A generous investment by alumni Tom (’69) and Linda Nihoul (’71) has established the Tom and Linda Nihoul Bloomberg Financial Laboratory in the Carson College of Business.

Located in the college’s Department of Finance and Management Science, the lab houses 12 Bloomberg terminals, giving students and faculty access to real-time news, financial and economic data and other tools that are the “gold standard” within the industry. The terminals allow finance majors to earn various Bloomberg certificates and gain research and analysis proficiencies—all of which will give them a competitive advantage in the job market, said Mario Reyes, finance professor.

The Nihouls support the Carson College’s growing vision to offer the best financial education program in the Pacific Northwest. WSU is now in a cadre of institutions worldwide that provides Bloomberg technology to better prepare finance students for global careers.

“We are very honored and appreciate the college’s recognition. However, our reason for investing is to assist WSU students in gaining the professional skills they’ll need to be prepared for the workforce and adulthood,” said Linda.

“A second goal is to encourage others to invest in the Carson College and WSU,” added Tom.

Impact of a financial laboratory with Bloomberg technology

Closeup of Tom (’69) and Linda (’71) Nihoul
Tom (’69) and Linda (’71) Nihoul

Founded in 1981, the Bloomberg platform created an electronic network long before the internet and 24-hour financial news networks were available. Today, the terminals’ color-coded keyboards allow students to quickly access the best comprehensive news, market and financial data in the world.

Senior finance students in Reyes’s Cougar Investment Fund (CIF) course are learning to differentiate themselves from the workforce competition though the Bloomberg technology. Students make investment recommendations for the $3.5 million CIF fund with the objective of outperforming the Standard & Poors (S&P 500), an American stock market index based on the market capitalizations of 500 large companies with common stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ.

“I’m learning important portfolio management skills, specifically, asset allocation of the CIF fund,” said Elliot Ries, who plans to work in asset management or as an entrepreneur in the financial technology industry. “The Bloomberg terminal’s real-time data and other relevant market information enhances this focus. The terminal is very useful to find information with valuation, industry landscape, supply chain and credit monitors for the corporation.”

“I am able to preview what happens in markets through Bloomberg technology, and that is preparing me for what actually occurs in the real world,” said Emily Pierson. “Having the Bloomberg certification will increase my marketability when deciding my career.”

Megan Fisher aspires to work as a portfolio analyst or earn her certified financial planner designation. “The finance classes and the Bloomberg market concepts courses I am taking are actively helping me decide in which direction I want to go,” she said.

Partnering to advance finance education across WSU

A row of students working on computers.
Seniors Megan Fisher, Andrew Poulton, and Elliot Ries use the terminals’ color-coded keyboards to access the best comprehensive news, market and financial data in the world.

Over the last three years, the Nihouls and other partners have been working with leaders in the department to build a financial education strategy designed to increase all WSU students’ financial preparedness.

An initial investment from the Dean’s Catalyst Fund jump-started the laboratory, as well as some new learning activities. Through the fund, college investors provide start-up financing for projects with potential to attract continued financial support. “With this resource base, the finance faculty and students delivered a ‘proof of concept’ that will be sustained and expanded via the Nihouls’ generous investment,” said Chip Hunter, college dean.

“The lab serves all finance majors, not just those pursuing careers as financial advisors or financial analysts,” said David Whidbee, department chair. “It facilitates the college’s ability to achieve its strategic goal of business education across the university through personal finance education and allows our finance faculty to offer research-based insights to the business community in the Pacific Northwest.”

The rewards of investing

While the Nihouls’ commitment has transformed the department’s ability to deliver industry-standard tools, there are additional opportunities to support programs within the lab, said Whidbee.

The Nihouls – both finance professionals who came from humble beginnings – encourage WSU alumni to be good stewards for the next generation.

“Our very first gift to the university – in the 1960s – was $5,” said Linda. “That’s how our engagement with WSU began. We feel education is vitally important to help produce graduates who can contribute to society. We’d like to help all business students take charge of their own financial lives and represent WSU well.”

“Being competent with state-of-the art tools is mandatory to be competitive in today’s world,” said Tom. It’s so rewarding to help students learn, grow, prosper, and encourage them to give back.”