PULLMAN, Wash. — Acclaimed global investing authority and philanthropist Gary P. Brinson has made a gift of securities valued at more than half a million dollars to the endowed chair in finance that bears his name at his alma mater, Washington State University.
The Gary P. Brinson Endowed Chair in Investment Management was established with a $1.5 million gift in 1993, 25 years after Brinson earned a Master of Business Administration at WSU. In 1993, it was the largest cash gift WSU had received from a living individual.
The new $502,000 gift will further support the many initiatives administered by associate professor Rick Sias, who holds the chair, says WSU College of Business and Economics Dean Len Jessup.
“The Brinson funds have fueled extraordinary and innovative teaching, learning and research for our students and faculty,” Jessup said. “Gary Brinson’s new gift reinforces our ability to continue to provide a world-class program in investment management, and we appreciate his generosity and his vision.”
Brinson is an international investment authority and frequent lecturer at educational and professional investment forums. From 1970 to 1979, he was president and chief operating officer of Travelers Investment Management Co. in Hartford, Conn. He was president and chief investment officer of First Chicago Investment Advisors, a subsidiary of First Chicago Corp., from 1979 to 1989. In October 1989, he and a group of 70 employees purchased the investment management company for cash and securities valued at $115 million.
Renamed Brinson Partners, the company operated independently until 1994 when it merged with Swiss Bank Corp. in a deal worth $750 million. The company operated as Brinson Partners/SBC Brinson until the 1998 merger of Swiss Bank Corp. and UBS Union Bank of Switzerland formed UBS AG. Brinson Partners/SBC Brinson were combined to form the UBS Brinson Division. He was named CEO and chief investment officer of the $340 billion under management. In March 2000, UBS announced the two institutional investment management businesses of UBS Asset Management, Brinson Division and Phillips and Drew, would be combined. Brinson retired at the end of 2000 when the transition plan was completed.
With his wife and daughters, he now oversees The Brinson Foundation, located in Chicago. A philanthropic, nonprofit organization, its mission is to “support educational, scientific, environmental and public health programs that engage, inform and inspire committed citizens to confront the challenges that face humanity.”
A native of Renton, Brinson was an instructor in the WSU finance program from 1967-70. Today, the finance professor holding the prestigious Brinson Chair is charged with being an exemplary scholar, a student resource, a program and faculty leader and a liaison with the investment management community and service groups.
Sias was named the Brinson Chair in spring 2000 when its first holder, John Kling, left WSU to enter private practice. Numerous activities and programs in the Department of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate are administered by the Brinson Chair and supported by funds from that program.
Funds from the chair program have made it possible to bring world-class investment leaders to campus. Robert Shiller, author of “Irrational Exuberance,” and Nobel Laureate Myron Scholes, co-creator of the Black-Scholes Formula for stock option valuation, were the first two guests of the Brinson Distinguished Speaker Series. Visiting WSU on April 13, to deliver the third annual “Brinson Distinguished Lecture” will be John Bogle, founder of Vanguard funds and one of the investment industry’s four “giants of the 20th century,” according to Fortune magazine. In addition, a number of outstanding professors from top business schools across the nation have made presentations to students and faculty as part of the Brinson Speaker Series.
Students in the WSU finance program also benefit directly from Brinson funds. Under Sias’ guidance, top students participate in a two-semester class that invests $1 million of WSU endowment through the Cougar Investment Fund program. Computers for the financial markets lab, an electronic stock ticker, two TV monitors and other costs are paid for from the chair account. Now in its third year, the Cougar Investment Fund has beaten the S&P 500 and earned profits for WSU. Students from the program were featured in 2002 on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” investment program.
“The $1 million portfolio is the largest of its kind in the Northwest,” Sias said. “The Cougar Investment Fund provides students a challenging opportunity and hands-on experience, and the structure of the program allows students to think critically and develop teamwork and written and oral communication skills.”
In addition, Sias uses Brinson funds to purchase a number of research databases for faculty and student use, including New York Stock Exchange transaction data, institutional ownership data, international stock market data, futures markets data and insider-trading data. Sias also awards Brinson Scholarships to about a dozen students each year who are preparing for the chartered financial analysts exam. Brinson is a CFA.
Faculty who are investigating investment-related topics may receive summer research grants from the fund. Brinson Summer Research Fellow for 2003 was associate professor David Whidbee, who specializes in the topics of corporate governance, financial institutions and commercial banking.
Sias is a leading researcher and teacher who frequently appears in prominent academic publications, the national press and at public presentations. His research specialties include market efficiency, institutional and individual investors and investments. He received the College’s “Outstanding Faculty Research Award” in 2003 and its “Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award” in 2002.