College Park, Md. November 7, 2006 With the opening bell of the markets today, 10 undergraduate students majoring in finance at the University of Marylands Robert H. Smith School continued their yearlong challenge of managing the recently launched $50,000 Lemma Senbet Fund. The fund named for an esteemed Smith finance professor for his contributions to the school is one segment of the Undergraduate Fellows Program, an initiative launched this fall that offers students participation in small-scale specialized academic concentrations, or tracks, that provide hands-on experience and close interaction with faculty, alumni, peers and companies.
The limited-enrollment Senbet Fund, one of several specialty tracks available to upperclassmen in the fellows program, gives students the chance to research companies and manage and invest money from the schools endowment fund. The fund managers goal is to outperform the S&P 500 index, though its equally important that each member learns the processes by which investment decisions are made in a professional asset-management setting. The fund will pay a 5 percent dividend to the Deans Office each year.
The Lemma Senbet Fund is an innovative and rare opportunity for undergraduate students to make real investment decisions and manage real money, said Howard Frank, dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business. The fund gives our top students the chance to apply what theyve learned in their finance classes to actual investment decisions. This program, and several others in our Undergraduate Fellows Program, gives Smith students a competitive edge in the job market and prepares them to be business leaders with analytical skills and hands-on experience.
The program is modeled after the Smith Schools successful Mayer Fund, a $1.2 million portfolio managed by full-time MBA students that beat the S&P 500 by 9 percent last year.
In a course that meets twice per week for two hours in both the fall and spring semesters, students gain unparalleled financial knowledge and skills, including asset management exposure and financial modeling skills. They develop skills using and applying tools in the Smith Schools Financial Markets Lab and develop leadership skills, all of which are particularly attractive to potential employers.
Participating students are assigned roles in operating the fund, either as portfolio managers or equity analysts specializing in an area such as technology, health care or telecommunications.
MBA students managing the Mayer Fund helped select the 10 Senbet Fund managers this year, based on several criteria including analytical abilities and communication skills, but in the future, current undergraduate fund members will play a part in selecting their successors.
About the Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research for the digital economy. One of 13 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, Executive MBA, Executive MS, PhD, and non-degree executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its programs in learning locations on four continents including North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
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