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Students at Winona State University are participating in the real financial world through the Student Investment Program, funded by the WSU Foundation and its donors.

Since the fall of 2009, the Foundation has set aside a portion of unrestricted gifts to support the program, which is associated with the Finance 422 class.

Students enrolled in the course form groups that research funds in the Russell 2000 fund index and research and present their funds to the Foundation. After careful consideration and evaluation of the presentations by the Trustees, the Foundation announces which groups were successful in their pitches.

Throughout the entire investment, students watch the funds’ performance through their investment portfolios.

Initiated in 2010 by WSU Foundation Trustee and award-winning financial manager Mike Arnold as a way of getting students more involved in finance, the fund has doubled since inception, according to Director of University Advancement Finance & WSU Foundation Controller Phil Sonnenberg.

Sonnenberg said the initial investment by the Foundation was $100,000, but since then the return rate of investments has been at 95 percent.

The money earned from the program stays invested in the WSU Foundation to continue support for Finance 422, plus scholarships and the new Finance 480 class, an independent study in which students follow the stocks in WSU’s portfolio and give recommendations to buy, hold or sell, as well as analyze investment programs from other schools and give the WSU Foundation recommendations for improvement.

The students who participate gain valuable experience in investing, said Hamid Akbari, Dean of the College of Business.

“They are learning real life skills,” Akbari said. “After graduation, they can go out into the professional world and contribute at a high level.”

WSU Foundation Assistant Jennifer Hoffman said the Foundation believes in the program and in students’ skills.

“The most unique elements in the student investment program are real-life experience and working with the WSU Foundation Trustees, who are industry leaders,” Hoffman said.

For more information, contact the WSU Foundation at 507-457-5020 or email wsufoundation@winona.edu.

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Brett Burger

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