tennessee, First American Corporation. She began her career as a commercial underwriter for CNA and Royal Sun Alliance Insurance Companies. In her current role as director of risk management, she oversees emergency management, business continuity planning, and environmental health and safety, along with the risk management duties for the university. Hargis sits on numerous committees within the institution. She brings with her over 20 years’ experience in the insurance and risk management industry.
URMIA is an international nonprofit educational association serving colleges and universities. Its core purpose is to promote the advancement and application of effective risk management principles and practices in higher education institutions. The organization represents over 2,100 individuals at more than 590 institutions and 100 companies with members ranging from small schools and community colleges to the largest educational institutions.
Hargis says through the organization she has learned from other institutions that have weathered a crisis situation. She was at an URMIA meeting with Pennsylvania State University risk manager Gary Langsdale a few years ago when news broke about the Jerry Sandusky situation. She said she learned valuable lessons by observing how Langsdale managed that situation.
“I’ve been amazed at how open my colleagues who have gone through some pretty tough situations are to sharing their experiences and lessons learned,” says Hargis. “The relationships that I have built on behalf of Lipscomb University are key. There’s a value in being able to pick up the phone and to call upon these resources at other schools when I need them.”
Hargis has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Kentucky University and an MBA with a specialization in conflict management from Lipscomb University.