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TTU News

Tennessee Tech University’s director of MBA studies has been named the L. O. (Buzz) Heidtke Professor of Finance in the College of Business.

Bob Wood follows Deryl Martin to become only the second person to hold the professorship since its creation in 2003. Both are professors of finance in the economics, finance and marketing department of the university’s College of Business.

As the Heidtke Professor of Finance, it will be Wood’s responsibility to provide expert guidance to undergraduate and graduate students who will be managing a portfolio of three investment funds totaling more than $750,000.

Those funds are the TVA Investment Challenge Portfolio (which is a large-cap equity fund), the Heidtke micro-cap equity portfolio and the Tommy Lynn Endowment, a diversified equity portfolio.

“Many classes emphasize theory over application, but this is one situation that lets the students directly apply the concepts they’ve learned in other classes,” he said. “It’s designed to give them the opportunity to work in a real world environment.”

The professorship was created when Heidtke — a Nashville hedge fund manager and TTU alumnus — donated $100,000 to be placed in a micro-cap equity portfolio managed by TTU undergraduate business students.

Micro-cap stocks are relatively small companies that have a market capitalization of less than $100 million. Heidtke got the idea after TTU students posted a 153 percent return on their TVA Investment Challenge fund, a large-cap stock portfolio.

“Each one of these funds gives students a different perspective of the stock market, and a different kind of strategy is required in order to successfully invest in each one,” said Mark Stephens, chairperson of the economics, finance and marketing department at TTU.

As a former Dean Witter broker, Wood has direct experience with the stock market and with investing in these types of assets.

“There’s a high level of responsibility that comes with advising the students who manage these funds,” he said. “I want to insure that they get the kind of positive experience that will benefit their future careers. Therefore, I plan to be even more prudent with these funds than I would be with my own personal investment portfolio.”

For the first time, beginning in the fall semester 2007, Wood will involve the university’s distance MBA students in the fund management process.

He will also be directly involved with the development, design and implementation of the College of Business’ Eagle Financial Investments Center, a planned financial trading lab that will make TTU’s College of Business look a little bit more like a Wall Street brokerage house.

A fundraising campaign for the center officially kicked off last August, and the College of Business is about halfway to its estimated goal of $1 million.

Wood said he also plans to encourage more interaction between students and investment professionals by inviting those professionals to speak in the classes involving fund management.