A substantial donation from Martin D. Sass '63 will enable Brooklyn College students to analyze, invest and help manage actual securities in a long/short equity hedge fund, providing them with the real-world training that is necessary for a successful career in finance and investments.
The gift will create the M.D. Sass Investment Academy, a cocurricular program that will manage this unique hedge fund and will be open to undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Business.
"Brooklyn College has opened doors to highly successful careers for many students who, like me, came from humble backgrounds," says Sass, founder, chairman and CEO of M.D. Sass, a leading name in investment management for 42 years with $7 billion in assets under management. "My hope is that the academy will help keep those doors open for tomorrow's Brooklyn College students by providing them the chance to learn, grow and succeed in a business environment, through hands-on financial and investment experiences, invaluable mentoring and Wall Street connections."
The main activity of the academy will be to actively manage this fund, with teams of motivated students acting as managers, analysts and traders under the supervision of experienced investment professionals. Actively participating Brooklyn College students will earn monetary awards from profits earned in the hedge fund, based on their performance.
"Because of Marty Sass's extraordinary vision, our students will obtain a unique career‐building opportunity in the business and financial world," says Brooklyn College Vice President Andrew Sillen. "The academy will provide critical opportunities for students to prepare for careers in security analysis and portfolio management. It is truly an inspired plan."
The idea for the academy harkens back to Sass' undergraduate days at the college. A professor in a security analysis course challenged students to "invest" in the market using Monopoly money. Whoever's stock performed the best by the end of the semester would receive an A. "I was interested in cars as kid," Sass recalls. "I liked Chrysler's new models, so I wrote an analysis of the company and recommended purchase of the stock, which was the biggest winner during that semester. I got an automatic A. I followed my instincts by choosing Chrysler for that class, and it served me well. It helped ignite my interest in a career on Wall Street, which has remained my passion. Now, I'd like to give Brooklyn College students the same opportunities that I had."
The investment panel that will oversee the students' work and will have authority over investment decisions will consist of Sass, the chair of the foundation's investment committee, foundation trustees and investment committee members who choose to participate, and other experts approved by the foundation's investment committee.
The academy, which will be launched in fall 2015, will also sponsor lectures by Wall Street experts at the college's 25 Broadway facility and may organize a summer intensive program in investing for current students as well as certificate programs for recent alumni who work on Wall Street.
In all these ways and many others, the academy will help enhance the status of the School of Business as well. "The litmus test for a high-quality business school is its ability to give its students a competitive advantage in the job market," says Willie E. Hopkins, dean of the School of Business. "The M.D. Sass Investment Academy will give our students this advantage. Mr. Sass' investment in our students' future will pay dividends many times over. We are truly thankful for his generosity."