Eller College and UA Foundation Establish Don Seeley Fund for Excellence in Finance
Retiring finance instructor pioneered class in which students manage a portion of the UA Foundation endowment.
TUCSON, Ariz. – May 14, 2010 – At a breakfast last week honoring the accomplishments of Don Seeley, retiring director of the Applied Portfolio Management Program at the Eller College of Management, the Department of Finance and the University of Arizona Foundation jointly announced a new endowment in his name.
The Don Seeley Fund for Excellence in Finance will support research and teaching in the Department. Eller College dean Paul Portney contributed a leading gift of $5,000 at the breakfast, which was attended by Seeley’s current and former students, many of whom traveled to Tucson to pay tribute to their mentor.
“I met Don ten years ago, as he was retiring from a successful career in the business world,” said Christopher Lamoureux, head of the Department of Finance and the Diamond Professor of Finance. “At that first meeting it was clear that Don is extraordinary — both in his capabilities and his dedication and willingness to help young people.”
Together, Seeley and Lamoureux conceived and designed a course in which students would manage an actual investment portfolio. For the last ten years, the resulting Applied Portfolio Management class has managed a portion of the UA Foundation endowment, an investment portfolio that provides annual income for areas such as scholarships, research, and faculty support.
Over its ten-year life, the student-managed portfolio has beaten its benchmark by 343 basis points per year. The portfolio's average annual return since inception is 5.93%, as compared to the 2.50% return on the benchmark: 70% S&P 500, 30% Barclay's Aggregate Bond Index.
"What I could not have imagined when conceiving this class was how rich a learning environment it would become," Lamoureux said. "Master's students actually manage teams of undergraduate students — the former gaining critical managerial skills under Don's guidance, while the latter learn how to work in a professional atmosphere."
The rich classroom learning environment Seeley created won him a student-voted faculty mentor award in 2007. In addition to his teaching contributions, Seeley served on the UA’s investment committee and helped organize the Department of Finance Advisory Board, of which he served as chair for many years.
"Despite the great teaching Don has given us for ten years, and despite the great returns his students have generated for the Foundation, Don has never let us pay him a cent,” added Portney. “If that's not the epitome of volunteer leadership, I don't know what is."
Seeley came to the UA in 2000, after retiring from Chicago-based marketing firm True North Communication,s Inc., for which he served as vice chairman and CFO. Over the course of his career, he served in leadership roles with Alexander & Alexander Services, Inc. and its consulting division The Alexander Consulting Group, United Airlines, G.D. Searle & Co., and Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. He holds undergraduate and MBA degrees from the University of Colorado and is a CFA.
"I will miss him and I want to express gratitude on behalf of hundreds of students and a department that is so much richer for the generous gift of his time," Lamoureux said.
For more information, or to contribute to the fund, please visit uafoundation.org.
The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program #12 among public business schools and two of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship and MIS. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program #48 in the U.S. The College is among the leaders of business schools generating grant funds for research. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers the 25th ranked Evening MBA program, the Eller Executive MBA and the Online MBA. The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,000 undergraduate and 600 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, and a satellite campus in Phoenix.
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management
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