Turning students into investors

Student Investment Fund

Student Investment Fund students Lacey Cruikshank, Hayden Nilson, Jamie Boyle, Stefan Hajdukovich, Tracy Reeves and Alec Hajdukovich visit New York City in spring 2016. Photo by Phil Younker

A quarter-century ago, the University of Alaska Foundation made an uncommon show of faith in a group of untested business students: It provided them with a $100,000 fund to invest in the stock market.

UA’s charitable foundation made that unrestricted gift from private donations to the UAF School of Management in 1991, giving students the rare opportunity to merge economic theory with real-world financial stakes. Students in UAF’s Student Investment Fund course have been responsible for the portfolio ever since, searching the market each year for promising stocks and undervalued gems.

The fund has more than delivered on its initial promise. After years of steady gains, its value surpassed $1 million in 2015.

In the upper-division business course, students gain real-world experience learning the principles of stock valuation and selecting investments. They’re responsible for the day-to-day management of the portfolio, using a 60-point scoring model to determine which stocks to purchase.

Real investment dollars have not only allowed students to acquire a more complex understanding of investment concepts but also benefitted other UAF students in financial need. Since its inception, the fund’s earnings have provided more than $75,000 in scholarships and helped more than 50 UAF students.

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