By Michael Freeman, Managing Editor
Several university departments and officials have shared risk management responsibilities over the years, until recently when the university hired Lawrence Rugar as director of risk management last November.
“I’m going to manage our risks,” Rugar said. “And risks can be defined as anything that would interfere with the flow of business, the financial stability of the university or the health and safety of the people who work and learn here.”
Before coming to ACU, Rugar served for three years as the corporate risk manager for the Sears Methodist Retirement System in Abilene. While at the university, his responsibilities will include ensuring the university is properly insured, preparing departments in the case of emergencies such as natural disasters and making sure the university follows fire safety codes and remains in compliance with federal and state regulations. He also will review student travel guidelines and social club policies. His responsibilities were a result of the university’s growing need for a more structured and intentional approach to risk management, according to a Feb. 3 e-mail Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, sent to faculty and staff.
“It’s basically the next logical step toward being proactive in managing potential risk or vulnerabilities that might come to the university or its students, faculty or staff,” Money said.
However, Rugar’s position is not a new position.
“This is not something new; it’s something we’ve been working toward,” Money said. “We’ve never had a full-time risk manager that I can recall, but it came partly as a result of the reassignment of existing positions.”
The responsibilities Rugar has undertaken was shared by Slade Sullivan, general counsel of the university; Kevin Watson, former assistant vice president for administrative services and chief operations officer; the Office of Student Life and various committees. Rugar, Sullivan and a risk management committee, which is still being assembled, will work with the Board of Trustees to mitigate risks.
“Anything that has a risk or potential harm to our mission, to the business that we do and to the people that we serve is what I try to manage,” Rugar said. “And by managing risk, what I mean by that is understanding risk before it happens and interpreting it. On the flip side, when risk does occur – and it does just like gravity happens no matter what – we just want to minimize it, so it’s not as devastating as it might have been if we weren’t aware of the circumstances.”