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$1M donation at UAA being used to create scholarships through student-run portfolio

Updated: Jul. 5, 2021 at 7:00 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Already a $1 million donation from a University of Alaska Anchorage alumnus and his wife is beginning to generate more money for scholarships through a new investment portfolio that will be run by students, according to College of Business and Public Policy Dean John Nofsinger.

Nofsinger explained that undergrad students in a securities analysis class, as well as the Investment Club at UAA, will take the money from the portfolio to be invested into stocks, bonds and other securities.

“They’ll pick stocks with the help of the portfolio manager,” he said. “And then at the end, they’ll present the stocks that they wish to purchase to the class and the students will vote on which ones they want to buy.”

He said students pursuing master’s degrees could also participate and earn credit in their programs.

The money, as well as the idea, came from alumnus Gary and Jane Klopfer. The two Alaskans have found their success in the world of finance and investment.

Gary Klopfer, an entrepreneur, said when he went to UAA after moving here in 1977, he was an “infamous poor student.” He applied for all the scholarships that he could and received a single $500 scholarship that made a huge difference in his ability to go to school.

He’s actually the one who started the Investment Club at UAA that will be helping manage the portfolio.

Both of the Klopfers have extensive backgrounds in investment and financing, although Gary Klopfer said most of his experience came after he graduated.

The couple said they donate money for scholarships regularly. However, this gift was meant to be more than about going to school; it’s meant to be about gaining real-life experience while in school.

“We thought it would be very advantageous if we set this money as a starting point for the Investment Club, that the students both in accounting and finance with the dean can actually buy things and hopefully will turn into something that will produce many more scholarships,” Gary Klopfer said.

They fronted the money for the investment portfolio with the condition that 5% of the money generated would go to students. It sounds like a small portion, but Jane Klopfer explained that the intent is for the other 95% to keep the portfolio growing upon itself, making that 5% a larger amount of money over time.

“Hopefully it’ll grow,” she said. “Hopefully, it’ll continue to earn more money, and the more money it earns the more scholarships and the students and the faculty can all be a part of that.”

Nofsinger explained that the money is already going to work being invested into a number of securities, as the Klopfers wanted it working as soon as possible.

“Within a few weeks here, we’ll have the money fully invested it’ll be working for the students, and then when the students come on board and they start making decisions, we’ll sell those securities, and buy the stocks that they choose,” Nofsinger said.

There are of course risks associated with the investment. The Klopfers said they want that to be part of the learning experience.

They said they want students to understand the difference between a good and bad year in the market. They also want the success of the portfolio directly affecting the number of scholarships it can support to be a motivator for the students managing it.

Nofsinger said the students will have some limits on what they can invest in. He said they would be sticking to S&P 500-type stocks and government bonds. No cryptocurrencies will be allowed, he said.

The Klopfers said they want this portfolio and experience managing it to generate a new wave of experienced investors that want to stay and work in the state. Therefore, they want the portfolio to also grow by donations from other investment firms.

“I want to impress upon every investment firm in this state, ‘hey, you got an extra $5,000? Donate it to this group fund.’ So that it grows,” Gary Klopfer said. “Because it’s to everybody’s benefit.”

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