• Peter Dadalt, professor of finance at Susquehanna

April 01, 2018

Finance students in the Sigmund Weis School of Business are getting firsthand experience by managing the investment portfolio of the Student Government Association.

Named the River Hawk Fund, students in Peter Dadalt’s 400-level finance course of the same name are investing $180,000 in three $60,000 installments. The first installment was invested in the fall 2017 semester and the final installment will be invested in the coming fall semester.

Students are admitted into the course only after receiving instructor permission.

They are split into working groups, each focused on a different industry—healthcare, utilities, consumer discretionary, etc. Using Susquehanna’s Bloomberg Terminals, they conduct what at one time would have been exhaustive research into the financial indicators within each sector.

“Using Excel, they make spreadsheets to see the patterns within the financial indicators,” Dadalt says. “Then each group votes on their investment recommendations.”

Those recommendations then go before the River Hawk Fund advisory board, made up of university administrators, including Mike Coyne, co-chief operating officer and vice president for finance and administration, and alumni with investment experience.

“This process gives us the best chance of making a good return on our money while managing the risk as prudently as we can,” Dadalt says. “It’s a little slice of Wall Street right here at Susquehanna.”

With the stock market return averaging approximately 10-12 percent annually, Dadalt expects to see the River Hawk Fund exceed $250,000 before long.

Beyond opening up an additional revenue stream for student activities, Dadalt says the River Hawk Fund provides students with priceless investment management experience—minus the risk.

“The fancy term is critical thinking,” he says. “We’re teaching them to take hazy, imprecise and ambiguous information and make decisions that are useful.

“Students are learning Wall Street techniques, and they’re earning course credit,” Dadalt continues, “and if they have a bad year, they can’t get fired.”