BACHELOR OF ARTS
Understanding risk for business and insurance growth.
All businesses and organizations face risk, possible future events and circumstances that can affect business goals. Risk Management is the essential business process through which organizations assess and mitigate risks in order to protect information and property resources and develop strategic business and financial plans.
Mercyhurst’s F. W. Hirt Erie Insurance Risk Management Program offers a unique business curriculum that equips students with the analytical and project management skills, communication abilities, and understanding of the laws and regulations that are essential for careers in risk management or insurance. This major also includes exposure to in-demand fields such as enterprise risk management and insurance, and it’s one of the few programs in the country to offer coursework in cyber risk management. Organizations in every industry need professionals skilled in risk management; with the insurance industry facing a talent shortage of 400,000 professionals, our grads are well positioned for excellent careers after graduation.
The F. W. Hirt Erie Insurance Risk Management Program was developed through a partnership with Erie Insurance, a Fortune 500 company
The courses allow students to earn 33 percent of the requirements for the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation, a sought-after professional achievement in the property casualty industry
Housed in the Walker College of Business, this program also provides students with a well-rounded general business education
Statistics suggest a shortage of insurance professionals over the next few years, as the number of insurance employees aged 55 and older has increased 74 percent over the past decade. In fact, more than 400,000 insurance jobs are expected to be available in the next several years. Risk management programs at colleges and universities across the country routinely report near 100 percent job placement rates.
Recent grads of bachelor’s programs can expect to secure entry-level positions, such as claims adjuster and life underwriter, with starting salaries of more than $44,000.
As cyber coverage becomes more popular in the insurance marketplace, insurers and businesses are discovering a shortage of professionals with the cyber security and risk management skills needed to excel in this emerging field. Our program is one of the few undergraduate programs in the country to offer cyber risk management education, which means our grads are well positioned to excel in this growing niche.
In 2019, Mercyhurst’s F. W. Hirt Erie Insurance Risk Management Program established the Risk Management Advisory Board, with volunteer members recognized for their industry expertise, to provide feedback on the university’s risk management programming. The board offers insight on the undergraduate B.A. in Risk Management, as well as the graduate M.S. in Cyber Risk Management, helping to ensure our curricula are relevant, our students are learning valuable skills and competencies, and our students are entering fields with positive job outcomes. Overall, this relationship with the board allows us to be on the cutting edge of trends in the field.
Board members include:
- Robert W. Bowers, Westfield Insurance
- Marco Cercone, Esq., Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham LLC
- Frederick G. Fiedler, USI Insurance Services
- Keith Gillin, Pfister Insurance Agency
- Christina Multari, Synergy Comp Insurance Company
- Leah Ohodnicki, Argo Group
- Doug Smith, Erie Insurance
- Marshall Wunderlich, Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc.
Robert W. Bowers, MBA, CPCU, serves as Chief Claims Officer and National Claims and Customer Service Leader for Westfield Insurance.
In his capacity as Chief Claims Officer, Bowers is responsible for multiple property and casualty functions, including leading the corporate claims department, as well as claims reporting, billing customer service and collections, and premium accounting activities. He is a leader in driving a customer service culture within Westfield’s property and casualty operations, as well as partnering with organizational entities to develop and implement strategies to further customer experience, customer effort, and brand goals.
Since joining Westfield Insurance in 1996 as a claims specialist, Bowers has served in many capacities. Most recently, he was National Claims Strategy Leader (2010-2015), Claims Home Office Operations Leader (2007-2010), Organization Change Leader – Business Intelligence (2008-2010), Regional Executive – Central and Western Divisions (2002-2006), and Director of Claims Research and Development (2001-2002).
Bowers holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Geneva College and a Master of Business Administration from Ashland University, and is a member of the Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society. Additionally, he holds the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation, is certified in Prosci ADKAR Change Management, and was named 2018 CLM Claims Professional of the Year—Management.
Marco Cercone is a partner with the law firm Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham, practicing in the areas of first-party insurance coverage, claim investigation and litigation; subrogation; appellate practice; commercial litigation; antitrust matters; litigation of contested foreclosure cases; and wills and estate administration. As head of the property litigation practice group, he brings extensive trial and appellate experience, as well as specialized expertise in New York State’s Broad Evidence Rule.
Marco has deep experience in a number of areas, including arson, insurance fraud, appraisal under fire insurance policies, mortgagee claims, housing court defense, commercial and contract disputes, contested foreclosure cases, and antitrust matters involving the price-fixing of goods and commodities.
His mentorship goes beyond the associate attorneys and partners within his practice—he’s an adjunct instructor within Daemen College’s paralegal program. Marco also is a frequent lecturer and presenter on a number of topics related to property litigation, including fraud arson, appraisal, and material misrepresentation claims.
He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from Duquesne University, and holds an MPA from George Washington University and J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School.
Frederick G. Fiedler, ARM, is the Operating Company President, of USI Insurance Services Erie, Pennsylvania, office. USI Insurance Services is a full-service Insurance Brokerage & Risk Management Consulting firm and the nation’s ninth largest insurance broker with 145 offices throughout the United States.
As the Operating Company President, Fred is responsible for the overall financial performance of the office and for managing the quality of risk management services provided to their middle market clients. Fred is also the Senior Relationship Manager for many of the largest accounts and has more than 30 years’ experience with transportation, hospitals, nursing homes, specialty contactors, financial institutions, manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, public entity, and hospitality accounts.
Fred came to USI with an extensive background in the Commercial Property and Casualty industry. Prior to joining USI in May of 2014 through an acquisition, he was the Managing Director and Vice President for Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA, Inc. since November of 1999. Fred was responsible for the financial performance of the Erie office and managed the delivery of Brokerage and Risk Management services to the larger middle market clients.
Fred was Marketing Manager for the EBI Companies from 1998 to 1999, a National mono-line writer of Workers’ Compensation products and services. Over a ten-year period prior to joining EBI Companies, Fred held various sales and sales management positions at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, including Account Executive, Resident Manager, and Regional Sales Manager of the Western Pennsylvania Region.
Fred graduated from Mercyhurst University in Erie with a B.A. in Business Administration/ Marketing. He holds the Associate Risk Management Designation (ARM) and is a licensed Property and Casualty agent in Pennsylvania and a nonresident agent in New York, Florida, California, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee, Iowa, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Ohio, Washington, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Arizona, and North Carolina.
Keith Gillin has been servicing the needs of insurance clients since 1992. Keith started his insurance career with the Westfield Insurance Company working in the Claims Department, managing offices in Illinois and Ohio, prior to moving to the Personal Lines Underwriting Department as a Division Manager. Keith joined the Pfister Insurance Agency in 2009 as a licensed independent agent. His areas of focus include Personal and Commercial Insurance, along with Life Insurance needs of our Pfister clients. Keith was born/raised in Johnstown, PA and graduated from Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, OH, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration. He resides in Sharon Township (Medina County) with his wife, Anne, and three children, Nathan, Julia and Ella. He enjoys playing/coaching all sports activities and spending time with his family.
Christina Multari graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Christina began her insurance career in 2008 with Synergy Comp Insurance Company as a claims adjuster, implementing the claims model working hand and hand with SOS Consulting.
In 2012, Christina took a lead role as Claims Department Supervisor, where she was tasked with oversight of the claims staff and department results. In 2014, Christina moved into her role as AVP of the Claims Department. In this role, Christina was heavily involved in the pricing of new and renewal business accounts, oversight of department processes and procedures, staff development and management of the department vendors, and results. In 2016, Christina took the lead in oversight of the production underwriters. In addition to her claims responsibilities, Christina was tasked with the company’s profitable growth.
In 2017 Christina formally moved over the Underwriting and Marketing Departments and was made a Vice President. Christina continues to oversee the Claims, Marketing and Underwriting Departments with a focus on model implementation, client and agent relationships and profitable growth.
Christina is active in the community, serving as a Steering Committee Member for Leadership Shenango, an active board member for the United Way of Mercer County, Vice President of the Synergy Community Foundation; and previously a member of the Penn State Shenango Alumni Board.
Leah Ohodnicki is a senior vice president and the head of marketing and producer management in the Americas at Argo Group. In this role, Leah leads a talented team of marketers who are responsible for developing and executing strategies to achieve top and bottom line growth in Argo’s Americas region. Prior to Argo, Leah started her career in the insurance industry when she accepted a business development coordinator role at Marsh USA. During her nearly 10 years at Marsh, Leah served in local, regional and national roles within their marketing organization.
Leah is passionate about growth. At work, you can find her spearheading change to drive continuous improvement. Within the insurance industry, she’s focused on attracting talent to the industry through her participation on WSIA’s Career Development Committee. At Argo, she and her team recently launched the Ascend With Argo program, offering early-career producers the education, insight and connections they need to develop and thrive in the insurance industry.
At home, Leah is a proud wife, mother of two awesome boys and the world’s best beagle. In her spare time, Leah is a lover of musical theater and serves on the board of directors for the Pittsburgh CLO. She’s actively involved in the audience development and cabaret theater committees. Leah earned a BSBA from Duquesne University.
Doug Smith, CPCU, FCAS, MAAA, serves as executive vice president, Sales & Products, Erie Insurance. He oversees ERIE’s Sales & Marketing, Product and Underwriting divisions.
Smith joined The ERIE in 1999 as a commercial actuarial analyst. He was promoted to supervisor of the Personal Pricing and Modeling Section in 2003. In 2008, Smith was named senior vice president, Personal Lines—a position he held until joining executive leadership in 2016.
Smith serves on the Board of Directors of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety as chair of the Research Advisory Committee. He also serves on and is former chair of the Young Leaders Council (YLC) Steering Committee for United Way.
Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in statistics from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (FCAS), a member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA) and a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU).
Marshall Wunderlich is the area president, western Pennsylvania, of Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc.
His current responsibilities in that role include management and oversight of Arthur J. Gallagher's Property/Casualty brokerage operations and growth strategy in western Pennsylvania. Gallagher's western Pennsylvania operation focuses on niche expertise in the areas of Higher Education, Public Sector, Food, Risk Management, Construction, Energy, Captives, and Manufacturing.
Additional responsibilities include development and execution growth and retention strategies, employee performance and development, budget development and accountability, oversight of professional standards, and execution of merger and acquisition strategies.
Wunderlich is a graduate of Allegheny College and the Duquesne University School of Law.