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Students to manage $500,000 foundation portfolio

Jan. 29, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A select group of Western Michigan University students has been hired to manage a $500,000 portfolio of WMU Foundation funds.

The group will act as the large cap manager of the portfolio. Members of the student-managed investment fund competed for the opportunity by enrolling in an upper level course in the WMU Department of Finance and Commercial Law in the Haworth College of Business.

"This hands-on learning approach not only provides students with opportunities to learn about market mechanics and gain familiarity with research reports, but actually lets them direct the fiduciary management of investment assets," says Dr. Judy Swisher, chair of the department. "This opportunity better prepares WMU students for investment careers."

Students will manage the portfolio under the guidance of Len Harrison, a principal at LVM Capital and a Chartered Financial Analyst, who is teaching the class. Harrison joined LVM Capital in1990 and holds both bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration from WMU. He has more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry and specializes in portfolio management and client service.

"The student-managed fund is a tremendous opportunity for the students and will prove equally beneficial for the University and department of finance as this unique opportunity becomes widely known," Harrison says.

The students will research investments using a fundamental approach, making recommendations to buy, sell or hold. They will present the research to their classmates, their professor, the Investment Advisory Committee consisting of professors and donors, and the WMU Foundation Investment Committee. Decisions to buy, sell, or hold will be made by a vote of the students, and fund performance will be reported each semester.

Admission to the course is by application and limited to 15 students to ensure active participation by all students. Performance in previous coursework is considered for admission, and students agree to register for at least two subsequent semesters.

The student managed investment fund program provides students with an invaluable, experiential approach to learning, administrators say.

"We are working to raise an additional $500,000 to increase the fund to $1 million allowing students to invest in other asset classes," Swisher says. "We hope to eventually develop a financial trading room that will house advanced investment software and research services to significantly enhance the experience for students."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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