Meet the Candidates - David Skurnick

FCAS - November 1971
ACAS - May 1970

Candidate Information

Biographical Information

Education

B.S. Math, University of Chicago
M.A. Math, University of California, Berkeley
Ph.C. Math, University of California, Berkeley

Current Employment

Retired

CAS Activities

CAS Board of Directors, 1988 -1989
CAS Examination Committee 1974- 1981
Vice Chairman CAS Examination Committee 1978 - 1981
Chairman, CAS Examination Committee 1980 – 1981
Committee on Theory of Risk 1983 – 1993
Numerous presentations at various actuarial meetings
CAS Centennial History Subcommittee, Member 2005 - 2007           
ASTIN 2001 Meeting   Chairperson     1998 - 2001    
Membership Survey Task Force Member 1997 - 2001           
Long Range Planning Committee, Member 1992 - 1997        
MIS Task Force, Chairperson 1991 - 1992    
Long Range Planning Committee, Member 1989 - 1990        
Committee on Review of Papers, Member 1998 - 1990         
Syllabus & Examination Committee, Consultant , 1981 - 1985           
Syllabus & Examination Committee, Assistant Chair 1979 - 1981      

CAS Publications

A Survey of Loss Reserving Methods 1974
Credibility in Workmen’s Compensation Ratemaking 1975
The California Table L 1976
Measuring Division Operating Profitability 1985
Multi-line Risk Management 1990

Other Actuarial Organizations

Founder and First President – Casualty Actuaries of the Bay Area (CABA)
President -- Actuaries of Greater New York (CAGNY) 1986 – 1988
Member ASTIN 1975 – 2000

Additional Biographical Information

Employment History

Insurance Company of North America
California Workers Compensation Rating Bureau
Argonaut Insurance Company
F&G Re
Independent Consultant

Awards and Recognitions:

Woodward–Fondiller Prize 1975
Michelbacher Prize 1985
Matthew Rodermund Memorial Service Award 2002

Why do you want to serve on the CAS Board of Directors?

I want the CAS to succeed and grow as an organization that fully addresses the needs and concerns of its entire membership. I’m running for the Board because the CAS leadership has gone a bit off the track. I’m concerned that the failure of several recent Board initiatives indicates that the Board has lost touch with the membership. These failed initiatives include the proposed SOA/CAS merger, the recission of the Ratemaking Principles, and the recent proposal to eliminate CAS VP positions and relegate more authority to CAS Staff. The CAS Board needs to be more transparent. It must find ways to more fully engage the membership in its initiatives and decisions. 

The issue of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was mishandled by the CAS leadership. They adopted a policy without consulting the membership. When they belatedly took a survey to find out what the members actually wanted, they failed to do a full analysis of that survey. A complete analysis would make it clear that CAS policy is not fulfilling member wishes. Although some policy changes were made after that survey, CAS policy is still not in line with member preferences.

In my opinion, the CAS Board of Directors allowed CAS staff to take over too much of the leadership. This is understandable, since actuaries are all busy working at their regular jobs. However, professional actuaries view some issues differently from non-professionals. The Board of Directors needs to make sure than that leadership comes from a professional actuarial point of view.

Greater transparency from the CAS leadership is needed. Minutes of Board meetings must be more complete, so that members will be able to weigh in on actions before they’re taken.

Candidate Issue(s) Identification and Discussion

The policy on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion needs to be fully reviewed and amended in the light of the Survey.  One potential problem is keeping ethnicity records. The CAS leadership says it has no desire for any policies that would treat people differently based on ethnicity.  However, this risk must not be ignored.  Based on exams given in other areas, we can predict that ethnic groups will perform unequally.  Some ethnic groups will outdo other ethnic groups on actuarial exams.  When these number become available, there may be pressure from within the CAS from outside the CAS to have policies that give special preferences to particular ethnic groups.  We are seeing this pattern today in many colleges, special schools, etc.  One common result is instituting policies that discriminate against Asians.  Another common result is watering down admission requirements, explicitly or tacitly.  Either possibility would be disastrous for the CAS.

The best way to protect the CAS going forward would be to stop collecting data on people’s ethnicity or any other personal characteristics.  A “color-blind” policy is in line with Martin Luther King’s famous quote,

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." 

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