1:58 p.m., Oct. 17, 2008----In the middle of a month like no other on Wall Street, it was more than business as usual when the University of Delaware inaugurated its Exelon Trading Center on Thursday, Oct. 16, in Purnell Hall.
Designed to replicate the trading floors in investment banks, brokerage houses and hedge funds on Wall Street, the 2,200-square-foot center contains 16 classroom workstations, as well as four research room workstations and real time feeds to two tickers and four LCD displays.
About 100 guests attended the event, including UD President Patrick Harker and Ian McLean, executive president for finance and markets at Exelon, as well as faculty, staff and students in UD's Lerner College of Business and Economics.
While state-of-the-art LCD screens and real-time tickers displayed the latest business information, Conrado M. “Bobby” Gempesaw, dean of the Lerner College of Business and Economics, thanked those whose support turned a vision into a working reality.
“I want to thank President Harker and Ian McLean and Exelon for their help with this,” Gempesaw said. “We should also thank Ken Biederman [professor of finance in the Lerner College], who believed that a trading lab experience would exponentially improve the ability of our students. Ken's vision was right on the money.”
In thanking Exelon and supporters of Exelon Trading Center, Harker said that the advantages the center holds for students and faculty complement the University's strategic planning goals on its Path to ProminenceTM to helping UD attain national and global recognition as a leading educational institution.
“We need the support of our friends and we are very pleased to welcome Exelon as one of our best friends,” Harker said. “The center provides a valuable experience for our students in specialized trading and helps our faculty work in various business areas. It is through this relationship with Exelon that we are building a really strong program.”
McLean cited the efforts of Exelon Power Team trader and UD alumnus Frank Henshaw in bringing academia and industry together. The center, which opened last spring, was funded in part by a $500,000 donation by Exelon.
“Frank Henshaw came to me and said, 'I think there is a real opportunity here,'” McLean said. “I asked him to bring me a business plan, and he did. He actually had an idea and did the work to back it up. This is really about the people I have met here at UD. These people are going to help take us to a new level.”
Kenneth Cornew, senior vice president of Exelon and president of Exelon Power Team, said that everyone involved should be proud of the opportunities created by the partnership between Exelon and the University and its students and faculty.
“It's all about the relationship and it's all about the people, and this is truly a collaboration to be proud of,” Cornew said. “By doing this we have made a tremendous amount of progress, but we are really just beginning.”
A student perspective was offered by Jason Dague, senior finance major from Hershey, Pa., and vice president of the Blue Hen Investment Club, a registered student organization. Dague worked with UD's Information Technologies department in developing the lab and installing the array of computer stations used by student traders in the Exelon Trading Center.
“We have 16 terminals and 16 accounts where students buy and sell against each other,” Dague said. “While it is not real money, it still teaches you a valuable lesson and you learn how to mitigate risks.”
Ann Viselli, UD alumnus and deputy treasurer in the Delaware Office of the Treasurer, noted that when she began her master's program at UD in 1987, the movie Wall Street has just been released and the hottest rock groups were U2 and REM. Viselli also noted that technology represented in the new trading center has changed considerably since her grad student days at UD.
“In those days, the computers were down in the basement of Smith Hall,” Visellis said. “We spent a lot of time on the mainframe.”
In noting her role as president of the Lerner College of Business and Economics Alumni Association, Viselli said, “My UD degree has served me well.”
Stephen Schork, president of the Schork Group and editor of the Schork Report, U.S.A., said that the trading floor of the Exelon Trading Center represented the crossroads of the real world.
“To succeed in that world, you are going to have to learn how to manage risks,” Schork said. “The market is the sum total of all the wisdom and knowledge of the people who deal with it.”
The keys to success in the world represented by the trading center at UD, Schork said, are "conviction, consistency and discipline. These things will take you al long way in business and in life.”
The inaugural presentations concluded with a demonstration of the many technological tools available at the center by Rich Jakotowicz, a manager in the Lerner College of Business and Economics.
Following the inauguration of the Exelon Trading Center at UD, representatives from UD and Exelon traveled to the New York Stock Exchange to ring The Closing Bell®.
Article by Jerry Rhodes
Photos by Kathy Atkinson