James R. Martin named to Robert Benmosche Endowed Professorship in Risk Engineering and Systems Analytics
CLEMSON — James R. Martin has been named the first holder of the Robert Benmosche Endowed Professorship in Risk Engineering and Systems Analytics as part of Clemson University’s collaboration with American International Group Inc. (AIG).
The professorship is named for the late AIG president and chief executive officer, who was among the first to recognize the power of science, engineering, technology and analytics to serve AIG’s clients.
“It’s humbling,” Martin said. “I’m tremendously honored because Mr. Benmosche’s name is synonymous with excellence in leadership. It’s known all over the world. He was a visionary leader who understood that the landscape is changing for modern financial firms, especially for insurance, and he demonstrated leadership that few people can duplicate.”
Clemson University President James P. Clements said Martin is well-deserving of the professorship.
“Dr. Martin helped bring together the Clemson-AIG collaboration, making him uniquely qualified to lead this initiative into the future,” Clements said. “He is an energizing leader, who is passionate about advancing the Risk Engineering and Analytics Institute here at Clemson. The cutting-edge research he is doing with AIG and others not only has the potential to save lives and property, but is also giving students valuable experience and positioning Clemson to expand its global footprint.”
Benmosche was president and CEO of AIG from 2009 to 2014. He died in February 2015 at the age of 70 after a long fight with cancer.
As part of the professorship, Martin leads the Risk Engineering and Analytics Institute at Clemson.
The focus areas of the institute include high-performance computing, advanced modeling development, online education, risk assessment, global partnerships and casualty claims. The common core functions that unite all of the divisions are big data, risk analytics and evidence-based decision-making.
AIG announced in October 2015 that it was providing an initial $4 million investment to develop the institute and establish the professorship.
Peter D. Hancock, president and chief executive officer of AIG, said he is pleased that Martin has been named to the professorship.
“The professorship honors Bob Benmosche, whose vision made this collaboration possible,” he said. “The collaboration is in highly capable hands. We’re excited to continue growing our relationship with Clemson. This investment in technology, data insights and engineering will enable us to partner with our clients in new ways.”
Martin said the collaboration with AIG helps provide Clemson students and researchers with compelling, real-world research and educational engagement opportunities on campus and around the world.
“They’re working on advanced modeling and analytics to develop solutions to complex problems using datasets from one of the world’s largest firms, and we’re having global impact,” he said.
“We’re right there at the boundary where the knowledge is being created. You can’t get better than that. That’s why it’s important for Clemson. It not only provides new employment and career opportunities for graduates across a wide range of disciplines, it also integrates our university curriculum and expands our way of thinking beyond traditional disciplinary, institutional and corporate boundaries.”
Martin said that the professorship and relationship with AIG represents the important role data analytics play in risk mitigation and engineering for insurers today and in the future.
“Big financial institutions, especially insurance firms, have to do business in a different way going forward,” Martin said. “They have to become more agile, more data and technology savvy, and they must innovate faster. They also have to learn how to fully leverage the power of big data more than ever before.
“They have to understand complex relationships and interactions across the world because they are highly interconnected. And they have to better understand their clients and their risks and provide solutions that go beyond traditional insurance. The only way you can do that effectively is through big data and analytics. In fact, the big data phenomenon, especially with the emerging Internet of Things, is the next big thing for almost everyone involved in any aspect of commerce or governance.”
A group of 45 Clemson students, ranging from freshmen to Ph.D. candidates, have begun big-data analytics work as part of the collaboration with AIG. Students represent a variety of majors from throughout campus.
“We have created a world-class collision space for innovation,” Martin said. “It is the most amazing group of students that I have seen since I’ve been here at Clemson. I am especially excited at the rapid rate of expansion, which will only accelerate.”
Clemson will also benefit from AIG’s global branding and footprint, helping position the university to set up exchange programs or other international initiatives, Martin said.
“Thanks to our collaboration with AIG, there are more than 100 countries and jurisdictions where we have a close partner,” he said. “We are internationalizing Clemson, using their global footprint,” Martin added.
The collaboration represents a broader trend in higher education, Martin said. Much of the compelling research happening now is being done outside traditional government-funding sources, he said.
“If you’re going to be a leading university, it means you’re going to have to have a much closer alignment with industry to make a global impact and provide engaging educational experiences or you’re simply not going to be relevant,” he said. “If you look at the elite research universities and listen to global thought leaders, they’re going the same way.”
Martin will continue to serve as chair of the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering.
Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering and Science, congratulated Martin on being the first holder of the professorship.
“Dr. Martin has led this initiative from the Clemson side since we first began developing the plan two years ago,” Gramopadhye said. “His experience, passion and leadership make him uniquely qualified to lead this collaboration, which positions us for strength into the future.”