Second Sentry Insurance Data Analytics Chair named at UW-Stevens Point

  • Share:
May 20, 2019
The second faculty member in the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s data analytics program has been officially installed. Kurt Pflughoeft is the Sentry Insurance Endowed Chair in Computational Analytics.
 
A $4 million gift from Sentry Insurance in 2016, the largest in the university’s history, created a new major in data analytics and endowed two new faculty positions. Eduardo Rodriguez joined the School of Business and Economics in fall 2017 as the Sentry Insurance Endowed Chair in Business Analytics. 
 
Already, three students have graduated from the data analytics program, and six more will graduate May 18. Nearly 50 are majoring in it. The data analytics program features curriculum that integrates the fields of business, computer science, economics, mathematics and statistics. This high-demand career field is used in numerous industries, from insurance and health care to finance, marketing, government, information technology and law enforcement.
 
“We view this as more than just a new major and new faculty positions. We view this as an investment in the future -- your future, our future and the future of this region,” said Chief Analytics Officer Sean Nimm of Sentry Insurance. “We are proud to partner with UWSP, and we look forward to seeing this program continue to thrive.” Nimm spoke at a May 10 endowed chair event at UW-Stevens Point. 
 
Pflughoeft brings 20 years of industry experience to the Department of Computing and New Media Technologies. He was chief analytics officer at MaritzCX and head of marketing sciences at Market Probe. He won corporate innovation awards for solving client problems with advanced data science techniques. He also taught at several universities in Wisconsin and Texas.
 
“The data analytics program at UW-Stevens Point teaches students how to process data quickly and informatively for decision makers. The use of such data has been shown to improve the accuracy and outcomes of decisions,” Pflughoeft said. Curriculum focuses on an array of problems with specific emphasis on business issues such as predicting customer attrition, maximizing customer loyalty and increasing sales.
 
Rodriguez has extensive experience in analytics, knowledge and risk management in the insurance and banking industry. He previously taught analytics at Telfer School of Management at Ottawa University and at other universities and businesses in Canada, the United States and Columbia. Author of six books in analytics, he created a permanent Think-Tank in Analytics in Ottawa, and chaired the International Conference in Analytics ICAS.
An endowed faculty position is academic honor and an enduring tribute to the donor. 
 
Sentry leaders were the inspiration and guiding light as discussions progressed to develop a data analytics major, Chancellor Bernie Patterson said. “You pushed us to dream of a program partnership that brings economic benefit to our entire region.”
 
“As the world of data analytics grows, we are excited to approach this opportunity together through a program that is at the leading edge of the industry,” Nimm of Sentry said. “We are hopeful this program will encourage new opportunities for students at UW-Stevens Point. We are hopeful we can make a difference in the lives of aspiring bright minds to go on to accomplish great things.”
 
The program is already exceeding expectations and will meet growing industry needs in Wisconsin and beyond, Patterson said. For more information about this program, see www.uwsp.edu/dataanalytics.