April 12, 2015

Maryland Schools Get Down to Business

Tailored programs add to students' marketability

From the Baltimore Sun
By: Nancy Menefee Jackson, Contributing Writer

Notre Dame of Maryland University won't risk a gap in knowledge.

If only the Seattle Seahawks had studied risk management at Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Charles Yoe, Ph.D., a professor of economics at Notre Dame, laughs as he explains he's citing that famous interception in his risk management classes, which are part of the first graduate certificate program in risk management in the state. Risk management, once the province of the insurance industry, focus on what can go wrong, what are the consequences, what would happen if something does go wrong and how likely is it to happen?

Increasingly, government agencies and private entities alike are using risk management, and the discipline is still developing.

"Every business faces risk," Yoe explains. "Risk management is the confluence of science, bringing the best evidence and data to bear, and incorporating it with social values to make decisions that limit the effect of risks on the objectives of your organization." 

Food agencies, in particular, are moving from a reactive approach—an outbreak of food-borned illness occurs, and they attempt to find the source—to a risk management approach. "Three thousand people will sit down to a meal that will kill them, and one in six will get sick," Yoe says. "That industry said, 'we have to do better. We have to identify the hazards.' I do a lot of training internationally." Public safety and public health are also fields increasingly turning to risk management.

What distinguishes the risk arena is its emphasis on uncertainty and reducing the uncertainty about what can go wrong. 

"There's nothing that's risk-free," Yoe says. "It makes sense for us to measure and assess the risk."

To prepare people to do that, Notre Dame is offering an accelerated, online graduate certificate in risk management. To enroll in the program, which consists of six three-credit courses, students must have an undergraduate degree. The online format allowed one government agency to have 24 people from across the country enrolled in the program as a group.

The courses are taught sequentially, with two five-week courses in the fall, two seven-week courses in the spring and two in the summer.

"I'm very excited about this," Yoe says. "It really does fill a niche that hasn't been met elsewhere."