The Mountaineer Investment Club
In 1994, two relatively new finance assistant professors, Dr. Don Cox and Dr. Delbert Goff, started looking for ways to provide students with hands-on, real-world investment experience. Their initial thought evolved into the idea of forming a student investment club where members would put money into the portfolio and the club would decide how to invest the money. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Cox and Dr. Goff formed the Mountaineer Investment Club. At the time, there was no evidence of other active student investment clubs in the country. Therefore, there was no pattern for the professors to follow, and they had to anticipate potential pitfalls—such as students not having much money to invest, as well as the constant turnover of students. These problems were addressed by forming a partnership allowing students to leave their money in the club after they graduated as well as allowing others to invest in the club. This structure enabled the portfolio to grow beyond what would have been possible if only the current students were allowed to invest funds.
The Mountaineer Investment Club officially began in the Fall Semester of 1994, and was very successful in many respects. While student participants came and went over the years, there was always a core group of very dedicated students with a strong interest in investments. The club provided students with an excellent opportunity to learn about investments and to apply that knowledge to making investment decisions.
Along with the club's success there were some problems. Most student members elected to leave their funds in the portfolio when they graduated, which enabled it to grow. However, the number of partners in the club created major problems with recordkeeping and tax filings. In addition, most of the individual investments were very small ($50 to $75), and the size of the portfolio limited the ability to fully diversify the holdings.
Establishment of a Student-Managed Investment Fund
Problems encountered with the structure of the Mountaineer Investment Club prompted Dr. Goff and Dr. Cox to transition from an investment club to a student-managed investment fund. In December 1998 the Mountaineer Investment Club's portfolio was liquidated and members were asked to contribute their investment to the fund. Beginning with this initial $2,400, Dr. Cox and Dr. Goff then started raising money to build the fund.
The biggest financial supporter of the fund was Dr. Elbert V. Bowden. Dr. Bowden, a long-time faculty member at Appalachian, liked the concept of a student-managed investment fund and made several significant financial contributions. In January 2000, Dr. Cox began teaching portfolio management principles to the first group of students, enabling them to begin making investment decisions and purchasing stocks.
Although Dr. Bowden was the single largest financial contributor to the fund, his greatest contribution came from allowing his name to be used to support the fund. In September 2001, the "Elbert V. Bowden Student-Managed Investment Fund" was created, and Dr. Bowden's name, excellent reputation, and many contacts were used to raise approximately $75,000 for the fund. Dr. Bowden passed away in 2004, but his legacy as a devoted educator lives on through the work of the Bowden Investment Group.
Dr. Cox continued to teach the students until being appointed Associate Dean of the Walker College of Business. In August 2004, Dr. Goff took over the responsibility for teaching the students managing the fund and came up with the idea to name the group of students the "Bowden Investment Group." This unofficial name quickly became very popular and the reputation of the "BIG" began to grow.
In the fall of 2010, Dr. Goff was joined by an adjunct faculty member, Mr. David Thompson. Mr. Thompson, a retired General Partner with WEDGE Capital Management, brought a wealth of business and investment experience. In 2018, Dr. Brandy Hadley and Mr. Shawn Poole joined the team. Mr. Poole, CPA and retired founder, President, and CFO of Employbridge Holding Company, the largest industrial staffing firm in the U.S., brought considerable public finance knowledge and experience to the classroom. Dr. Hadley, who had previously taught the student managed investment group at California State University San Bernardino, taught the group in the spring of 2019 while Dr. Goff participated in an off-campus scholarly assignment.
In 2020, Dr. Goff and Mr. Thompson both stepped into advisory roles and Dr. Brandy Hadley took over primary responsibility for teaching the Bowden Investment Group. Together, the coaching team provides the students with an unparalleled educational experience – an experience that goes beyond finance and investments and includes professional development and teamwork, as well as personal and professional accountability. Today, the Bowden Investment Group is considered one of the premier student groups in the Walker College of Business.
Dr. Elbert Bowden
In September 2001, the student managed investment fund at Appalachian State University was named in honor of Dr. Elbert V. Bowden to recognize his outstanding work and his many contributions to the students at Appalachian.
Dr. Bowden authored more than 70 publications including nine editions of Economics, The Science of Common Sense. He also traveled the globe as a merchant marine during WWII, recorded country songs in the 1950's, and graduated with a PhD from Duke University. Most importantly; however, he changed the lives of thousands of students over the years by challenging them to reach their full potential.
Listen to "I was burned in Carolina" by Elbert Bowden