A new course in wealth management brings together 16 high-achieving students this fall with global investment professionals for a one-of-a-kind experiential learning experience at the College of Business. Doug Waggoner, ’75 and ’77, envisioned the Investors with Purpose program and pitched the idea to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, based on taking risks and trying new things during his own successful career in finance and investment management.
Waggoner’s desire to impact the future of his field inspired him to join forces with his alma mater, where he served in various capacities, including as a member of the Department of Finance Advisory Board at the college. He also helped make the new program possible through funding on behalf of the Douglas and Karin Waggoner Family Foundation.
“Our goal is to provide students with the skills and knowledge of asset management with real-world experiences. Industry leaders are excited to be a part of this program, and the students, the College of Business and the future of asset management will all benefit,” said Waggoner, who worked for Ford Motor Company, Rockwell International and several asset management firms, including 25 years as a senior leader and managing director at BlackRock.
While many business schools host guest speakers, the Investors with Purpose program brings business leaders into the classroom, as well as develops community between professionals and students through a mentorship component. Waggoner believes these connections formed through the program will help students develop a great career.
“I understand how hard it might be for students to break into this industry,” he said. “I didn’t really have that kind of mentor growing up, but I made it by working hard and not being afraid of taking a risk. Diligence and perseverance are traits Nebraska’s students have. This program and its mentors can help build their confidence in taking risks and putting yourself out there.”
For one or more of these students, the program will also provide a foot in the door via a paid investment internship with the University of Nebraska Foundation. Through career advising, mentorship and internship opportunity, the Investors with Purpose program strengthens Nebraska as a continued leader in creating future business leaders.
“When people think of the University of Nebraska, one alumnus who always jumps out is Warren Buffett,” said Dr. Richard DeFusco, professor and chair of the Department of Finance. “This program positions us to help launch the career of the next Warren Buffetts by letting students understand what it means to take risks and not be afraid to fail. Financial investment is more than just classroom theories, it’s the day-to-day connections you make working with others in the profession. That’s an enormous game changer we’re introducing for our finance students.”
Waggoner’s vision involved industry leaders traveling to campus to discuss topics, such as FinTech, financial asset alternatives like hedge funds and regulatory issues. After class, they would continue discussions over dinner with students. Adjustments were made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a small class, we will still meet in person, but our experts may ‘Zoom in’ instead of traveling to campus. We’ve gotten creative this semester and appreciate Doug’s and our mentors’ commitment to build connections with our students and the experiential learning opportunity they’ll provide,” DeFusco said.
For junior finance major Khiana Blizek, she sees the program as a way to help launch her career in investment banking.
“I’m excited to learn about asset management on a much deeper level. I had to take advantage of an opportunity like this because it may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Reading about someone and their story is one thing, but being able to hear it from these high caliber leaders themselves and to ask them questions is a whole other ball game,” the Lincoln, Nebraska, native said.
To learn more about the Department of Finance and the finance major, visit: https://business.unl.edu/finance