A-Plus in Risk Management
James Colorado Robertson, assistant director of risk management at Louisiana State University, bleeds his alma mater’s colors, purple and gold.
The fighting Tiger enrolled at LSU as an undergraduate student in 2003 and never left.
He obtained two degrees there, was hired to create the university’s enterprise risk management plan before he graduated and helped build the first stand-alone public higher education insurance program in Louisiana in 25 years.
“Risk management finds you,” Robertson said. “I don’t think you find risk management.”
When he became an LSU employee, new legislation allowed the university to self-insure for the first time in 25 years.
Insurance autonomy would reduce costs so the college could reinvest its savings to benefit its 31,000 students. But the process was harder and filled with more challenges than anyone predicted, including approval and certification from the five different state offices.
Extensive negotiations, more than 1,200 pages of plans, and the daunting task of placing and creating the many contractual arrangements that other insureds take for granted: brokerage service, third party administration, loss control services, insurance market relationships and many more.
Workers’ compensation was also newly written to insure more than 13,000 full-time employees.
Robertson also drafted an entirely new set of risk management policies for LSU and introduced a Total Cost of Risk Model to demonstrate the value of investment in risk management.
“He wants LSU to be empowered by risk management,” said Nancy Sylvester, managing partner, public sector at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., who has worked with Robertson for about five years.
“Every day I go to work, I take the passion and thankfulness for what LSU has given me and I try to return that by doing the best job I can do in risk management.” — James Colorado Robertson, assistant director, risk management, Louisiana State University
“I don’t want you to think I was out there doing this alone,” Robertson said. “If it wasn’t for the vision and commitment our senior leadership provided, I don’t think any of this would have been possible.”
“Colorado has been a vital component in the development and success of LSU risk management,” said Brian T. Nichols, associate vice president for administration and IT, and CIO at LSU. “I believe it is this commitment and passion that has allowed Colorado to lead some of the most innovative improvements to the risk management program at LSU.”
Last year, Robertson led the effort to place the first foreign travel policy for LSU employees while also driving improvements to foreign casualty and response programs.
It was a timely move that came into play this summer when four LSU students were in Nice, France, celebrating Bastille Day and a terrorist plowed a truck into crowded streets killing 84. The students were unharmed, but the new protocol enabled LSU to contact them immediately and offer counseling if needed.
“Every day I go to work, I take the passion and thankfulness for what LSU has given me and I try to return that by doing the best job I can do in risk management.” &