The Carrier Doctrine

Among my morning emails today was some very interesting news…

Madison Investment Fund Receives Recognition as a Top Student-Managed Fund Internationally

Harrisonburg, Virginia – James Madison University’s own Madison Investment Fund (MIF), a student-led investment fund that serves as a money manager to the JMU Foundation, has been internationally recognized as the second best student-managed investment fund in the equity value investment style category.

The Madison Investment Fund members

Last week the MIF competed in a portfolio competition at the R.I.S.E. XI Forum sponsored by the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, where they were matched up against other student-managed investment funds from around the globe. The MIF underperformed the winning fund by just 0.93% on a risk-adjusted basis according to records released from the Forum.

MIF President Justin Quaglia, a senior finance and economics double major, said, “Our success cannot be attributed to any single party, but rather it stems  from the passion of our members, the invaluable support and advice from our alumni and faculty, the focus of our adviser, the discipline of the administration, and the respect of the James Madison University Foundation. These efforts not only allowed us to achieve strong investment returns, but they helped us build strong leaders for the future.”

While most schools have their investment funds as part of their capstone finance course, the MIF is a real world asset management organization that operates year round, even during the summer months when the students are on break. Quaglia pointed out that “the most frequently asked questions we received at the competition this year were ‘What class is this for?’ and ‘Do you get credit for this?’. Our team does this because they are passionate about it and want to learn more about investing — we don’t do it for credit,” acknowledged Quaglia.

Although I don’t know all the particulars about how the Madison Investment Fund was started, I do know that it represents something incredibly risky: trust. In MIF’s case, trusting students with real money, a portion of the JMU Foundation. This is not Monopoly money. This is real money — money that supports the university.

This precedent of trusting students was established at JMU decades ago. During the early years of his administration, President Ronald E. Carrier held a fundamental belief in students.  I’d call it the “Carrier Doctrine.” As Dr. Carrier led the university through an era of change that included the first co-ed residence halls and fewer restrictions on conduct, he wholeheartedly believed that students were capable of self-governance. In one bold and unprecedented move, for instance, Dr. Carrier turned the entire budge for student programs over to the students and let them manage it.

They did a superb job.

Fast forward to 2011. JMU continues to trust students, and the university and the students continue to reap the rewards of that trust. Note what Justin said above about their passions as students, that is comes in part from “the respect of the James Madison University Foundation.” Respect requires trust.

Is the trust sometimes broken? Of course. After all, students are humans too. But on balance, students have shown themselves to be responsible as they tackle, challenge — and yes, risk — change. And through the experience inherent in trust, students learn lessons of trust and responsibility, of risk and reward, of how to be the change — and how to do it well.

In the end, Dr. Carrier’s faith in students was not squandered. Instead, it became institutionalized. The Rose administration has continued and expanded the “Carrier Doctrine”  — no more importantly, perhaps, than in the arena of undergraduate research. Trusting undergraduates to conduct real research under serious scholars and scientists has become a hallmark of the university. Some might call it crazy. But it lies at the heart of JMU’s trust of students.

James Madison University has long been known as a university where students are important, but it should also be renowned as a university where students are trusted to govern, to explore, to create, to accomplish. To Be the Change.

Read more about JMU’s College of Business go here: http://www.jmu.edu/cob/

To read about JMU’s belief in undergraduate research, you will have to visit the JMU website and search for “undergraduate research.” There were simply too many to list here!

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About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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