Fecel Financial Center brings virtual finance to Lamar University business students
Lamar University business students will have a new way to expand their knowledge of financial markets and gain new perspectives on the day-to-day global nature of monetary environments thanks to the generosity of Craig and Judy Fecel of Houston.
The couple contributed a major gift providing the resources to establish and maintain operations of the newly created Fecel Financial Center within the College of Business.
“Judy and I believe the FFC will enhance the skills of the current students. Also, we are hopeful that it may become an exciting ‘enticement’ to attract future students to Lamar,” Craig Fecel said.
“The high quality of my education at Lamar was the important first step in my career path,” Fecel added. “I’m grateful to Dr. Venta for helping me find a meaningful way to give back to Lamar. I can only dream about this resource being available to me 47 years ago, but now it’s available to all students qualified to experience it.”
“It is most fitting that the center be named for an individual who has distinguished himself in the world of finance throughout his career,” said Henry Venta, dean of the College of Business.
“Lamar was a critical first step in my career path,” Fecel said. “At Lamar, I had nurturing teachers who helped me build my self-esteem and gave me the problem-solving tools I would need in the future to meet the challenges I would face in my career.”
Fecel earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Lamar in 1966, and then completed a Master of Science in industrial administration from Purdue University the following year.
A financial advisor in Houston for more than 40 years, he is now a PIA Program Senior Portfolio Manager and Senior Vice President - Investments with Merrill Lynch’s Galleria Office in Houston.
Fecel is the author of the book “How to Profit from the PSYCLE” (1983) and appeared as a special guest on television’s Wall $treet Week with Louis Rukeyser in 1980. In 1995, he was one of five financial advisors nationwide elected to Research Magazine’s Broker Hall of Fame. Also, in that year, Barron’s magazine featured an exclusive interview with Fecel titled “Psyching Out Stocks.”
“The Fecel Financial Center will strengthen and enhance the curriculum and learning opportunities in the College of Business,” Venta said. “Both students and our faculty will grow through practical experience and through research using the financial center resources. The center will function as an advanced learning laboratory as well as a highly specialized classroom.”
The center will be housed in a newly renovated classroom complete with new computer stations and associated audiovisual and display equipment. Students will have access to specialized software and databases to allow for financial research and financial alerts and tools not currently available to them in college.
“Both our undergraduate and graduate students will learn to apply complex financial concepts in an exciting, virtual real-world environment, just like those they will encounter in their careers,” Venta said.
In addition to computers with dual displays, the center is well-equipped with software for student projects and research, said Tommy Thompson, associate professor of economics and finance, who oversees the student-managed investment fund that began with $250,000 from the Lamar University Foundation and is exceeding market averages.
In addition to a full complement of software already in use by the college, the center will have Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ and Research Insight analytical software for accessing and screening Compustat data. The lab will display news and financial data in real time, Thompson said. The center’s market wall will include a touch screen for monitoring the stock indices such as the New York Stock Exchange, and the NASDAQ, as well as commodities, precious metals, interest rates and exchange rates.
“We will also be able to create a watch list that we can access throughout the day and run comparisons to performance on the previous day, five days ago, 30 days ago, a year ago or five years ago,” Thompson said. “Lamar’s advanced finance classes will use the lab as well as graduate finance classes. It will be very well-used and will allow for more interactive learning.”
Mark Etheridge, director of Wood Products & Tier 1 Accounts, Thermo Fisher Scientific, a 1980 alumnus and member of the college’s board of advisors, helped furnish the center.
Lamar University's College of Business is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB-International) a distinction held by fewer than 5 percent of business schools worldwide. Princeton Review ranked Lamar's College of Business as one of the top 300 business schools in the nation. The Aspen Institute has ranked Lamar’s MBA in its biennial "Beyond Grey Pinstripes Global 100" list in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Photo 1: James Simmons, president of Lamar University, with Judy and Craig Fecel whose donation has funded the new finance center in the business college.
Photo 2: Thomas Thompson, associate professor of economics and finance, demonstrates a portion of the laboratory that includes touch-screen technology.
Photo 3: Left to right - Allison Getz, Brad Klein, Marsha Hoffer, president of the Lamar University Foundation, and Robert Hess take the new Fecel Financial Center for a test drive during a tour after it was unveiled Friday.