School of Business: Investment and Service-Learning Lab Grand Opening
September 11, 2006
On the afternoon of September 8, the School of Business at Southern Utah University conducted the grand opening of its new Investment and Service Learning Laboratory.
Serving a dual purpose, the investment lab is where students in the Finance and Master of Business Administration programs will each manage a $250,000 portfolio, and where students will also be able to apply their business skills learned in the classroom to real-world business problem solutions through service-learning.
The Lab has been named in honor of SUU Professor Steve Harrop, who has more than 25 years of portfolio management experience and has earned 24 Lipper Awards. Professor Harrop oversees the student portfolio management project. Students are responsible for selecting the type of investment portfolio and appropriate benchmarks, researching appropriate investments and then executing the trades. The students use the financial tools provided to them in their course of study to manage investments in the pressure cooker environment of portfolio management. They have access to computer work stations with dual monitors, research software and large LCD displays of current market conditions to make their investment decisions. Last semester, the students achieved a gain of $8,377.10 in the four months of the Spring semester which would be an annualized return of just over 10 percent.
"The investments class has been one of the most influential classes I have taken at SUU," senior Finance major, Jeremy Johnson, states. "The knowledge that I gained. . and the practical experience in investments. . .is unsurpassed. There is no substitute for real life experience and that is exactly what you get in this class."
Some samples of service-learning (see http://www.suu.edu/ad/pr/news/archives/viewarticle.aspx?id=273)
which will be conducted through the Lab include Accounting students who, in the Spring, prepare tax forms for Iron County community members, for free. Future service-learning opportunities will include students conducting market research consulting services to small businesses and not-for-profit organizations. They will develop marketing plans under the guidance of Marketing faculty. The Small Business Development Center will partner with the Lab to facilitate Business students to meet with small businesses and entrepreneurs to provide free research and consulting.
Such an applied learning environment is a hallmark of SUU's School of Business. A review team from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation agency recently cited the School for its practitioner- and industry-oriented curricula and "the fact that most faculty members bring practical experience, appropriate academic credentials to the learning environment." (see http://www.suu.edu/ad/pr/news/archives/viewarticle.aspx?id=301) The School's new Lab only allows it to move even further in this same progressive direction.
The Lab was built with a combination of student course fees and a generous donation from SUU alumnus, Garrett Gunderson, a founding partner of the company, Engenuity. Garrett graduated from SUU's Finance program in 2002. He visited with students after the ribbon-cutting and naming of the Lab in the Sharwan Smith Center Theatre, reminiscing of his time at SUU and sharing some of his experiences since entering the business world.