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Bringing the financial markets to Lehigh

Gregory Farrington, Lehigh president, took the first ceremonial swing Tuesday.

With the ceremonial swing of a sledgehammer, Lehigh officials officially began construction Tuesday of a new Financial Services Lab (FSL) that will bring together students from different disciplines and business players from many walks of life to gain firsthand financial knowledge that they could never get in a classroom.

The formal "groundbreaking" ceremony was hosted by Richard M. Durand, the Herbert E. Ehlers Dean of the College of Business and Economics, on the second floor of Rauch Business Center Tuesday morning. Among those taking part were Gregory Farrington, university president, other administration officials, faculty members, and alumni.

The new lab is expected to be ready for the fall semester.

"The FSL is building a base in which new and meaningful information, analytics and simulations are combined in a manner that will require substantive problem-solving approaches to dealing with ambiguous situations," Durand says. "In financial services, there is seldom a single answer to a problem, so one can't present information in a formulaic fashion. Rather, we will use the lab in a way that will show students how to arrive at answers using multiple frameworks."

”A distinct advantage”

Dean Richard Durand takes his turn in the groundbreaking ceremony.

With resources such as wall-mounted tickers and real-time feeds from Bloomberg and Reuters streaming into computers on a 15-minute delay, visitors to the FSL will experience the excitement of real-time stock trading, deal capture, settlements, analytic assessments, pricing, and portfolio management.

"A Financial Services Laboratory at Lehigh will be a distinct advantage for its faculty and the future business leaders it prepares. Science has always relied on labs for research and practical teaching, and so should business," says Joseph R. Perella '64, chairman of the Institutional Securities and Investment Banking Group, Morgan Stanley, whose generous gift to CBE contributed to the new lab.

The FSL will draw together not only business students, but also math, journalism, and engineering majors. It will enhance students’ employment opportunities by providing a real-time link between world events and their impact on financial markets. The lab will also provide valuable tools for faculty research and help attract quality students and faculty.

"This lab truly illustrates the dynamic change in education," says Don Gruhn'49, who took part in the groundbreaking ceremony. "When I first purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange back in 1956, trades were completed with paper and pencil. Today, enormous trades happen in nanoseconds, and now students can benefit from that technology right here at Lehigh."

Meeting the demands of the real world

And beyond campus borders, the FSL will help Lehigh better partner with industry players, corporate constituents, business organizations, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and other business college deans. The IBM Shared University Research (SUR) program has provided hardware for the FSL.

"I see this laboratory as a focal point that brings together four key constituent groups: undergraduate and graduate students, campus-wide faculty, the corporate community, and alumni," says Durand, who also sees the FSL as evidence of CBE's commitment to providing its students with the tools to solve real-world problems.

"We maintain constant contact with business leaders in the business community, and we know what they're looking for in young graduates. This is just one example of the type of preparation our students have. We also have teams of students working across disciplines to solve problems and develop creative solutions, and we're committed to meeting the needs and demands of the real world out there."

John Callies, vice president of marketing, e-business on demand for IBM, is enthusiastic about what the lab will bring to Lehigh: "It will be a key differentiator for the university, helping to increase its reputation, visibility and rankings, as well as its ability to attract students and faculty."

The FSL is part of CBE's ongoing efforts to uniquely position graduate students as business leaders. The college is constantly going out to the market to see what the market needs and then educates its future business leaders to fill those needs. CBE provides strong programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, such as supply chain management, computer science and business, and integrated business and engineering.

"The FSL brings the financial markets to Lehigh, creating a practical and enjoyable learning environment," says Marc Paley '83, managing director/head of U.S equities, Lehman Brothers, Inc.

--Kim Plyler

Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004

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