14:49 PM

American Family Insurance and the University of Wisconsin-Madison announce creation of David R. Anderson Chair


Chair will oversee new American Family Insurance Data Science Institute.

American Family Insurance and the University of Wisconsin–Madison announced today the creation of the David R. Anderson Chair to direct the newly created American Family Insurance Data Science Institute (DSI). Anderson was the former chair and CEO of American Family Insurance from 2007 until his retirement in 2011.

The announcement was made at an internal leadership meeting at American Family's headquarters. 

The David R. Anderson Chair will be held by the director of the DSI, currently Professor Brian Yandell, who is serving as interim director. The director will lead the institute in both day-to day-and strategic work, and provide guidance on outcomes, current activity and future plans. It will also provide American Family with access to educational, academic research and talent acquisition opportunities.

Anderson had a 36-year career at American Family, including chair and CEO from 2007 - 2011. Anderson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he earned both a bachelor of science degree in finance/marketing and an MBA.

Building on a long history of successful partnerships, American Family Insurance announced a $20 million commitment to the University in April 2019 for creation of the DSI, a collaborative data science network that will advance and develop cutting edge data science methods. It will also fund data-driven research. It will bring together the data science community at UW–Madison and foster new industry partnerships. A portion of the commitment was earmarked to create the chair.

“This distinguished named endowed chair is a true honor that recognizes UW–Madison’s leadership in data science research, and it is a great incentive to continue to attract high-caliber researchers as we grow the data science enterprise at the university,” said Steve Ackerman, UW–Madison interim vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “We are pleased to report that in less than one year, the American Family Insurance Data Science Institute is already opening new opportunities for collaborations in the emerging areas of computational thinking, big data, and artificial intelligence, and we look forward to our continued partnership with American Family.”

“Dave Anderson recognized early on the importance of innovation to better serving our customers, and had a deep commitment to both American Family and the University of Wisconsin–Madison,” said Jack Salzwedel American Family chair and CEO. “The American Family Insurance Data Science Institute will conduct research that will be on the cutting-edge of this rapidly evolving area of the global economy, and one that is also increasingly important to our industry. We’re very pleased to honor Dave in this way.”

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About American Family Insurance
Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance group is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks No. 306 on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, primarily through its exclusive independent contractor agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General and Homesite) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the internet or by phone. Affiliate Main Street America sells insurance products through independent agents and affiliate Ameriprise Auto & Home sells through partners. Web; Facebook; Twitter



About the University of Wisconsin–Madison
Since its founding in 1848, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been a catalyst for the extraordinary. As a public land-grant university and prolific research institution, its students, staff, and faculty members partake in a world-class education and solve real-world problems. The university is home to 45,000 students, hundreds of majors and programs and more than 21,000 faculty and staff across the state. Its faculty and alumni have won 20 Nobel Prizes, 41 Pulitzer Prizes and 10 Academy Awards. A key driver of Wisconsin’s economy, the institution has an operating budget of $3.1 billion, and is ranked in the top ten nationally for research, with $1.21 billion in annual research expenditures. For more information about UW–Madison, visit

Additional media contact:
Amy Achter, Managing Director, Office of Business Engagement