Marketable Skills


by Karl Lang

A student-run class will help international students at Simpson in the coming years through money made on the stock market.

The Eberhart Student Investment Fund, which is also known as Economics 338, will help provide financial assistance to students in a foreign country or help Simpson students studying aboard.

Professor of Economics Frank Colella, who teaches the class, said the course has two purposes.

“[The first is] for students to invest real money in the markets, and then secondly, once the fund is able to reliably generate funds on a yearly basis out of our profits, to start funding scholarships for international students,” Colella said.

E. Kingman Eberhart brought the idea for the program to Colella’s attention in the 1980s and provided the initial funding of $5,000 to start it. Colella has been its overseer since then.

The original program was a club, not a class, but as interest grew, Colella and others decided to make it a class and offer a prerequisite class to help prepare students.

This became the Economics 337 class – Investments and Security Markets.

“After awhile, as the amount of money built up, we decided that the best thing to do is require a ‘how to invest’ course first of everybody,” Colella said. “Then, after you finish with that course, you can get involved with this program.”

According to Colella, the time is coming to start dealing out the scholarships, but there is still more work to do.

“Primarily, we focus on building the principle of the fund, so we can make additional scholarships of some size, and we are getting close to where we might be able to do that,” Colella said. “Assuming the trend keeps growing, we’ll be approaching the board of trustees to talk to them about doing some moderate scholarships at first. I’ll be retiring in three more years, and would like to see them start it before I retire.”

The students have control over the portfolio, pitching ideas to each other to vote on for which stocks to buy and which stocks to sell.

Colella said he’s responsible for making phone calls to the broker’s office and Adam Voight, the assistant vice president for business services, keeps track of the program’s finances, but that’s their only involvement.

“All of the other research and decisions are made by the students,” Colella said.

Students currently taking the class said the experience could benefit students in all fields, not just business-related fields.

Senior Andrew Bergman said the class is very important to students if they want to learn about financial matters.

“I think they [the classes] are extremely important, not just for somebody [who’s] looking for a career in investing, but for gaining a basic knowledge of retirement investments, financial planning and stuff like that that you will need to go through as you get older,” Bergman said.

Currently, the companies the students invest in range from technologies, like Kyocera Corp., to retailers like Bed, Bath and Beyond. The portfolio is valued at more than $250,000.

Dealing with that kind of money can make many people cringe, especially when it’s not their own.

“I was nervous at first,” senior James Schelling said. “But after a while, though, the classmates help to make you feel comfortable, and it becomes much more relaxed.”

Bergman echoes Schelling’s initial feelings of apprehension.

“The more you deal with it [the risk involved], the more you become accepting, you know, of the days you check it and notice you lost $5,000 or something,” Bergman said. “But you kind of understand that there are going to be days like that, and you’re going to have to trust yourself that you’ve made good decisions and did your research, and that it will come around.”