May 15, 2020
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Dear Friends of the Department of Finance, 

As I write this letter, we are now embarking on a journey of all classes being delivered online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are taking all precautions to keep our faculty, staff and students safe yet still ensure that they can finish the semester in all of their classes and graduate if they are seniors.  I am proud to say that this transition was not difficult for the Department of Finance where we have many of faculty who are proficient in teaching online.  

Up until the unexpected impact of the COVID-19, it has been an exciting time for the Finance Department at the Fox School. 

In 2019, the Fisher Shain Center for Financial Services opened, our new center that will focus on industry-related research, curriculum development, and networking with the banking community. Wall Street Day and FPA Career Day were held, and the Real Estate Department, led by David Wilk, hosted their first symposium, Real Estate Asset Optimization for Social Impact at the new Comcast Technology Center. 

We also welcomed three new faculty members, Ming Fang, Thomas Intoccia and Thomas Kenny. These professionals bring with them decades of expertise in the financial sector and will help improve our students’ readiness to enter the job market. 

Our specialized master’s programs in finance, Financial Analysis and Quantitative Finance & Risk Management continues to evolve as well. With the addition of Professor Fang, we have added courses in data science and machine learning and will be including data science coverage throughout the program including relevant cases in other courses. 

The Owl Fund currently (January 2019) has almost $700,000 under management and outperformed the S&P 500 in 2019. Internships and job placements continue to improve for the Owl Fund with current May graduates headed to J.P. Morgan, Guggenheim, Credit Suisse, RBC, Macquarie, Vanguard, Comcast, MUFG, LBC Credit Partners and Bryn Mawr Trust. The list of internships is just as impressive: Deutsche Bank, Barclays, MUFG, UBS, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, TD Bank. The earnings for the Owl Fund provide one of the largest individual scholarships in the Fox School, the Jay Lamont Scholarship in Economics, Finance and Real Estate, which was awarded to Jared Swansen and  Kyle Wenclawiak for this current academic year. 

Also in 2019, Howard Brown, a finance undergraduate alumnus, was presented with the Fox Excellence in Alumni Achievement award at the Musser Awards for Excellence in Leadership.  In addition, Professor Steve Casper was presented with the Musser Award for Excellence in Service and Professor Lalitha Naveen with the Musser Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

And the future is not lacking in exciting opportunities! In February, we will be presenting a proposal to establish the Diamond Bond Fund, a student-run fixed income fund, to the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees. This semester we are piloting a new course that will be the platform to run the bond fund. The Charles Schwab Foundation gave another generous gift to the department, this time to expand the financial planning program’s online and remote capabilities. The Charles Schwab Interactive Financial Classroom provides state-of-the-art software that allows the instructor to move applications around the screen by hand and allows students to share their work in-person or remotely. The ribbon-cutting for the innovative new classroom is March 19th. 

And finally, we will be seeking School approval for the Fox Finance Fellow program that will be a two-semester professional development program for academically, high achieving sophomore Finance majors to better prepare them for internships prior to beginning classes in their major.