Joe Vogl and Mary, his wife

Joe Vogl and Mary, his wife, keep busy in retirement but continue to work on behalf of UMSL. Joe Vogl earned a bachelor's degree in education at the university in 1975. He retired from Towers Watson, a global risk and financial management company, last year. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Armed with a passion for mathematics and a Curators Scholarship, Joe Vogl zipped through 120 credit hours in three years at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. His math professors nurtured his enthusiasm, and when it came time to graduate in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in education, Vogl looked toward a career assessing risk in the discipline of actuarial science, rather than teaching math.

“I had no idea what an actuary did in those days,” Vogl says. “I just knew I loved math. Looking back, I don’t think I could have gotten a better education than the one I received at UMSL.”

Vogl retired last year from Towers Watson, a global risk and financial management company. Remembering his time as a student at UMSL, Vogl and Mary, his wife, established the Joseph M. and Mary A. Vogl Scholarship in Mathematics, a need-based monetary award for undergraduate math majors at the university.

“There is nothing more rewarding than attending a scholar- ship reception and sitting down with the students who are benefitting from your scholarship,” Joe Vogl says.

The son of a carpenter and the first in his family to attend college, he grew up in Jefferson County, Mo., and married his neighbor and high school sweetheart Mary Mateka during spring break in 1975. They have two children and three grand- children. Their son is studying secondary education at UMSL.

In 1976, Joe Vogl landed a job at William M. Mercer Inc., a large human resource company. He consulted with private companies and governmental agencies on employee pensions, retirement and health-care benefits. He moved to Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby (now Towers Watson) in 1985 and worked with some of the St. Louis area’s top employers and their employee benefit systems.

Actuaries are experts at using math to evaluate the likelihood of future events and quantify anticipated outcomes so losses can be minimized. Career advancement involves hundreds of hours of study and passing a series of national exams. Vogl attained the rank of Fellow in the Society of Actuaries, and in 1986, he earned a master’s degree in math from Saint Louis University.

Vogl credits a “good ear” for his long, successful career as an actuary.

“As a consultant, you need to be a good listener,” he says. “It’s not how much you know, but how much the client can get out of what you know that matters.”

Vogl’s avid quest for knowledge led him to study religion in the 1980s. He and a small group of friends started a non-denominational Christian church without clergy. He taught himself ancient Greek and studied Hebrew at Concordia Seminary in Clayton, Mo., to better understand early biblical writings.

Joe and Mary Vogl say they’re enjoying retirement. They play golf and spend time with their grandchildren.

UMSL is still part of their lives. In addition to their scholarship, Joe Vogl served on the Chancellor’s Council from 1999 to 2005 and is the chair of the Arts and Sciences Leadership Council. He won the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005.

“[Being involved] is tremendously encouraging,” Joe Vogl says, “We’re glad we can help.”

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