LEE COUNTY — A unique class at Florida Gulf Coast University gives students hundreds of thousands of dollars of real money to manage.
The money comes out of the University’s endowment, and the students are asked to use it to buy and sell stocks and bonds.
“This is all very real. So you know, as students, and even as professors, we are making real decisions that have real consequences," said graduate student Doug Smith, who is taking the class this semester.
Smith and his peers are given the autonomy to manage the Eagle Fund on their own as part of the class, under the guidance of professors like Ronald Mushock.
"We organize the students into teams. So there will be a consumer cyclical team, a technology team, an industrial team, and they’ll work together to figure out what stocks to buy, hold, and sell," said Mushock.
Economics Department Chair Shelton Weeks said, despite the risk, the students have turned a profit.
"When we started this, the students were given $200,000, and we’ve grown that over the years, and now the total value of the three portfolios they’re managing is about $800,000," said Weeks.
So unlike a lot of their peers, the students in the class can say they’ve already successfully managed serious money. Professional investor Tom Moran works with the class. He said that experience makes a difference.
"I’ve been very impressed with the caliber and the quality of the students we’ve met. That’s why we’ve made them job offers. Almost half of the new hires have been from FGCU in the last couple of years," said Moran.
That’s the kind of opportunity Smith hopes to take advantage of.
"To speak with employers about, saying this is something that I did, and to be able to go with them with performance metrics stating sectors that I was involved in, it’s priceless," said Smith.
The Eagle Fund is now in its 14th year at FGCU. In addition to investing real money, the class also offers students the opportunity to use the Bloomberg Terminal, a technology used in the industry to research publicly-traded companies.