Koch Industries will provide more than half the funds needed to establish a trading center at Wichita State University.
The 800-square-foot lab, to be called the Koch Global Trading Center, will be on the main floor of Clinton Hall and will be part of WSU’s W. Frank Barton School of Business.
The center will be equipped with 30 work stations that will supply real-time quotes and financial data, full-color LED tickers carrying stock and price information from multiple markets, analysis software and digital display panels with breaking news and financial information.
The trading center will help prepare business students for careers in the financial and commodities markets. It also will educate students from other disciplines about the impact trading activities have on all aspects of business, WSU officials said.
Koch has pledged $346,000 of the $600,000 needed to set up the trading lab. Another $400,000 will be raised to create an endowment for equipment and software upgrades. Other private donors have committed about $272,000 for the lab, WSU said.
“This generous gift by Koch Industries makes it possible for us to offer an educational experience students won’t find at most other universities,” Cindy Claycomb, interim dean of the Barton School of Business, said in a statement. “The Koch Global Trading Center will provide training and knowledge that is relevant to the business world and valued by employers. That, in turn, will help Wichita State attract the best and brightest students.”
The goal is to complete fundraising for the project in the next few months and for the center to open by summer 2014.
“Where a lot of trading labs are really focused on learning the basics of equities, we want students to have a more comprehensive understanding of how markets work, the support functions necessary to properly trade and how trading concepts apply to many areas of business,” Richard Dinkel, corporate controller for Koch Industries, said in a statement. “We want the student who’s going into the workforce to enter it with a better understanding of not only how to make a trade but how to apply more of a trading mentality in any business.”
Partnering with Koch gives WSU the ability to offer a curriculum it wouldn’t otherwise be able to offer, said Rick LeCompte, chairman of the Barton School of Business’ Finance, Real Estate and Decision Sciences Department.
“It’s a really big deal for our students and our faculty,” LeCompte said. “It gives our students a huge lift up in terms of their capabilities.”
Koch operates its own trading floor in Wichita. With Koch’s help, the center’s concept was broadened from a “cookie-cutter copy” of labs at other universities to a center focused on integrating a trading curriculum with WSU’s current finance curriculum, he said.
WSU and Koch will each assign a representative to work together to develop the center’s curriculum and functions. Koch will also help with the instruction by providing subject matter experts and instructors for targeted programs at the center.
That will give the school expertise in areas such as commodities and energy trading, LeCompte said.
The school won’t train students to become traders, he said. But they will gain an understanding of the fundamentals of trading, such as back office trading and the fundamentals of risk management from a trading perspective.
“We want them to understand what’s going on in trading,” LeCompte said.
An advisory board made up of business and community representatives will help WSU develop the center’s mission.
With Koch’s pledge, architectural drawings for the center can be finalized, with work to begin as early as the end of the year, LeCompte said.