Don Bates, dean of UHD's College of Business, discusses plans for UHD's new Insurance and Risk Management Center with the Center's new director Wendall "Wendy" Braniff.
Don Bates, dean of the College of Business at the University of Houston-Downtown, has appointed Wendall “Wendy” Braniff as the director of the College’s Insurance and Risk Management Center. She is an attorney with insurance, education and government expertise and brings fundraising experience to the newly created center.
“Houston is the third-largest insurance market in the nation, yet there is a shortage of qualified, professional and entry-level employees in our region and state,” Bates said in announcing Braniff’s appointment. “The Center will provide development opportunities for professionals and complements our new undergraduate degree in insurance and risk management. Wendy’s expertise, knowledge and vision will be a great addition to the UHD College of Business team as we launch the center and the degree program.”
Braniff says she sees a solid future for the new venture.
“UHD is a great fit for the Insurance and Risk Management degree program,” she said. “The internships, dedicated faculty and flexible scheduling will contribute to the development of students who can hit the ground running upon graduation.”
Braniff, who joined UHD in July, has worked in the Texas legislature for the Harris County delegation of the Texas House and Senate and earned her law degree at the University of Houston.
She served as an attorney and general counsel to several state agencies, including the Texas Water Commission and the Texas Water development Board, and owned a private law practice in Austin. In 2002, she began a partnership with her husband, Tom Braniff; son, Rhett Braniff; and son-in-law, Steven Charnquist; creating Braniff Attorneys/Counselors, a law firm providing legal representation to insurance firms and other regulated businesses throughout Texas.
Braniff has taught legal and legislative courses, authored and published industry and practice series articles, and raised funds and served on boards and advisory councils for universities, high schools, school districts, associations, utility districts and non-profit organizations.
“The Center and degree program represent a prime example of how higher education and industry partnerships can serve the Gulf Coast community,” said Bates, who benefited from the guidance of UHD alumnus David de Roode, chief operating officer in Houston of BancorpSouth Insurance Services, Inc. They collaborated with industry leaders to develop and launch the program, one of about 40 in the nation.
UHD’s College of Business offers day and evening classes. UHD’s fall semester begins Monday, Aug. 24. The late admissions deadline for transfer students is Aug. 15. Admitted students can register for classes until Aug. 22.
Many groups, agencies and leaders in the Insurance industry are working with UHD to provide paid internships for students and other career opportunities. “Our supporters had the vision to make this educational program a reality and a resource for Houston and Texas,” said Bates, who established the Donald and Pat Gongware Insurance Management Center at Indiana State University in 1995.
Insurance agencies that have supported the college’s new center and degree program include BancorpSouth Insurance Services, Insurance Alliance, Dean & Draper Insurance Agency, USI, Hotchkiss Insurance Agency and GEM Insurance Agencies. The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, the Independent Insurance Agents of Houston and the Risk and Insurance Management Society also provided early support for formation of the program. Insurance carriers that are working with the College include AIG Domestic Brokerage Group, AIG American General Life Insurance Company, AIG VALIC, the Hartford Insurance Group, Chubb Insurance Company, Suretec Insurance Company and Safeco Insurance Company (recently acquired by Liberty Mutual).
Insurance wholesalers who are collaborating with the College include Myron F. Steves & Company, Leicht General Agency (recently acquired by RPS, Inc.), CRC Insurance Services and the Kilpatrick Companies, as well as industry consultants such as Professional Practice Capital (now PPCLoan.com), Texas Insurance Consulting, Pozmantier Consulting and Capstone Management.