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Insurance Industry Leader Turned Faculty Member Brings Experience to Classroom, Leads UCA Center for Insurance & Risk Management

Ivan Hudson, Director of the UCA Center for Insurance & Risk Management and Lecturer, joined the College of Business faculty in fall 2023. In this interview, he shares his insights about his first semester, his advice for students, and his vision for what’s ahead in 2024.

Give us some highlights of your experience in the business environment from before you joined the UCA College of Business Faculty.

I got my career start with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. In November of 2008 I went to work for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation as Program Associate. At this time in 2008, two-thirds of Arkansas voted to pass the Lottery legislation. Fast Forward to October of 2009 when I joined the start-up management team at the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. Over the three and a half year period that I was there, I served in a number of capacities, including Procurement Director and Internal Operations Director. I’ll completed my MBA while there, and when I finished my MBA program at UALR December 2012, I launched the Ivan Hudson Agency as my entry into the insurance industry. In March 2014, I secured my Series 6 and Series 63 designations to help set me apart in the industry.

Networking has always been important to me. My personal and professional mantra is “You can network or not work, but you can’t do both.” That really speaks to my core value of building relationships. Solid meaningful relationships, will take you places that even education and other resources can’t.

Career Facts about Director Hudson:

  • December 2012- Received MBA from UALR
  • December 2012 – Launched the Ivan Hudson Agency
  • 2017-2018 – President of Rotary Club of West Little Rock
  • President, National African-American Insurance Association – Arkansas Chapter
  • Independent Insurance Agents of Arkansas, Education Foundation, Board of Directors
  • Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, National Diversity Council
  • NAREB National Insurance Committee (NNIC) Member

How did you hear about this position at UCA and what led you to focus your time in the classroom?
Although the insurance industry is robust and dynamic, it also is relatively small. When networking and getting involved in industry associations, I made meaningful connections that landed me at events on UCA’s campus. After learning more about the Insurance & Risk Management program, I connected with UCA’s EFIRM department and maintained ongoing communication. Once I learned that my predecessor had re-entered the industry and the Director role was vacant, I actually put on my thinking cap to see if I could help identify a strong candidate for the search committee to consider. The more I looked at the qualifications, I realized that I had the skillset and experiences that would provide unique perspective in the classroom. I was at a cross-section in my career where I decided the best use of my time was to leverage my experiences to invest in students.

Why did you choose the Insurance field as your subject of work?
The subject actually chose me. After working in economic development, private philanthropy government administration, I made a career transition December of 2012. I was fascinated by insurance and financial services after identifying there were huge gaps with consumer access and education around very basic principles. I launched an insurance agency and became an active professional in the industry by getting involved with various industry organizations. Insurance is a lot more technical than people realize, so I would spend a lot of time educating my clients. It’s the same energy and commitment to education that I bring when teaching in the classroom.

What about your job now teaching brings you the most joy?
I am thrilled about engaging with my fellow faculty members to bring real-time experiences to students that they would not get from lectures or just reading a text book. Part of my role requires me to serve as the Faculty Advisor for the the student organization dedicated to students pursing insurance and risk management, actuarial science and related degrees – Gamma Iota Sigma. Pouring into students and seeing their level of interest and understanding evolve is very rewarding.

Fall was your first semester here. What was your favorite part or memory from the semester?
My favorite part of the fall semester was hearing and seeing the students perspective evolve regarding various insurance topics and applications. Having a front row seat to students have “light bulb” moments and witnessing their level of understanding and interest grow was absolutely fascinating. There were even a few students that changed their major to Insurance & Risk Management.

What tips or advice would you give to new, current, or prospective business students?
I would encourage students to keep an open mind to the myriad of careers that await them by obtaining a degree from UCA COB. The business climate can be very fast-paced and dynamic and simultaneously, very rewarding! I’m a huge advocate for our Insurance & Risk Management program, because it is the only one of its kind in the state of Arkansas. If a student decides not to pursue Insurance & Risk Management as a major, it is still available as a consideration for a minor. Our institution and the College of Business specifically, is a primary source for local, regional and even national employers looking for top talent, no matter the major/minor. Business students have access to internship and real-time experiences that could lead to fascinating job and career paths.

After moving to the classroom, how do you envision 2024 being different for you ? What new goals and perspectives do you have going into this new year?
For 2024 and beyond, I believe it is important to continue highlighting the value of UCA’s Insurance program as the only one of its kind in Arkansas. There are lots of real-time changes in the insurance and financial services marketplaces that dictate future job and career opportunities that await our students. To that end, I would like to facilitate additional opportunities for industry leaders and professionals to engage with and inspire students in our program, and especially students that actively participate in Gamma Iota Sigma. The Alpha Psi Chapter housed here at UCA is the campus RSO geared towards networking and leadership development opportunities for students in insurance and risk-related fields. Personally, I plan to learn more about the UCA campus community and the at-large Conway community.

Aside from his duties as the Director of Center for Insurance & Risk Management at UCA, Hudson can be found this semester teaching in the classroom: one “Introduction to Insurance” course, one “Risk and Insurance” course, and two Insurance Practicum courses as well as an online “Risk and Insurance” course. He also is the sponsor for the Gamma Iota Sigma registered student organization on campus.

UCA Insurance Program Awarded Grant from Spencer Educational Foundation

The University of Central Arkansas Insurance and Risk Management program has been awarded a grant from the Spencer Educational Foundation, supporting a key Experiential Learning opportunity for students.

The funds were given to support the 2024 Risk Manager on Campus. For this event, a Risk Management and Insurance Professional is brought to the UCA College of Business for class visits, campus-wide lectures, panel discussions, meetings with student organizations such as Gamma Iota Sigma, and meals with faculty and other IRM community professionals. This is a valuable opportunity to allow students to network and learn from the visiting Risk Manager.

For 24 years, Spencer’s Risk Manager on Campus (RMOC) Program has offered this rewarding educational experience for students and a chance to give back to the profession. Spencer’s Risk Manager on Campus program offers grants to universities and colleges in the United States and Canada to host a practicing Risk Manager on its campus for a 1–3-day residency.

The Spencer Foundation has supported the Risk Manager on Campus program for years, most recently bringing Bailey Pipkin in 2023 and Mr. Lance Ewing in 2022.

Economics Professor Kalulu Impacts Through Teaching & Research

Dr. Mavuto Kalulu, Assistant Professor of Economics in the UCA EFIRM Department, shares why he chose to study economics, why he chooses to teach, and details about his research in Sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest region in the world. Dr. Kalulu is also a Scholar affiliated with the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics (ACRE).

Why did you choose economics?
A teacher in high school explained to me that studying economics would equip me with skills to be able to understand the complex world. Life is full of choices because we have scarce resources. Economics provides the principles and tools to be able to understand why individuals, governments and businesses make the choices they make.

Teaching economics affords me the opportunity to contribute to other peoples lives by instilling in them some real-life skills that they need in their day-to-day lives.

What about your job brings you the most joy?
The joy comes from seeing my students perform to the best of their ability. It takes discipline to be successful in class. Discipline to show up in class and engage. Discipline to do all the homework on time and discipline to study for the exams. I am happy when my students realize that sooner than later.

With regards to research, I enjoy being able to work with other faculty from various disciplines. For the research I am presenting on the 27th, I am working in collaboration with Dr. Rania Al-Bawwab from the EFIRM Department and Dr. Yeil Know from the department of Mathematics.

What tips or advice would you give to new, current, or prospective business students?
My advice to all students includes:
1. Engage your professors more in class as well as during office hours. Ask questions when you don’t understand. It shouldn’t take extra points for you to schedule a meeting for office hours.
2. Engage your fellow students more. There are students from different backgrounds and cultures and engaging them will enrich your experience of different cultures. I deliberately assign group activities to facilitate peer to peer engagement. You can also form study groups to discuss the materials.
3. It is important not to procrastinate on your homework and assignments. I try to make the homework and assignments due the same day and time all throughout the semester to make it easier to remember the deadlines.

Your research: Describe what you studied or what problem you wanted to solve.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the poorest region in the world. Despite being rich in natural resources including mineral reserves, the exploitation of the resources has not resulted in improved living standards in the region. Research shows that weak economic, political and legal institutions are a major contributor to why Sub Saharan Africa remains poor. Weak institutions encourage corruption and vice versa. When democracy swept through Africa in the early 1990s, people were hopeful that democracy would foster stronger institutions which would in turn encourage economic growth in the region. Three decades later, Sub Saharan Africa remains poor and is the most corrupt region in the word according to the 2022 Transparency International Report. Did democracy help or it did not?

Why did you choose this research topic?
In my conversations with some of my friends from other African countries, it is apparent that there is a perception that democracy has not yet yielded the economic benefits people were expecting. One of the possible reasons is that public corruption persists, in some cases worse than it was under autocratic rule. To my knowledge, no one has formally investigated whether the problem stems from the type of transition from autocratic regimes to democratic regimes can explain the difference in the corruption experiences in the different Sub-Saharan African countries after the switch to democratic regimes. Answering the question will help inform on how to improve governance in sub-Saharan Africa and hence improve the well-being of the people living in the area. In addition, some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced military coups. This research can also inform on the process of returning to democracy.

What have you learned from doing this research?
Our initial analysis revealed no significant pattern on the experience of Sub-Saharan African countries with regards to corruption before and after transitioning from autocracy to democracy. Further analysis that considers that there are many other factors that can influence the level of corruption reveals that democracy and institutions matter. Improving the institutions, especially the economic institutions can help Sub-Saharan African countries curb corruption and hence improve the livelihood of the residents in this region. Our next step in the process is to select some of the countries and investigate further to establish causation rather than just an association.

What do you hope others will learn or gain from your research?
The hope is that through this research others will gain a better understanding of the experience of Sub-Saharan African countries before and after transitioning from autocratic rule to democratic rule. We hope that others will get a deeper insight into the level of corruption in Sub-Saharan African countries and hopefully interest them into wanting to contribute to research on ways to reduce the level of corruption in the region to better the livelihood of the residents in the region.

Dr. Kalulu is presenting his research on October 27 at 12:30pm in COB Room 206 for any who want to see him speak about his research in person. He can also be found in the classroom this fall teaching Global Environment of Business and Intermediate Macroeconomics. Students can register for his as the professor teaching those same classes in spring 2024, and in summer 2024, he is set to teach Modern Political Economy and Global Environment of Business.

Dr. Kalulu has been researching this topic for years. See Dr. Kalulu speak about “Economic Freedom of the World” to a group of Arkansas educators at a Teaching Free Enterprise in Arkansas workshop in fall 2018.

Senior Finance Major RandeeK McPherson Shares How She Secured a Full-Time Job Months Before Graduation

Senior finance major RandeeK (pronounced Randee-Kay) McPherson recently spoke to Professor Ivan Hudson’s Insurance 3324 class about her lessons learned and how she secured a full-time job months before she is set to graduate in May 2024. McPherson credited her time spent at events like UCA Career Fairs, which helped her make the right connections to find internships.

Why did you choose this field of study?

I loved numbers and planning for the future. I didn’t know what job that would be or how that would look. I just knew it was the most enjoyable to me.

Tell us about your internship experience.

I knew I needed a potential job opportunity after graduation, and choosing an internship the summer after my junior year answered so many questions about what I would be doing.

One month into my second internship I realized I want to be a financial advisor, and because of that, I’m going into my senior year with a job already secured after graduation, and that makes all the difference when starting classes. During my internship, I noticed that I was ahead because I knew some of the things [my coworkers] were talking about just from my classes [at the College of Business].

If I hadn’t tried this internship, I wouldn’t have been offered a job after graduation! Knowledge-wise though, I learned that some things matter more than the dollar you’re making, if you’re helping others.

Any lessons learned you’d like to share?

I did two internships, and the first one was valuable because it helped me see that job path was NOT right for me. The time students take now to do internships will help so much more as you get closer to graduation. There are so many options, and you’ll never know which is right for you ’till you try!

I also realized that insurance knowledge is required in financial advising, which is why I am investing in those classes. This past summer I passed my Life and Health Insurance Exam and will be studying for the SIE [Securities Industry Essentials] this school year.

What advice do you have for your fellow students?

1. Do an internship.
2. Take any study group opportunities you can as well as bonus points!! They make it easier at the end when your final grade is due.

UCA Economist Explains Federal Debt Ceiling in PBS Interview

In this issue of Arkansas Week, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack discusses the U.S. debt ceiling, and the impending deadline for raising it, after which Dr. Jeremy Horpedahl explains the economic impact it could pose. Click the image below to watch the interview:

Dr. Horpedahl serves the community by explaining complex economic issues that affect the average American. He also Associate Prof. of Economics at UCA and the Director of the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics. He received his PhD in economics from George Mason University in 2009, concentrating in public choice, public finance, and economic history. His research has been published in Econ Journal WatchConstitutional Political Economy, the Atlantic Economic JournalPublic Choice, and Public Finance and Management. Dr. Horpedahl has also published op-eds in a variety of regional and national publications. Prior to taking on the role of Director, Dr. Horpedahl has been a researcher with ACRE since joining the UCA faculty in 2015.

Delwin Portillo Shares Recent Study Abroad Experience

Related: Education Abroad Opportunities – Upcoming Deadlines

My semester abroad visiting The Hague, Netherlands was easily the most enriching semester of my undergrad. I learned so much about being a leader, diversity, self confidence, personal growth, and of course I learned a lot about business and marketing!

I was able to take a Purposeful Marketing course which had many different components to it. There was a leadership component, in which I learned different leadership skills and how to flesh out and improve these skills. There was a Project Management component where I learned how to use SCRUM Methodology in order to complete a project. And then the Marketing Component in which I worked with a real life charity in brainstorming a new marketing strategy for their upcoming projects.

Over the course of the semester I was able to travel to multiple countries and experience a variety of cultures. I was able to meet many people that I am now able to call mentors and friends. It is an experience that I will never take for granted, and I feel has given me a renewed appreciation for education and traveling. Thank you UCA for this fantastic opportunity.

  • Delwin Portillo | Senior | marketing major

COB Students Awarded Scholarships from Participation in ACRE Reading Groups

Just before Thanksgiving, around 20 College of Business students were awarded scholarships from the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics for their weekly participation this semester in two reading group programs.

In “The Role of Government in a Free Society” group led by UCA Economics Professor, Dr. Collin Hodges, and Department Chair, Dr. Tom Snyder, ten participants read and discussed works by scholars such as Adam Smith, J.S. Mill, John Locke, and Karl Marx, as well as more contemporary works by Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Nozick, and John Rawls to examine what a variety of economists, political philosophers, and public policy experts have contributed to this topic. The group also traveled to Dallas in September to participate in a group summit with other universities that completed the same readings. Students were awarded $500 on November 14 for their participation this semester.

A second reading group also met this semester and awarded $500 scholarships to students who participated in the philosophy and law reading group called “Landmark Supreme Court Cases” led by Business Law Professor Dr. Anthony McMullen and Philosophy Professor Dr. Jacob Held. Over the course of ten weeks, students in this reading group studied major Supreme Court opinions covering topics such as economic freedom, federalism, equal protection, privacy, and intellectual property rights. Working through these decisions helped students understand the rule of law, Constitutionalism, and the role the judicial branch plays in our government.

All students were required to gain acceptance into the program and actively participate in the program throughout the semester.

For questions about reading groups and the application process continuing reading, or contact Suzanne Massey at

Innovation Challenge 2 Winners Announced

Congratulations to our Imagine Lab Innovation Challenge 2 winners: Savannah Conly, Grayson Pinson, and Veronica Bertolusso!

The competition launched early this fall, and this time students were challenged to select a day in September and tell us how to celebrate it in a big way. Using tools found in the Imagine Lab (3rd Floor of UCA’s College of Business), the competition winners designed a big-time celebration that, at the least, brings people together.

Many thanks to Stoby’s, a long-time Arkansas favorite, for contributing to our prizes for our first place winners!

See Related Article: Innovation Challenge Series at UCA: First Winners Announced!

First Place: Savannah Conly – ($100 value prize) + Stoby’s prize

Cinema day is a day all about relaxation, connecting with your friends and family, and having fun. By making this a National Holiday, it brings people together and allows them to enjoy something together. It caters to all ages, it brings people together, and creates a new market for a different spin on gift giving.

Second Place: Grayson Pinson ($50 value prize)

The Birth Day is a day where we recognize everyone’s birthday on one day. It doesn’t replace your actual birthday; instead, it is a day that we can all come together to commonly celebrate one day that we all love. It solves all gift-giving problems related to birthdays. We now have one centralized day that gifts can be expected rather than having to decide who you will gift a gift to on their actual birthday. It is a day I would personally also love to celebrate- it sounds very fun for everyone to have a birthday at the same time.

Third Place: Veronica Bertolusso ($25 value prize)

My proposed day of celebration is the International Student Day! It would be celebrated yearly on September 28. ISD will allow international students (and not!) to get together and appreciate all cultures from around the globe. During ISD international students will celebrated together throughout one big cookout where everyone will make their most loved Home meal and will later be followed by a karaoke night with song in each home language. ISD is celebrated during the first two weeks of Hispanic Heritage Month. However, many cultures not only aren’t celebrated well enough, but some of them are still unknown! ISD would help solve this issue and expand cultural knowledge to international students and not! And who doesn’t love a good cookout and karaoke night!

Congratulations to these winners. Stay tuned for the announcement of our next challenge on Monday, October 10!

Innovation Challenge Series at UCA: First Winners Announced!

See related post: Innovation Challenge Series Released at UCA

The first two winners of our new and exciting innovation challenge are Connor Tuttle and Savannah Conly! The competition launched in the COB Imagine Lab last week challenging students to design a suitcase that accommodates clean clothes at the beginning of a trip and dirty clothes during and at the end of a trip. Using tools found in the Imagine Lab (3rd Floor of UCA’s College of Business), the competition winners designed a suitcase that overcomes this core challenge.

Best-upgraded design – $100 value prize: Connor Tuttle

Many thanks to Stoby’s, a long-time Arkansas favorite, for contributing to our prizes for our first place winners!

In his submission, Connor said:
“Imagine a for-the-most-part normal ole’ suitcase, with a golden twist addressing an issue that has been around for decades! The fundamental design premise behind this suitcase is that down the middle of the main compartment there is a stretchy nylon divider that allows for different proportions of clothes to be held on either side depending on how far along you are on your trip! The front-facing section of the suitcase has the typical small, medium, and large compartment. The back, however, is also accessible for dealing with dirty laundry. Taking up approximately half of the top portion of the back-facing side will be a zipper compartment housing all of the tools necessary to temporarily deal with dirty laundry while on the go. Within the flap in the back, there is a mesh-like pocket to slide dryer sheets that have been folded twice right into the space to serve as a form of temporary air freshening.”

Second Place Design – $50 value prize: Savannah Conly

Savannah branded her suitcase and described her design as, “a suitcase designed to help keep you organized, from the beginning to end of a trip. With the detachable laundry bag, clothes rack, and hard shell, it is easier than ever to Rome more organized than ever before. Not only does it offer a way to keep your clean and dirty clothes separate, it offers an at-home closet feel, and you lose no space to pack.

Stay tuned. The first challenge was for students, but we will be engaging other friends on and off campus this semester. Get ready to compete! Teams are welcome. Email for questions or details. And if you plan to compete in the next challenge, request access to the Imagine Lab now!

Department of Marketing & Management: