Opportunity to Learn

Alumnus donates funds to launch Student Pirate Investment Fund

Thanks to a recent donation to the College of Business, the Student Pirate Investment Fund is set to go live.

The $100,000 leadership gift by East Carolina University Trustee Bob Plybon, a graduate of the college, will be part of a graduate/undergraduate-level finance class where students serve as investment advisors. They will construct, manage and monitor the fund using approaches employed by professional registered investment advisors.

University Trustee Bob Plybon speaks with a finance student who will help manage the Student Pirate Investment Fund.

“I think it’s important that young people have some accountability for what they’re learning,” said Plybon of Greensboro. “If we can put something in place where our students can have a great learning opportunity and make a difference in other students’ lives again and again, what a great legacy.”

The class of 20 students meets twice a week with the college’s Department of Finance Chair Dr. Scott Below, who says the students now can put what they’ve learned in the classroom into practice. According to Below, students will “act in a variety of investment management roles and will have full fiduciary responsibility, following the tenets of modern portfolio theory.”

The Student Pirate Investment Fund will follow the same endowment rules set by the ECU Foundation’s board of directors. The foundation’s finance committee will provide additional oversight.

Dr. Scott Below, right, talks with Bob Plybon about how future investment portfolios can now be built thanks to Plybon’s $100,000 leadership gift.

Graduate student Zach Bass and senior Mark Matulewicz understand the impact of the leadership gift. However, according to Matulewicz, several actions need to happen before final investment decisions can be made.

“We’re taking a lot of steps that include the necessary research and analysis,” said Matulewicz. “Then, we’ll start investing that money.”

Though everyone will be anxious to see how the group of assets performs, Bass pointed out the investment portfolio is a long-term endeavor.

“Hopefully, in years coming and with a longer period to generate more returns, we can start applying (these returns) to scholarships,” Bass said.

A ‘transformational’ gift

A proud alumnus, Plybon understands the positive effects his gift will have on generations. This endowment will change the lives of current students and future students, he said.

“To the extent we can promote the college experience, it’s transformational,” said Plybon. “It’s going to impact them (the students) economically, socially, their children and grandchildren.”

Additionally, Plybon said the fund will need to grow beyond his initial donation.

Bob Plybon, right, and College of Business Dean Stanley G. Eakins, left, meet with the business students charged to help the Student Pirate Investment Fund go live.

“We need to get this to be a million dollar fund to have the impact that we should be having,”  said Plybon. “This is a great opportunity for not only individuals but foundations and corporations that want to have a long-term impact on the students coming out of East Carolina University and the College of Business.”

Proceeds from the student-managed endowment will benefit more than scholarships. Returns will also supplement student travel experiences, allow for data and software purchases and support other enrichment opportunities.

“This is an investment in the future,” said Plybon.

For more information, contact Paige Sammons, director of outreach for the College of Business, at sammonse15@ecu.edu.

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