In Memoriam: Marc Goovaerts

27 February 2018

Was it his vitality and charm, his Flemish accent, or the way he assailed us with his knowledge and ideas? The new professor who made his appearance at the University of Amsterdam in 1984 brought energy to the lecture hall.

By Dr Angela van Heerwaarden (AAG)

He graduated cum laude twice, obtained his doctorate cum laude and introduced ideas from physics to the actuarial claims profession. I quickly grew to love this professor, his erudition, his charisma and his field of study. When I graduated, a doctoral position opened up and for a few years I was a member of the team with Marc and Rob Kaas.

Prof. Marc Goovaerts, who divided his time between Leuven and Amsterdam from 1984 to 2011, raised the UvA’s actuarial claims education to among the best in the world. His CV lists 11 books, countless conference volumes, and more than 100 academic articles. He was also an editor for important academic journals, organiser of conferences and a winner of various awards. He was proud of his academic family tree which now numbers almost 40 descendants and continues to grow. In Amsterdam he supervised Rob Kaas, Risto Heijmans, Henk Wolthuis, Angela van Heerwaarden, Bart Kling, Dennis Dannenburg, Jaap Spreeuw and Roger Laeven. He was also Honorary Supervisor for Hans Bühlmann in Amsterdam and he received an honorary doctorate in Ankara.

What has he contributed to our profession? In the 80s he introduced modern techniques such as credibility, ruin theory, pricing models, and application of the APL programming language. He subsequently conducted considerable research into risk measures, stochastic dependency, capital models and ALM techniques. Marc had a very broad range of interests and participated in many research groups. He was also sometimes involved in disputes, but when he was granted emeritus status, many of his friends in academia attended the ‘Memorable Actuarial Research Conference' (MARC) in 2011.

Marc Goovaerts was a role model for me and this led to a love for extreme risks and how they are modelled. He also taught me that research results increase exponentially over time, so after struggling for a few years, you’ll be able to write your thesis in six months. Turned out he was right.

(Marc Goovaerts passed away on 18 February 2018 at the age of 71. His funeral service was held on Saturday, 24 February.)

Published by  Economics and Business