By Mike Clemens ’15
“Students are working with real money,” said Eric Girard, Ph.D., professor of finance and manager of the Bjorklund Fund. “It is high stakes, but also instructional.”
The Bjorklund Fund began when Ron ’85 and Cathy ’85 Bjorklund donated $50,000 to their alma mater. “This seemed like the perfect way for Cathy and I to give back to Siena, and at the same time, honor the memory of my brother David,” Bjorklund said.
In the following year, the Bjorklund Fund’s initial size increased to $100,000 with gifts from other donors. At that point, the College decided to create a course where students could manage and grow the fund.
The course, called Student Management, is a full-year class taught by Girard. “Students make all recommendations as to what stocks we buy and which ones we sell,” Girard said. “They are responsible for evaluating information from a variety of sources and building a case for the stock they have chosen. After this is complete, the class has to vote on all final decisions.”
Although this seems like a lot of pressure for undergraduates, their success in such a short time has been tremendous. At the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year the Bjorklund Fund had reached $200,000, doubling in size in just over six years. “What these students have been able to do is incredible,” Girard said. “To experience this kind of growth, especially during one of the worst economic situations in U.S. history, is truly an accomplishment.”
Their success with the Bjorklund Fund makes Siena College student commodities worth investing in down the road.