Every penny earned
When Bridget Momper toured the University of Dayton as a high school student, she walked into the Davis Center for Portfolio Management in Miriam Hall with its scrolling stock ticker and students at specialized computer stations researching investments.
“I felt so intimidated that I wanted to walk right back out,” she recalled.
But she was interested in learning more, so she came back and accepted the challenge to work long hours beside fellow students to pick stocks that will generate long-term gains for the University. Today, the finance major oversees nearly $60 million as the senior manager of the Davis Center for Portfolio Management’s Flyer Investments Fund. This fall, the student-run investment fund became the largest in the country.
“It has been the most influential experience I’ve had at UD,” said Momper, a senior who has accepted a position after graduation at the financial services company Jefferies in New York City.
Undergraduates manage a portion of the University’s endowment as well as a pool of assets for the Dayton Foundation. Students make all investment decisions to buy, hold and sell stocks, and they have historically outperformed the S&P 500 and professional money managers.
“It puts us on the map in an extremely competitive industry,” Momper said. “Future employers are always looking for prior experience in their candidates, but being able to say that you are a part of the largest student-run fund in the country holds a whole other level of gravity to it. Our members work hard at all hours of the day to ensure that we are taking calculated risks and generating high returns.”
Davis Center students pitch 20 stocks a semester and put in 40 to 50 hours of work researching and writing each pitch. Jack Ward, a senior finance and accounting major, recalled his first pitch as part of his interview to join the Davis Center team.
“I was nervous, and the pitch wasn’t perfect, but I learned a lot and pitched it again my sophomore year — and it’s still in the portfolio,” said Ward, a Davis Center associate manager and leader of the health care sector team.
The Davis Center was founded through the vision and gifts of Dick Davis ’72 and his wife, Sue. Davis Center alumni number nearly 600, and they pay forward their experiences by opening the doors for current students to find internships and apply for jobs.
“I am extremely proud of the contribution of our past and present members of the Davis Center,” said faculty member and center director Daniel Kapusta. “Since 2010, these UD student-managers have collectively generated in excess of $40 million of capital gains on behalf of the University and the Dayton Foundation.”
In 2020, Davis Center students also invested in the Dayton community; they donated $6,300 they received from managing Dayton Foundation investments to a scholarship for students from the Dayton Early College Academy, a public high school on UD’s campus. “We want to make the education we’ve had at UD attainable for all students,” said Momper — including her lesson in how overcoming initial fears can lead you to the top.
Photos by Andrew Buchanan '22.