Pacific students realize true payoff of hands-on experience

Eberhardt School of Business students visit NASDAQ during a spring trip to New York in 2017.

Members of the Eberhardt School of Business Student Invest Fund visit NASDAQ during a spring trip to New York in 2017.

“It’s real money, it’s real investments, it’s real results, it’s real hands-on experience and that leads to real and deep learning." - Regent Rick Fleming

University of the Pacific’s student-managed investment fund has paid big dividends to hundreds of its members—all while staying true to the mission of its sponsor and the university’s cornerstone of providing a rich student-centered education.

Pacific’s Eberhardt School of Business established the Student Investment Fund in 2007 thanks to the generosity and vision of the late Bank of Stockton President and CEO Doug Eberhardt ’59. Eberhardt contributed a $1 million endowment, which along with a portion from the university’s endowment fund, created a true student-managed portfolio that invests real money to provide students with hands-on experience.

Since its creation, the Student Investment Fund has flourished into the third-largest student-run fund in the western United States, and on many occasions, it has outperformed both the Russell Midcap Index benchmark and the S&P 500.

“When I was young, I only wish someone had let me have the chance to invest money and had a class in it,” Eberhardt told the publication in 2018. “There are classes that may teach you about all kinds of investments, but they don’t teach you about how to invest.”

The Student Investment Fund is a two-semester class open to undergraduate business students. The student investors conduct research, analyze potential investments, learn portfolio management and write reports. And while Professor Benjamin Carlston provides guidance and oversees the program, the students have ownership of the decisions on how to invest the money.

The Student Investment Fund drew Seattle native Marissa Carpenter ’21 to Pacific. Carpenter, along with Mariana Duarte, was the co-chief executive officer of the Student Investment Fund during the spring semester and oversaw a 14-member team.

“It’s one of the main reasons that attracted me to Pacific,” said Carpenter, a business administration major and pre-law minor. “Only 2% of business schools have a student investment fund and I thought it was very cool that it offers hands-on experience with real money.”

Unlike the majority of undergraduate programs, the Student Investment Fund has a dedicated trading room and access to Bloomberg trading terminals that allows students to manage an investment portfolio now worth nearly $4 million—a significant growth from its $1.3 million start 14 years ago—and in turn immerses them in the world of investing.

Pacific regent Richard Fleming, who was the vice president and chief financial officer of USG Corporations before his retirement in 2012, lauded the success of the program and Eberhardt’s foresight. 

“It’s real money, it’s real investments, it’s real results, it’s real hands-on experience and that leads to real and deep learning,” said Fleming, who is chair of Pacific’s endowment investment committee. “It’s the overall vision, purpose and mission of the fund.”

“The students really do learn the elements of money management and the understanding of risks, and that is a huge part of their learning process.”

Students participating in the Student Investment Fund are held accountable and give presentations before the Board of Regents and the members of the Eberhardt family, as well as produce a report detailing their investment activities that is audited by an independent accounting firm.

Another unique benefit is the commitment to Eberhardt’s wish to see a portion of the annual earnings support programs at Pacific important to Eberhardt: the water polo team, the speech-language pathology program and the Eberhardt School of Business. Pacific’s endowment also receives an annual distribution from its investment. Since the fund has been in place, it has distributed $576,000 to the endowment and given back $746,000 to the university programs. This year, it contributed $140,000 combined to the endowment and programs.

Philanthropy, providing hands-on experiential learning and being inclusive by letting all students participate were important to Doug Eberhardt and the Eberhardt family when the program was designed, said Regent Mary-Elizabeth Eberhardt.

“He thought young people needed to be taught the act of giving back and how important it is to support what you believe in,” she said. “We are all very proud of that program and I think my uncle, if he was here, would be extremely excited to see how it’s grown.”

Aside from the in-depth learning, students are offered a wealth of networking opportunities. They travel to New York for the Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education Forum, one of the largest student-managed investment fund conferences worldwide, and while there meet with industry leaders and Pacific alumni. The Student Investment Fund also provides opportunities for training, notable guest speakers and field trips.

“The Student Investment Fund has probably been one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had at Pacific,” Carpenter said. “There are not many places that you can get this experience and it is now one of the main talking points on my resume.”