Couple's gift to connect Schreyer Scholars with Smeal trading room faculty

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Ryan Newman, a vice president in the Investment Management Division of global investment bank Goldman Sachs, talks about the Smeal College of Business’ trading room — a real-time, networked environment where students monitor financial markets and strategize on investments — a tinge of awe creeps into his voice.

“The Rogers Family Trading Room didn't even exist when I was a student,” said Newman, a 2001 graduate of Smeal and the Schreyer Honors College. “This is one of the only labs in the country like this. What makes it so impressive is that it’s an out-of-classroom experience that is driving the experience in the classroom. It’s unique.”

Newman has seen how experience shapes success on Wall Street. His appreciation for the impact that access to the trading room can have on students preparing to launch their careers has led him and his wife, a 2001 graduate of the College of the Liberal Arts and the Schreyer Honors College, to create the Ryan L. and Meredith A. Newman Family Endowment for Scholarly Activities in the Schreyer Honors College. Once fully endowed, proceeds from the $100,000 fund will support faculty involved with the trading room. The trading room boasts a variety of financial software, including two Bloomberg machines, an interactive information network that provides current and historical financial market information.

Newman said giving students access to a variety of financial software, such as the Bloomberg machines, puts them in touch with the same tools those in business and industry employ. “Financial information is voluminous,” Newman said. “While there’s a lot of data that is readily accessible, it can be highly disparate. The Bloomberg machine is a subscription-based network that provides a lot of data but also allows for a large amount of analysis and aggregation. The on-going subscription fees are expensive, and the machines themselves are very costly.

"For the trading room to be a place where students can get training on some of the same tools used on the trading desk is very exciting. I view this gift as getting to the heart of the preparation students need in order to be successful in this industry. While I didn’t have the opportunity of having used the trading room as an undergraduate, I am someone who has first-hand experience in seeing how the trading room has been a force multiplier in preparing students to secure jobs on Wall Street.”

In addition to being a teaching lab, the Rogers Family Trading Room is used by members of the Penn State Investment Association, a club open to students from all majors, and the Nittany Lion Fund, a student-managed $5 million investment fund.

With dual allegiances to Smeal and to the Schreyer Honors College, Newman envisions his gift aligning with priorities identified by each academic unit. While Newman’s gift will support a Smeal faculty member involved with the trading room, that professor will be connected with the Honors College’s Distinguished Honors Faculty Program, which provides select faculty with resources to engage students in innovative programs outside of the classroom. Gifts of $100,000 or more can endow Distinguished Honors Faculty Program appointments.

Newman sees his gift as introducing the dynamic environment of finance to Schreyer Scholars from across the University.

“My initial introduction to Penn State was through Smeal and all the things that a top-ranked business program at a large public university offers,” Newman said. “Then later I learned about Schreyer, and I was just taken by the focus on the individual student and this concept of the development of the 'whole person' through international enrichment and scholarship.

"It is a powerful combination. In directing all of our giving to date to the intersection of Schreyer and Smeal, it is my hope that this will accomplish two things: first, that it will promote a level of enthusiasm about key financial concepts outside of the classroom which, in turn, will make the classroom environment more enriching, and second, that it will increase the number of students each year who can achieve a job in the competitive Wall Street hiring environment.”

The Newman Family Endowment is the second major gift commitment made to For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students by Newman, who co-chairs the campaign committee for the Schreyer Honors College’s External Advisory Board. The board has a goal of committing $2.5 million or half of the dollars yet to be raised in order for the college to reach its $54 million campaign goal.

“The External Advisory Board, as volunteer leaders of the University, stand with the community and take a leadership role in achieving our goal for the students,” Newman said.

“Ryan has provided tremendous leadership to the Honors College and the University throughout this campaign,” said Christian M. M. Brady, dean of the Schreyer Honors College. “It is especially exciting to see a young alumnus recognize the impact philanthropy can have upon future generations of students and find a tangible way to bring his passion for his profession directly to those preparing to pursue that same path.”

The Newmans’ new gift in support of the Distinguished Honors Faculty Program will help the Schreyer Honors College achieve the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

For more information about the Schreyer Honors College, visit http://shc.psu.edu.

Last Updated January 10, 2014