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Kent State University at Salem will be the starting point for a new bachelor’s degree of insurance studies in the fall of 2012.
Insurance is a huge industry in Ohio. The Westfield Group Inc. and Progressive Insurance are based here, and the state has 245 insurance companies, making it the seventh-largest state in insurance-industry employment.
KSU President Lester A. Lefton said in a news release that by 2016, Ohio’s insurance industry is going to grow by 7.1 percent. About 238,000 people work now in the industry in the state, and about 50 percent of those workers will be retiring by then.
Many people now in the industry have a bachelor’s degree. The new degree will be the insurance degree.
David B. Hazen of Salem, who is vice president of Commercial Lines of Hunting Insurance, was instrumental in formulating the plans for the degree.
“We need a work force with a solid understanding of insurance, especially as this industry continues to grow and expand,” he said.
The program initially will be funded by a $20,000 donation from the Independent Insurance Agents of Ohio.
Hazen said the program is a “win-win” situation for everyone.
As the older workers retire, a new group of educated people will be ready to take their places, he said.
For example, a customer-service representative can make $600 a week; a risk manager can make more than $2,000 a week.
Hazen added that everyone got behind the project, including Gov. John Kasich.